A miracle in Antioch
By Gil Hanke
This last Sunday, our church in Antioch, Tenn., celebrated the work of ten college interns from across the country who spent this summer working with at-risk children through Project Transformation.
Our church is a great space to host this work, but, ironically, we have few school-aged children attending our church on Sunday mornings.
We have a great Cub Scout pack, some children in the nursery, but not many in our “holy huddle” which completes our children’s time in worship.
By contrast, Project Transformation registers 120 children who attend a wide range of activities Monday through Thursday during the summer. We get help from other UM churches in our area, and many of our members serves as volunteers. My wife helps several days a week by being read to; she loves it.
The goals are focused on reading, which transforms these children into better students. Studies reveal children who read during the summer are better students in the fall.
Those goals were clearly met by every child. But, on Sunday, we heard from ten college students who were also transformed.
Based on the number of interns, their lack of experience in teaching or working with elementary and middle-school children, and the huge number of children, failure seem a more likely outcome to them on day one. But each of these interns will never be the same. All will complete this summer more confident and blessed than when they began.
Some will change their majors; one will even change the college he is attending to get a degree in youth ministry.
Some who are staying in the area will be help grow a children’s program at our church.
This transformation of interns is also part of the plan, and one of the key factors was (and is) their reliance on God. Something supernatural happened that made this all work. The hand of God, some Christian leaders, and some local volunteers all showed up and made this a huge success.
The interns and volunteers will never be the same.
Those who heard their stories of growth in faith, will never be the same.
And those children, now ready to excel, will never be the same.
What can your church do to reach out to your neighborhood?
Gil Hanke, chief executive officer
General Commission on UM Men