Thirty-one Christian Reformed Churches in the Great Lakes region are participating in engaging their community through Kids Hope USA. Some of these churches have been working with Kids Hope USA for more than 15 years. Kids Hope USA connects one church to one local public school, and then the school assigns students to the church mentors. The same mentorships continue throughout the student's time at school.
One pastor shared that when his student moved to a new area school, he was able to stay connected as that student's mentor. Mentors meet with their students during school hours at the school. Some mentors are retired, but others will meet with their students on their lunch breaks. This is a relational ministry—not a money handout.
Churches can hear the needs of either the student or their families and help to meet those needs, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. Some students give up recess time to meet with their mentors. One mentor said his student asked if his friend could also have a mentor. Both students and mentors are enriched through this highly valued mutual relationship experience.
The coordinator of Kids Hope USA at the church will meet with the school's leadership and teachers involved. Building this kind of rapport within the community sets the stage for many opportunities for peace, restoration, social justice, and the work of the good news. For many students, this is their closest relationship through the school system. School administration will look to the mentor for help if they lose touch with the student due to moving, which opens the door to be salt and light.
Engagement is individual—mentor and student. But it's also community-wide through school systems, leadership, and neighborhoods. The church is changed as it engages its heart with these students and issues of the community. Students' lives are broadened with the love of the mentor and the church. Good happens on many levels, and God's kingdom comes in this work. As we invest ourselves, we—God's community—begin to love one another.
If your church is already involved with Kids Hope USA, see if they need more mentors or ask how you can be praying for a mentor and student. If your church doesn't participate with Kids Hope USA, schools are looking for churches to participate in this mentorship program. The opportunity awaits. Here is a mission experience right in your backyard, a way you can be a "sent one."
Carla Bieber is a local mission leader in Resonate Global Mission's Great Lakes region.