I belong to a homeschool playgroup of about 8 families. (We have tried to keep this group small.) This Christmas, our playgroup decided to be more purposeful about reaching out to the poor.
Personally, I don’t think our children are going to develop a heart to serve others unless we, as parents, provide opportunities for them to do so. So, I was thrilled when Cathee, one of the moms in our group, suggested that we “adapt” a group of 50 young children from Tondo for a day so we could do something special for them.
We invited them to come to Kidzville in Podium. The idea was to sponsor a day of feasting, playing, and fellowship. But most of all, we wanted them to hear the gospel message and let them encounter Jesus Christ. Besides our own financial commitments, I was so blessed by how people in the group were able to raise the funds and collect donations by enlisting the support of others — friends, family. God really provided more than enough. Of course, we all recruited our children to pack the give-away bags and groceries. They had a whole lot of fun doing it, too.
The day began early at Trevor and Bonnie’s home so we could consolidate everything by 11 am. We then headed to Podium Mall to meet the children at Kidzville. Located on the 4th floor of the mall, it is an amazing play place that looks like a miniature town. Another part of it is similar to Active Fun but scaled down a bit. My kids love this place. The owner graciously allowed us (thanks to Betty’s negotiating skills) to use the area to host the children from Tondo. (I must say that I was impressed with how carefully the Kidzville staff cleaned everything after the children used it. They washed all the toys and scrubbed the place down.)
Henry Gula, also a homeschool dad, gave the gospel message in Filipino. We let the children eat a hearty buffet meal sponsored by a lady in our group whom I am sure would prefer to remain unnamed. And the kids had the time of their life running around the play area. Afterwards, we distributed their bags and loaded groceries unto the bus they came in.
It was a very good ministry experience for our kids. Sometimes our children have no idea how blessed they are to have the comforts that they do. The kids from Tondo have so little. Some of them were practically inhaling their food because it was such a treat for them to be eating so much.
I set the same food in front of my kids and they said things like, “I’m not hungry. I don’t want to eat that.” I looked at them and replied, “Don’t you dare complain about the food. The children over there (pointing to where the Tondo kids were seated) go through the trash to find food to eat. They eat bones from chicken that people throw away. So don’t tell me that you don’t like your food. You will eat that food.” The bones thing is very true. It was featured on TV. My kids looked at my I-mean-business-face when I said this and proceeded to eat.
This experience was one way to let our children get up close and personal with poverty. They told me this evening that they learned to be more grateful. I really don’t want our children to grow up so unconscious of how impoverished other people are. I sometimes fear that the comforts they are so used to will make them approach life with a sense of entitlement. So these ministry outreaches are an important part of their education. I really believe it helps to condition their hearts to look beyond themselves to see the needs of others.
We were only able to reach out to fifty children. In relation to the number people who need to be clothed, fed, and ministered to spiritually, this seems so insignificant. But I am hoping that our playgroup can do this kind of thing more frequently.