Volunteer Brenda Saavedra is desperate for more resources.
She’s loved the Sunday School materials produced by the Bible Society in Mexico. But they’ve been through the book more than once, and now she’s eagerly awaiting book two.
Brenda (picture right) is delivering the Bible Society’s creative Grow and Learn Sunday school programme, designed to strengthen church children’s programmes in poor areas and where churches need help. The programme includes volunteer training and provides churches with the materials they need to grow a solid children’s ministry.
I met Brenda at Fuente De Bendiciones Church (Fountain of Blessings Church) at San Cristobel outside Mexico City. My Spanish is terrible, but I understood her two-word response to me when I asked her why she does it. “Los niños!” she says. “The children!”
“I haven’t had the blessing of having children, so these are my spiritual children,” Brenda says. “Some of the kids even call me ‘mum.’ I want to invest everything I have in them – they’re my passion,” she explains.
The church is in a poor neighbourhood where most families don’t have good access to essential services. Just like many children in Mexico, exposure to violence, be it in their own home or in their community is almost normal. Grow and Learn is about changing that – the programme’s main theme is Jesus is a model to follow. Brenda and other volunteers teach the kids biblical morals and values and that treating people badly is not ok – nor is the violence they see around them every day.
I stood at the back of the room beside a dentist from the next town. He brings his child a long way just to attend the programme. In fact many parents are dragged to church by their children who have such a great time. The parents notice a change in their behaviour, bring them to the programme and end up sitting in the church service downstairs themselves. Some of the children found out about the programme because they heard other kids in their neighbourhood singing the songs.
“This material has been a great blessing for us. It’s not just the content, but the community that we’re in doesn’t have a lot of resources. They’re not well off. And having this free material has been a big blessing,” Brenda explains.
She notices a change in the behaviour of the kids that come. “Some of them were very timid. But they’ve opened up and now get involved in the classroom. They make friends. Some were really aggressive and violent and very expressive, because they come from a context where they hear and see that kind of violence. But they’ve become more tranquil and friendlier.”
I’m inspired by the importance Fuente De Bendiciones Church places on these kids. It’s a small church but they know that this is the next generation who will carry on their work in the years to come. That’s why teaching them now how to follow the best role model they could possibly have – Jesus – is so important.