By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor
Woodland Hills Church
Several weeks ago in Heroes Gate and Club 56, children were challenged to raise money to help peers living in youth homes in Mexico receive bedding supplies through our yearly Love Makes Cents campaign. While to us this may not seem like an important focal point for raising funds, the value is driven by two reasons. First, we work with Esperanza Viva youth and staff to determine how our efforts can directly effect the residents. Second, we seek to find a way to connect the need to the everyday things we take for granted in Minnesota. This way, we hope to give children an opportunity to see the world beyond their day-to-day experiences and develop a compassion for others around the world.
Esperanza Viva has two youth homes that provide more than a place to live. Children experience loving adults, an education, skill-building, and opportunities beyond what would have been available to them before their arrival. This holistic ministry provides an environment where kids can flourish, heal, and be equipped to have healthy relationships as well as the ability to be productive citizens.
Esperanza Viva is part of a larger ministry called Living Hope. The founders, Jerry and Susy McNally, have been connected to Woodland Hills Church for many years as a partner ministry. This organization values mission teams to support and enhance their work. Our church has sent many teams there over the years, including our youth ministry who has often sent teams to serve during the summer.
Love Makes Cents has been a Heroes Gate learning element for almost a decade, and we continue to be amazed at the generosity and compassion of the children. They find a way to fill their banks and meet the financial goal every time. They’ve provided for kids in Haiti, Mexico, and Rwanda and these gifts continue to enhance each of those ministries.
We encourage you to discuss why giving is an important part of our role as followers of Christ with your children: Our generosity stems from the selfless love and endless provision of Christ, and we are blessed when we give just as much as those who receive it.
Ways to help kids learn more about Esperenza Viva Youth Homes:
- Visit their website and look at the pictures posted there: http://lovehopemercy.org/esperanza-viva-youth-homes.html
- Using a map of North America, locate Puebla, Mexico, and the town you live in. Have kids measure the distance between using their arm or hand or older kids can figure out the miles with the map’s legend.
- As kids get into bed, remind them of how their gift will provide the same comfort for a child far away. Then pray for the recipients to feel God’s love whenever they climb into bed.
- Share about the ways you give, why you give, and who receives it.
- Come up with a plan to help your children consistently give and determine who will receive their gifts. Perhaps a jar or bank with a picture of the recipient ministry on the outside could be placed somewhere in your home for spare change and donations throughout the year.
Love Makes Cents ends this weekend, so remember to bring in LMC banks this Sunday, February 22nd!