In July the South Coast Region went into a local community called Merlewood to run our annual holiday club. Merlewood is a rough and tough community with many challenges ranging from drug abuse, to fatherless homes and yet God is at work, doing what he does best. This year we just wanted to show these children that they are loved and precious in God’s eyes, that they have a value and a purpose that goes beyond any human understanding. We wanted them to know that God chose them to be part of his family, despite their weaknesses and sins and that he wants them to be on his team, despite their past failures. God provided an awesome team of volunteers from across the South Coast and even from America who showed these children such love over the week as we taught and explored these issues through challenges, crafts, talks and object lessons.
Some of the leaders had challenging groups, but they were able to impart some of God’s love into the lives of these children and we could see small signs of growth happening. One child who has a reputation in the community (as well as having a heart-breaking history), came along and, although he caused some big problems, he kept coming and even at one point was willing to admit that he had done something wrong. This is a giant leap for him. Interestingly after the holiday club, a past volunteer saw a photo of him and sent us a photo of the same child 8 years ago at our Merlewood Holiday Club.
This holiday club may be one of the few positive influences in his life and, although he may have gone off track in some areas of his life, he keeps coming back and God is still at work in him. Another child who came to holiday club, also was sponsored to come on our April Kids’ Camp this year and it was exciting to see this child with tears in his eyes as he sat with a leader and committed his life to Jesus. He was one of eight children who sat with us and accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Praise God! Five of them even stayed after the program had finished one day to talk to a leader and do this, showing their commitment to it. We continue to see children from the holiday club as we go into the local schools each week to run a Christian group and hear stories of how God is working in their lives. They are even asking when the next one will be. This is the power of our regular activities to touch and impact lives.
SU South Coast Associate Staff Worker