by Richie Sparling, Outreach Coordinator
Photos by Rachel Sawyer
It has been almost 8 years ago that I prepared for the first time to speak in front of a group of people in connection with my job. Those people were Junior Highers and I was the newly hired JH Youth Pastor. The nervousness of that night was unique. I was not a very polished public speaker, but with time and practice I would eventually find a rhythm and comfort in front of people. I guess more than anything else, the newness of it all and my desire that it would be good; a good night, a good message, a good beginning to my new phase of life, weighed heavily on my shoulders and I could feel that pit in my stomach that you get only when you are nervous about something really important to you.
Fast-forward to the present and the feeling that I haven't experienced in 8 years is welling up inside of me, reminding me of that first message so long ago. Things have certainly changed; one area in particular is that I can now stand in front of a group of people to deliver a message without my hands shaking. Public speaking no longer makes me nervous, but yet I'm nervous. Nervous because of the desire to have this night go well. It's not just that I poured time and energy into this meeting, or that responsibility falls on my shoulders, but that the meeting is the beginning of something so crucial to our ministry in the Dominican Republic: empowering and partnering with the parents of our students for their children's future.
My challenge to the parents for the night is three-fold:
1. Children are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3) and are to be protected (Matt 18:6).
2. The Parent has the primary role in the development of their child (Prov 22:6; 29:15).
3. These Parents are not alone: there is a community around them to support them including Makarios and the local church.
My final challenge to them was that statistics demonstrate that parents who are involved in their child's education, specifically at home, are more successful, and that the number one influence in a child's spiritual life is spiritual conversations in the home. What this means for these parents is that they need to not just embrace the help given to them but own it! Get involved in their child's education and know what's being taught. Not just place them in a place to be spiritually challenged but to model that in their own lives!
I could sense that these words were having an impact on the audience. The Holy Spirit was working in the hearts of the parents. The impact was evident in their response. I invited each of them to visit the classrooms of their children, talk with the teachers, discover what they are learning and what they can be doing in the home. I asked them to lead the charge of change in their children's lives and they jumped to it! Their are not words to describe the emotions of seeing parents grilling teachers on what's happing in the classroom, of seeing our teachers having prepared and welcoming these parents into the classroom and more importantly into the partnership of educating.
It has been an amazing beginning, but at this point that is all that it is: a beginning. The first step has been taken in creating regular parent trainings, now it's time to faithfully work that the Lord may use our efforts to his glory and that the families of the students of Makarios are complete in Jesus Christ. Please pray for the work as it continues.
Have a heart for outreach? Join us in empowering families in our local communities by supporting our outreach efforts by giving towards outreach. Click here , select "General Fund" and put "outreach" in the notes. Gracias!
What is your favorite resource for parent training? Leave a comment!