It started in a children’s class in a small inner-city church. The idea was simple: promote missions.
Many of the children, like Marina, weren’t born in the United States. Marina came to this country as a refugee from Myanmar. Her parents fled due to Christian persecution and ended up on the steps of a Baptist church one Sunday morning. The rest of the class was made up of kids from the inner-city neighborhood surrounding the church, along with a few kids from the suburbs who attend with their parents.
So what happens when a group of children work together towards a common goal? In this case, the church learned a valuable lesson.
Worcester Baptist Church has been a member of the Southern Baptist Convention for over 50 years and has been part of the Baptist Convention of New England for as long as it has existed. While the church always gave to the Cooperative Program, church members thought they were not able to give to additional offerings such as the New England Mission Emphasis – and so they didn’t. Even though the offerings helped small churches like Worcester Baptist with things like mission trips, collegiate ministry and church health, they didn’t see the value of it.
But in the last few years, the church had sent two students through Quest, a yearlong BCNE youth leadership program that culminates in an overseas mission trip. People hoped that many of the children in the church would also be a part of Quest when they were old enough. So the Sunday school leaders, one of whom is a Quest alumnus, challenged the kids. They explained how offerings like NEME have funded important things like Quest missionary programs – and that one day the offerings could help fund the children’s missionary efforts.
Then the teachers handed out plastic banks to each of the kids and told them that for the next four Sundays, they would be collecting money to help ministry in New England. According to the rules, their parents were not allowed to just give them money – it had to be earned. In this way, the kids learned about sacrificially giving of themselves. They discovered that sometimes there is good reason to make the effort to support a cause above and beyond normal giving.
The kids took to the challenge whole-heartedly. They saved allowances, redeemed aluminum cans and did extra chores to help earn as much money as they could.
After four Sundays, the kids had given over $300. Seeing what the children had done moved the church to match the gift and celebrate the accomplishment with ice cream.
Now, it is an annual event. Each year the kids will be asked to sacrifice and give, and each year the church will match the giving. These inner-city and immigrant children are excited to know that they have helped to fund missions.
Editor’s Note: The Baptist Convention of New England is collecting for the New England Mission Emphasis. Find out more at bcne.net/neme.
Bree Cobbs serves as the executive assistant and bookkeeper at the Baptist Convention of New England.