Anna Whitney and her team at Bellevue Baptist Church have gone above and beyond the call of duty in supporting their Beach Club during these peculiar times. Anna’s journey began when she joined Bellevue Baptist Church and started helping in the ARISE2Read non-profit ministry connected with the church.
ARISE2Read helps second graders learn to read while evangelizing at the same time. This effort was an amazing opportunity to reach the hearts and minds of the children in their community. Still, they knew they could do more and began searching for innovative ways to get connected with more families and churches in the Memphis community.
After observing several different club options, they loved the quality of the curriculum and the support systems of KiDs Beach Clubs. They partnered with KiDs Beach Clubs and kicked off two new clubs in Cordova and Frazier elementary schools. Both clubs began with around 30 students and grew from there.
Over the course of the semester, Anna had the opportunity to build relationships with most of the kids. On the first day, Anna noticed one young boy who clearly loved KiDs Beach Clubs: “I asked him to pray before we left, and one thing he said in his prayer was, ‘Lord, thank you that no one got shot today.’ And that was a wake-up call. To hear the kids talk about where they come from, it just made us realize that these kids need the Gospel more than ever!”
The school community began looking upon these new clubs with great interest. “What's interesting is a ton of school principals are interested and want to start it up,” Anna says. With the community behind them, and many local principals eagerly hoping to help expand the clubs to their schools, things were looking bright as both KiDs Beach Clubs roared into the spring of 2020!
But then they hit a roadblock with COVID. When the entire nation shut down due to the Coronavirus, Anna and the team began calling each of the children’s parents to check in on the kids in the clubs and make sure they and their families were doing well amidst the chaos.
The team then embraced the shift to virtual clubs as KiDs Beach Club® went online. But as they talked with the families, they soon realized they had another problem. Due to the socioeconomic status of many of the children’s families, many kids had no reliable online access.
The innovative leaders developed a solution. They began using KiDs Beach Club’s Hang 10 Summer Reading Program to continue ministering to the children. Amanda headed an effort to send physical copies of the Summer Reading Program along with letters of encouragement and hope to all of their students.
“We believe that even if only one child took advantage of this reading program, it was worth it for sure,” Anna says. These letters were welcomed by both the children and parents, many of whom expressed how incredibly thankful they were for someone to take the time to remind the children that they had not been forgotten.
Building on the momentum of the Summer Reading Program, the Bellevue leaders took full advantage of the free VBS curriculum provided by KiDs Beach Club this year for outdoor ministry. They took the VBS experience to the apartment complexes where the kids lived. They offered 4 sessions each day with 10 kids each.
It required more effort initially, but as Anna says, “We want to continue going out there, simply because we don't want to be that face that showed up for a few days and just vanished. We want to be there to form lasting relationships and make a real eternal difference!”
Anna and the entire team of Beach Club volunteers at Bellevue Baptist Church have been more than teachers or volunteers to their students. They have become an innovative example for others to see that even while in the midst of adversity or tough times, with Christ there is always a way.
“Our hope is that what we did would inspire other churches and ministries to do the same thing. Think of this season as an opportunity, not to think, Well, we can't do anything now,” Anna says. “I truly feel this is opening up more doors of opportunity for the Gospel to go forth. So that is our hope and our prayer here in Memphis, Tennessee, and beyond!”
Published on Sep 16 @ 4:04 PM CDT
What does a retired school leader do after serving for 40 years in education? She volunteers with KiDs Beach Club®, of course!
Patricia Smith began her journey as a teacher decades ago in a local elementary school. One Christmas, she came to realize just how difficult it was to even refer to the Bible in public schools. She had purchased a nativity scene to decorate her classroom bulletin board, yet Patricia was reprimanded for her actions, and she was forced to remove it.
After more than 38 years of service, Patricia retired from teaching in 2014, but she was called back to lead as a principal at West Point Elementary School in Windermere, Florida near Orlando. She and her good friend, Denise, who had served 14 years with her at the same elementary school, led the school in its opening years together.
As the year progressed, Denise began looking for partnership opportunities that they could use to get the Gospel into the schools. Patricia wasn’t too keen on the idea of jumping right into a partnership in the school’s first year, but she left the possibility open.
One day, Denise’s phone rang. It was a KiDs Beach Club® representative calling to inquire if West Point Elementary would like to host a Beach Club.
Denise checked out the KBC website and showed it to Patricia. As they watched the content on the site from videos to testimonials, Patricia made her decision. “The kids looked like they were having fun. They were with their group leaders in a gym and playing, and it just looked so fun.”
She had finally found a way for Jesus to be cool in school.
Patricia worked with the local KBC leaders to plan the club for Wednesdays when the teachers would have a planning meeting resulting in class letting out early.
“The interaction was fabulous because I think we laid the groundwork, and then kids thought it was fun. I didn't hear any negativity about it! I really think some of the parents felt, ‘Ok, this school has a club, something for my kid to do after school,” Patricia says, “and I don't have to get off work an hour early to come pick them up.’”
In the first year, the Beach Club ministered to over 80 children weekly. God's Word was spreading through the school system and touching the hearts of these children who otherwise might never have heard it. After nearly 42 years teaching, administrating, and serving the children via the public school system, Patricia retired.
Some people are born with a desire to serve, and others choose to serve when they witness the importance of the cause.
“I never had that desire to stay involved in education,” Patricia says, “but I knew that KiDs Beach Club® was a way to bring Vacation Bible School back into the schools. So this was an open door, and I chose to stay at West Point and volunteer with the club. In fact, I would like to see it in all Orange County public schools.”
She has been volunteering at the very same Beach Club in West Point Elementary that she was so monumental in founding back in 2014.
As a result of her choice to open the door to KiDs Beach Club®, these kids now have an opportunity to know Jesus, and Patrica can continue her journey as she helps lead these children to the light that never fades, and the love that never fails.
Even though COVID-19 restrictions have prevented many of our faithful KBC volunteers from serving the Lord inside the public schools during this semester, there are many opportunies to serve from home. KBC will be sending all 10,000 of our students from last year, links to watch Beach Club at HOME! One of the areas KBC needs your help during this time is writing notes to these students to encourage them each week! Please pray about it and if you are interested in assisting just click here to send an email to let us know.
Published on Sep 09 @ 3:02 PM CDT
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
We can all agree that the last several months have felt like one trial after another, and for those of us who’ve been planning, postponing, and re-imagining the KiDs Beach Club® annual Bibles for Beach Club Benefit dinner, this verse resonates especially well.
However, as James urges, we are persevering and innovating, driven by the passion for reaching the hearts of children and connecting them and their families to churches.
Today we are excited to share that we have overcome the many obstacles to our yearly Bible fundraiser and are poised to deliver a top-notch, engaging, and empowering virtual experience that will allow us to bring everyone together.
This time it will not only be for those who would have physically joined us in Texas, but for Christians from around the country and the world whose support makes it possible for us to put Bibles in the hands of so many children every year!
COVID-19 concerns prevented a physical gathering, so we are pleased to invite you to join us for the first-ever Rise UP 4 KiDs, a virtual fundraising event to be held on Sunday, August 30, 2020, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Central Time.
Why have we decided to host a virtual event, rather than canceling our twice-rescheduled event altogether?
First and foremost, we absolutely must raise funds for Bibles to put into the hands of kids this fall. And we need the funds by October.
Now, more than ever, given the current atmosphere of unrest and anxiety in our country, KBC is a way for churches, volunteers, and parents to impact their community and help kids feel more connected to God and His Word.
Bible and Character Education transforms kids and schools, fostering life change in the hearts of children. And make no mistake: we are at a critical juncture. Our future as a nation depends on the faith formation of today’s youth.
Our Rise UP 4 KiDs event will feature keynote speaker George Barna, bestselling author and founder of The Barna Group, an evangelical Christian polling research firm.
“There are three big players that are shaping the worldview of children in America,” according to Mr. Barna. “They are family, government, and media. The government and media are not going to help us, but the families, ministries, and churches have an opportunity—but we must have a plan. It starts with children. When we change the heart, mind, and souls of children, that is when we change America. It is more important than who is in the White House or the head of Disney. We need a 2 to 3 generation turnaround and it must begin today!”
KiDs Beach Club® stands ready to empower churches to lead this turnaround! Our four primary objectives include:
- Impacting Communities for the Kingdom
- Sharing Christ in Public Schools
- Fostering Life Change in the Hearts of Children
- Connecting Families to a Church Family
But what if our present trials continue and the pandemic lingers well into the school year? Still, we will persist and innovate!
Right now our field teams are talking to the various school districts and exploring creative alternatives. We’re providing our partnering churches with curricular material and working with them to explore where else they might hold gatherings, such as at a park, at a YMCA, or in an apartment complex. The ministry will go forward regardless of circumstances because the Father has called us to reach these children.
But none of this will happen without the support of our partnering churches and schools, our more than 2,600 volunteers, and the rest of the KiDs Beach Club® community at large, including our newest supporters just coming on board this year.
So save the date, August 30th, at 6:00 pm CT, and plan to meet us online as we come together for a powerful hour of advancing the Kingdom.
“What are you going to do to change the worldview of children in America?” Mr. Barna asks. “We cannot rely on anyone else.”
Published on Jul 06 @ 1:48 PM CDT
Turning Point Church, in Fort Worth, Texas had a problem. Like a lot of churches, they wanted to engage the public schools to deepen connection with the local community. But in spite of repeated attempts to reach out to the schools, they kept hearing, “We’ll call you if we need anything.” But the calls never came.
For Children’s Pastors Ray and Nancy Baldwin, the closed doors were especially painful. The couple has always had a vibrant children’s ministry wherever they served. They even developed a robust discipleship program for children of all ages called the Knights of God.
As they led the growing children’s ministry at the church, they tried everything to engage the local schools. Finally, they forged a friendship with a local elementary principal.
And then a call came from a KiDs Beach Club® field representative: “Are you interested in serving in the local public school?” Ray and Nancy jumped at the opportunity!
As the club neared its debut meeting, they set up a Beach Club table to register kids on the Meet the Teacher Day. “We had about thirty kids sign up that day,” Ray recalls, “and over the months that followed, we had well over eighty kids who signed up and came to join us! And over the six years since we began, our numbers have grown to over a hundred. It's been crazy!”
And that was just the beginning. Many of the children have professed faith in Christ, and their families began attending church events and services. As a result, unchurched, Hindu, Muslim, and even atheist families have trusted Christ and are now part of Turning Point Church.
The connection between church, school, and families has only deepened over time. Kids from Beach Club and their families can be seen at every Turning Point Church event.
For example, the church hosts a harvest festival every year complete with bounce houses, food, and fun of all sorts.
It's become a huge event in the community, bringing unchurched families into contact with the good news of Christ.
Many of Ray’s and Nancy’s church students, Knights in their discipleship program, help at the KiDs Beach Club®. And some of the students at the Beach Club who came to the church with their families ended up joining the Knights at Turning Point Church.
And the relationship with the local schools has deepened, answering the church’s prayers. The church is now an integrated part of the local school, celebrating and supporting the teachers and staff.
As a result of their partnership with KiDs Beach Club®, not only has Jesus been brought into the local school, but the children and teachers at the local school are actually welcomed into the church building.
The Church hosts a “Math-a-ween” event for the local school in the church's own building each fall. The church provides snacks and games for the school children to enjoy, complete with artificial “campfires.”
To this day, Ray and Nancy greet every student when they enter the club and cherish every moment they spend with their new family. Meanwhile, attendance at Turning Point Church has continued to grow in the past six years since the Club began.
Thanks to its partnership with KiDs Beach Club®, the church was able to get outside the walls of the church and into the hearts of the students and the surrounding community.
Published on Jul 06 @ 1:48 PM CDT
At KiDs Beach Club®, we’ve always endeavored to impact families and communities with the love of Christ. As we’ve grown, the impact of our ministry has extended.
We’ve seen numbers grow, but our greatest achievements go well beyond statistics. They are found in the powerful and moving testimonies of those whose lives we’ve affected.
And it’s not just kids who are impacted! Parents, grandparents, siblings, extended family—many families have come to find a church home via KiDs Beach Club®.
We recently asked for input from parents about the impact of KiDs Beach Club®, and we were overwhelmed with all of the positive comments.
Here are just a few of the hundreds of positive things parents told us about KiDs Beach Club®:
- “My daughter loves the Godly relationships and the influences her Beach Club teachers have on her life. In fact, everything now revolves around, ‘does it interfere with Beach Club?’ I love it!”
- “We love KiDs Beach Club®. My son enjoys going each week, and the lessons that they discuss reinforce qualities and characteristics taught in our home. Nowhere else in the public school system will they be exposed to the things they learn in Beach Club. As a parent, I love the weekly emails informing me of their topic for the week so we can discuss together when my child comes home. Can't emphasize enough how much we LOVE Beach Club!”
- “KiDs Beach Club® is a wonderful opportunity for children to receive the love of Jesus at their school. The volunteers are all-in. It is evident that they love God, and through the love of God, they love our children and show it. They send letters and cards in the mailbox. KiDs Beach Club® is a great opportunity for your children to learn who Christ is. I wish that KiDs Beach Club® could spread to every elementary school in the nation!”
- “I am so glad that the Bible gets to be opened in schools; every child needs a chance to read and learn about it.”
- “Thanks for ALL you are doing for our children! Y’all are a great team that really cares about the children and are always looking for ways to make a great impact in the community!”
- “KiDs Beach Club® is an awesome program. My children love it!”
- “It's a good way for our children to focus on the principles of being a Christian, not just on Sunday!”
- “My child has had a wonderful time at Beach Club. He's been memorizing verses and getting to learn more about the Bible. He truly looks forward to it every week!”
- “My child loves going and learning more about Jesus on her level!”
These are just a few of the amazing replies we got from parents across the nation about the impact of KiDs Beach Club®.
Thanks to our generous donors, volunteers, and church leaders, the ripple effects of this ministry continue to spread throughout the hearts and homes of so many children and their families.
In a world of upheaval and uncertainty, God’s word is forever constant and unchanging. That’s why one volunteer described the impact this way:
The world has changed drastically in the past 30 years. The children of today are facing a world full of turmoil. In order to survive as they grow older, they need God in their lives to guide and direct them and give them the love and comfort they will so desperately need.
Through Beach Club, we can share God's word, His joy and love, and make them hungry to know more about our Lord and Savior.
The credit doesn’t belong to us. After all, we are only living out Christ’s command to his disciples: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Luke 18:16 (NIV)
Thank you for standing with us in this ministry as a lighthouse in the sea of the public school system. Without the guiding light, these children could potentially wander into dangerous waters in life.
And please pray for all our parents and rejoice with us that we can be a blessing to thousands of them and that our contribution to the Kingdom of God will only grow as we move forward!
Published on Jul 06 @ 1:48 PM CDT