Thank you for inquiring about our youth/children’s inner-city mission work here at Word of Life Christian Center. Let me first start out by explaining a little bit of who we are. We are a small non-denominational full-gospel church located in the inner-city of Marion, Ohio. In 1999 my wife and I felt the call of God to move to Marion and begin a brand- new work and church plant. A few years later we bought a church building in the inner- city area. At that time, we had about 15-20 children who were coming to the church with their families.
The church was doing pretty well, but as time went on, I felt like we were coming to a dead-end with our ministry. I didn’t know what else do to, but we were seeking God’s guidance. My wife and I went to a missions conference in Kentucky and it was there the Lord revealed to both of us to reach the children. We came back to our church in Marion and shared the vision. The people were excited to be a part of it and to do whatever they could to work with the kids.
It was also around this time I received a letter from the city feeding program that takes place during the summer months. They wanted to know if we would be interested in doing some kind of fun games and activities with the children. We gladly agreed to help and for the past 11-years we have been holding our own VBS outdoors on the school property! We have nearly 100-children show up by the end of the week. We play games, give out prizes, sing songs, perform skits and teach the Gospel. It is a sight to see! About five or six years ago we also partnered with Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) where we are able to go into the public schools and minister the Gospel. We have some people in our church who are a part of this ministry and teach.
Here at Word of Life we have a program/ministry for children called Royal Rangers and Missionettes. This ministry is like boy scouts and girl scouts, but with a Christian based curriculum. With the boy’s ministry we take them camping, hiking, biking and many other activities. With the girls they do crafts, bible stories, bible memorization, art projects, games, and occasional field trips. We started this ministry about 16-years ago. It has grown over the years as we now bus in about 70-80 kids every Wednesday night. We currently own two 15 passenger vans and one 20 passenger mini-bus. We are out of classroom space in our church and need to expand.
Every Wednesday night the girls meet downstairs and all the boys meet upstairs in the church. We are literally out of room. We are so very thankful that we were able to purchase some property right behind the church. The lot is 144-feet wide by 400-feet long. It’s a miracle in itself that we were able to purchase this land for just $5,000.00. The company that owned it practically donated the land to us. This is where we hope to put a 40’x80’ building for classroom space for our boys’ ministry. If we can move the boys to this building then the girls would have more room in the church as they could utilize the classroom space both upstairs and downstairs.
Okay, now that I’ve given some of the preliminaries of the church and ministry, let me share my heart with you about these children. Being down here in the inner-city of Marion we commonly see a lot of broken homes, dysfunctional families, child abuse, sexual abuse, drug abuse and verbal abuse. A lot of the children don’t have a dad or if they do, they don’t know where he is. Many of the children have a parent in prison, sometimes both parents. Some of these kids have very little stability as they move from house to house each year or sometimes every few months. Some of the children are tossed around from one family member to another. Some of the children come to the church with dirty faces, dirty cloths, lice and even roaches. We have had girls come to church bald, because their parents shaved their heads due to lice. Some deal with identity issues and wonder if they are homosexual or bisexual. It’s a common thing these kids deal with on a daily basis.
We have children in Foster Care. Some children have lost a parent or both parents due to drug overdose. Some have been abandoned by their mom or dad or both. They come hungry and many times we will bring food or snacks or order 20 pizzas to feed them. We have special holiday meals and celebrations for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We buy presents for Christmas, which is our shoebox ministry. The kids absolutely go crazy and they love it! The smiles on their faces and the joy they express is priceless.
We never turn a child away. We simply love them where they are. We do our best to reach every one of these kids with the love of Jesus. We are a small church with about 70-75 members, but these people have huge hearts. They have supported these children through the years with clothes, shoes, coats, food and even have taken boys to get their hair cut.
Through our ministry program we try to teach these children not only about the love of Jesus, but that they have purpose and meaning for living. They are not here by accident, but God created them for a reason. Although others may reject them, Jesus accepts them and we accept them.
We don’t have as much to offer these children as larger churches might have the capability of doing, but they keep coming back. I believe they feel that we genuinely love and care about them. I have great teachers who love these children who spend a lot of time helping these kids to work off merits etc. After they complete a merit they are rewarded with a medal or badge along with recognition of doing a great job when we have our Awards Ceremony. The whole church along with any parents who are willing show up for support and to show we care. Sadly, we don’t have as many parents as we would like to have participate.
We are trying to help and teach these kids to have a sense of value, to build self-esteem and confidence in each heart along with a sense of accomplishment in which they are rewarded. We are hoping by doing this that these children will not follow the abusive and dysfunctional patterns they commonly know all too well. They will have a sense of value, accomplishment and integrity to be young men and women of God. We pray that as they grow up, they will be good, loving moms & dads who take care of their families and loved ones. We are hoping they will become young leaders with purpose who will also be willing to invest into others. We are praying that by investing in these children’s lives they will not fall victim to drug or alcohol abuse. We know that we can’t reach all of them, but we try to reach as many as we can. I firmly believe that once we build this new building the children’s ministry will double or triple in size. We already have our bus and vans packed to capacity and have to make double trips to pick up and drop off.
Just recently I was questioning the fact that we are trying to build a 3,200 square foot building for our children’s ministry. I was thinking of the cost and the fact that we don’t have a huge church and the many things that go along with a building project. “Am I doing the right thing?” “Am I crazy for leading the people in this direction?” “What about the funds and overhead expenses?” I was asking my wife if she thought we were in the will of God and doing the right thing.
About an hour later while I went with my wife to the grocery store, she began to tell me about a little girl who walked alone from Davids Street (1 to 1-1/2 miles) all the way to the church in the cold and dark to be there. Then my wife told me about another little girl who thought she missed the bus. She walked all the way to the church in the cold dark night alone from Lee Street. My eyes began to well up in tears; my heart was completely humbled as I told my wife I just got my answer. If these children want to be here so desperately that they’re willing to walk in the cold dark night alone to be in church to hear about Jesus and to be loved by genuine Christians that care about them...you know that we are doing the right thing.
I could go on and on about stories of some of these kids! I can’t tell you of the many marriage proposals I have received from some of the girls...lol. We have one young girl who has made a few attempts of suicide and has been hospitalized on occasion. She has a very dysfunctional home life. She is tossed around from house to house, but we love her and she knows it. She keeps coming back and we continue to do all we can to love her and help the best we know how. Some children have suffered from sexual abuse. There is extreme poverty in some homes. We try to help and be there for these kids. This is our life and this is what we do and we are thankful to be able to hopefully make a difference in each child. This is our mission field and we know that Jesus loves them and has purpose for each of them. Please continue to pray for us and these children.
In His service,
Pastor Mark Mauldin
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 740-360-6762
580 Silver Street Marion, OH 43302
Barbara Thompson Young
"My God shall supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory."
Char, Matthew and Aiden
I love this ministry and how they are trying to reach the children. Wonderful vision.
Randy & Holly. Butcher
Keep up the great work building the Kingdom!
I love this Children's Ministry with all my heart. I know Jesus wants us to love on these children - show love to the least of these. I can't wait to see this building! God is so good all the time.