When we first moved to Kigoma, we were struck by how many kids lived and worked on the streets. While setting up our house, I (Harold) would make daily trips to the market. Each day begging street kids inundated me. Our Land Cruiser became known as a place to get free “tea biscuits.” (I still keep a case in the car!) No matter where I parked – they could find me!
I became burdened to give these kids something more than biscuits – they needed Jesus! So, after talking and praying with Coni, we decided to start a weekly Kid’s Club at our house. We recruited and trained some quality young Tanzanians from a few of the local churches to be our Kid’s Club Leaders. We taught them the Word, and they taught the kids!
For our first club, we had the leaders walk from the downtown area with street kids in tow so they could see where we lived. That first week we had 19 kids and 5 leaders.
Moses, one of our original leaders, now runs the whole show, and today, we have over 70 leaders who run clubs for over 1000 kids every week! We now have 14 locations from Kigoma to almost 100 miles south of us on Lake Tanganyika. The young leaders were so excited to have an outreach to their own people that they have started and run, the other clubs at the different locations. It’s all we can do to keep up with the training for the new leaders! Now the veteran leaders go with us to local churches and in the villages to teach seminars about Children’s Ministry and starting Kid’s Clubs.
The vision behind Kid’s club is to provide a safe, fun, nurturing environment where kids can come and be kids while learning about the love of Jesus. Trying to survive on the streets robs a child of his chance to be a kid. The leaders teach the kids everything from the most basic hygiene to the most essential knowledge of Jesus Christ as their savior. This is done through games, puppets, crafts, songs, and Bible stories.
Kid’s Clubs on Outreach:
Our Kid’s Club leaders travel with us on outreach to the villages to do two things: First, they lead the ministry to children during each day of the outreach. Hundreds of children show up in every village we visit. It can seem overwhelming at times, but our Kid’s Club leaders do an excellent job of engaging the children in games, songs, and Bible study. It is incredible to watch them handle so many children with such love and ease. The leaders also do a great job of integrating visiting outreach teams in the ministry.
Second, Moses and our Kid’s Club leaders teach local church leaders the importance of ministry to children. Very few churches have any ministry to children. Most don’t even know what to do with the children who show up. They try to keep them quiet and out of the way until they get older. Then, somehow, they expect the now youth to want to come back to church. Our leaders teach the churches how to plan and carry out a ministry to children. And why that is so vital to the health of the church. The church leaders are taught how to start and run a Kid’s Club in their area.
Hope of the Nations operates at least two to three weeks of camp every summer. We hold the annual summer camps for youth to refresh and recruit new leaders to the program, as well as Kid’s camps to teach and encourage those children who have been a part of Kid’s Clubs during the year.
Kid’s Club Camps
Every May, at the end of each Kid’s Club season, the kids are given an exam covering the topics taught during the year. The topics include who Jesus is, grace, salvation, prayer, etc.… Any student who scores 70% or better gets to go to camp.
At camp, we have a great time with the kids singing, playing fun teaching games, and lots of time in the Word. The kids love to hear and study the Word of God. Moses and our Kid’s Club leaders run the camp and teach in the daily seminars and at campfire time. Camp allows the kids to see and feel the love of God in a very tangible way. Many kids have their stomachs full for the first time and feel safe around adults. They enjoy just getting to be a kid!
Youth Leadership Camp
This camp is geared towards youth, ages 18 – 24, who have an intense hunger for God’s Word. We put the word out to many different churches up and down the lake to send us their top-notch youth who display leadership potential. Youth travel from all along the shores of Lake Tanganyika (some, a couple of days by boat) to hear and experience God in new & exciting ways at camp. They attend classes taught by HofN staff and guest speakers. They have campfires, participate in challenging/character-building group initiatives, and, most importantly, have a great time worshiping their Creator! The students love to discuss the scriptures between sessions, at meals, breaks, bedtime – it’s amazing! Have you ever had a time in your life when you said, “I can’t believe I get to be here doing this!”…? – maybe you should come to visit!