A kaleidoscope is probably one of the most fascinating toys you may own as a child. Seemingly pretty simple upon first glance (and lacking in the fun factor), as you lift it up to your eye you are surprised by what you see. Dazzling colors that cause your eyes to zigzag back and forth transporting you into a world full of beauty, joy, and child-like wonder.
The same can be said for the Kaleidoscope Program at Trinity Baptist Church. Kaleidoscope is our ministry for special needs children and their families that promote beauty, joy, and cater to child-like wonder. The program is committed to loving our special needs children and their families; teaching the word of God through pictures, stories, songs, and crafts; including our children in the E-Theatre as much as possible; and providing a safe and happy environment for our children to thrive. The program is only available at our Hammond Campus during the 10:45am service and is directed by Susanna Zekas.
Recently we were able to sit down with the parents of Savannah, one of our Kaleidoscope Kids. Here’s their story:
“We started bringing Savannah to Kaleidoscope special needs class when she was three years old. Like many children with special needs such as autism, we knew it would be difficult for her to be supported in the typical children’s environment at church. Without a ministry such as Kaleidoscope, we would have been unable to attend church or one [of us] would have to care for Savannah while the other came to church.
Savannah represents a true fulfillment of Kaleidoscope’s two-fold mission to (1) love and care for children while their families attend worship and (2) help the children engage in TrinityKids to the extent that they are able to do so. Savannah, strong in her own right, has conquered many challenges over the past eight years and has blossomed into a smart, beautiful preteen. She needs almost no support in E-Theatre (children’s church), loves to do the motions during worship, and even participates in games!
Up until a couple years ago, Savannah (an only child) did not tolerate the large group well and remained in the classroom for all or most of her time at church. Now we are so excited that she eagerly attends E-Theatre, joins in the singing, and listens attentively. In small group time, Savannah enjoys crafts, painting, coloring, and watching her favorite DVD of old-school Sunday School songs (Father Abraham, anyone?). Some of her favorites are Frozen, the color blue, and “Mackeydonalds” (McDonald’s) – a reward she receives when she is good at church, which is every week these days! Overall, we truly enjoy being a blessing and encouragement to our other families who have children with special needs, simply by sharing our story and offering a kind word and smile. We enjoy volunteering in the Kaleidoscope classroom once a month and are so thankful that this family calls Trinity their church home.”
Interested in learning more about the Kaleidoscope Program or how you can get involved like Savanah’s parents to pour into our sweet children? We would love to have more volunteers to be able to help more families! Please visit https://tbc.org/kaleidoscope/ or reach out directly to the director, Susanna, at email@example.com to get connected.
Andrew Carr, Outreach Director at the Hammond Campus, and Josh Evans, Oakleaf Connections Pastor, recently came together to develop a very creative method to reach and connect with people moving to our community. The ingenious idea was the creation of a “new move-in bag.” What better way to welcome new families to our area than with a thoughtful and useful gift? Research indicates that literally hundreds of families move to our area each year and the new home construction around us bears this out.
Beginning with our official Trinity logo gift bags (that was the easy part), the team explored many ideas to make a successful outreach tool. The result was to place a small potted succulent plant in the bag as a gift, as well as information about our church and a note of welcome to the community.
Assembly lines began putting together the bags, and the next step was creating a plan to distribute them. So, how did this unfold? Announcements during services invited our church family to participate by picking up gift bags to deliver to their new neighbors. Word was spread on social media. Trinity’s members were eager to participate, and bags were quickly picked up after church, far exceeding our expectations. Our people were so energized that multiple bags were taken, and our teams were pressed into producing more bags than were originally anticipated.
explains Josh. “It didn’t take a lot of convincing because our people, our church family, are passionate about outreach. It was encouraging to see everyone excited to get involved.”
In the short span of a few weeks, over 300 gift bags have been distributed. Many receiving the gift bags have called to say thanks and to ask for information about our church. Andrew and Josh believe this will result in further interest over the coming months, and that the effect will be long term as families settle in and look for a church home or perhaps have a need.
In terms of numbers, this campaign appears successful. However, the greatest success might be seeing so many people in our church engaged in connecting with those outside our church. Andrew sums it up this way,
“Success is not really how many bags were distributed, but it’s God’s people stepping up, stepping out, to show the love of Jesus to our community. We’d love to see everyone in our church mobilized as the hands and feet of Jesus so that those we encounter will say, ‘Wow, those people really care’.”
The death of George Floyd at the hands of police is deeply disturbing and also reinforces the fear that justice is not always applied equally among people of color. We pray that justice will be pursued quickly and fairly.
It is important to acknowledge our appreciation for law enforcement that put their lives on the line, sacrificially and in service of others, but at the same time we need to be grieved when the use of force goes too far. It is particularly egregious when the use of force is somehow applied based on color of skin. These are conversations that we must have and we must be willing to listen to the experiences, fears, and concerns of those that believe that there is not equal treatment or protection under the law.
The scriptures could not be more clear about the fact that human beings are distinct in the fact that they are made in the image of God. All humans, male and female, regardless of ethnicity, color, and age are image bearers of God and are valued and loved by Him – equally. We must, along with scripture, both Old and New Testament, condemn murder, injustice, and mistreatment of others, particularly the most vulnerable among us. Today, we grieve with those that grieve, we weep with those that weep, and we long for and work toward a world that values all human beings and is fair and just for everyone.
I believe that words are not enough in this moment and that our church must find ways to work toward racial reconciliation that reflects our deeply held gospel beliefs.
– Pastor Tom Messer