For some time now we had been feeling burdened for the parents of the children who attend our community center in the slums of Colonia Santa Fe.
We had been teaching and ministering to the children for years, instructing them in God’s word, helping them with their homework, giving them computer classes, taking them on field trips, and giving them a safe place to learn.
Yet as we came to know the parents better, we started to understand just how great their need was, and saw the opportunity to minister to them as well. They face immense difficulties in their lives, financial struggles, a lack of job opportunities, are surrounded by violence, and many have tragically lost children to murders by gangs that control the area. There is a general feeling of loss and discouragement amongst so many of them.
Seeing this cycle of brokenness, something we know that only the grace and Mercy of God can break. We felt a sense of urgency to work closer with the parents, to point them to Christ, to help them know who He truly is, and to teach them of His goodness and greatness. We want to give them a clearer understanding of who they truly are, image bearers of a wonderful God! A God of such great love, that He sent His son to pay a horrific price, not only that we might be redeemed from sin, but also that we might be adopted as sons, co-heirs with Christ who now have the privilege to address Him as “Abba” Father (Galatians 4:4-7).
Finding a space to hold a Bible study group was somewhat challenging, as our small community center basically consists of a small room filled with desks, chairs, computers, and books. We have been praying for bigger location to better serve this community, yet we didn’t think that we could wait till we found the perfect place to start our women’s group.
So, after inviting the mothers to attend, I headed down there one Tuesday morning to make it work. We moved the desks to create a small circle of chairs, rearranged the stacks of books that are overflowing on our lending library, brought some cookies, and made some coffee…and waited.
It was far from the ideal setting, yet it was what we had. I knew that what truly mattered was not the perfect location, but that where two or three were gathered together in Christs name, He would be there among us (Mathew 18:20). I knew that I had at least eight women who had signed up, yet how many of them would be there I didn’t know. The only thing I was sure of was that the Holy Spirit had laid a burden on my heart to do this.
I was pleasantly surprised when they started to trickle in. As I took time to talk with them and get to know each one personally, I found out that some had walked for over 20 min with their little ones in tow, just to be there with us. It brought joy to my heart to see that they were not just interested in the programs we offer their children, or in the computer classes they take in our center, but that they had a desire to get to know God better.
We started with a topic that God had laid on my heart, learning about Him as our good Father, who He is, and why we can trust in Him. So far it has been great! With a lot of active participation, discussion, and commentary from the women. During our last class the discussion went on for so long that we were passed the allotted time, I was concerned that some of them might need to leave to get on with their day. I asked them if we should stop and continue next week. However, when I asked them, they all said that they wanted to continue studying “just a little bit more”. I was so excited to see their interest and hunger for God’s Word.
One thing that was beautiful to see was how well behaved their little ones were during the class. I made sure to have snacks and coloring pages for them during the class and they were quiet and well behaved, letting their mothers participate in the study.
Like so many of the things we do, it is a small beginning, but we are excited and looking forward to what God will continue to do in this community. Will this women’s group go on to become something bigger? I don’t know, will it last more than a month or a year? Again, I don’t know. But I do know that I have been called to play a part in His greater story and to work with those He has called me to reach. So, I am excitedly looking forward to seeing hearts, lives, and families changed through God’s redemptive power.