My mom used to say there are no such things as coincidences, only divine appointments. Such was my brief association with a young woman I met shortly after my husband and I relocated to the Bay Area and had not yet found a home church. Through a-friend-of-a-friend, this young woman knew of Bayshore Christian Ministries, and she recommended I “check it out”.
After many years of teaching and writing bible lessons for children in my state of Colorado, I was looking for a way to share the gospel with kids in this new place God has established as our home.
I’m a teacher and a helper for Bible Club on Wednesdays. My time at Bible Club is intriguing, challenging, and incredibly fulfilling as I get to know BCM’s children. Each interaction, big or small, is one more step toward equipping them to become tomorrow’s leaders.During the offsite education session, I was particularly enlightened by learning of the social and financial challenges children confront when they live with multiple families in small apartments and with parents who work multiple jobs to meet their financial responsibilities. Many of BCM’s kiddos go home to living spaces that are largely void of privacy or a quiet space for homework. Living with other families that may seem like – or may actually be – strangers, can also lead to emotional complications.
Mary Jo with students at Wednesday bible club
The offsite session helped me understand how many parents in East Palo Alto are challenged with English as a second language and bound by the time commitments of multiple jobs. They embrace BCM as a refuge of love, play, and instruction for their children.
I have been blessed to teach experiential lessons that engage BCM children in the bible, principles of Christian character, and the good news of the gospel. As the children warm up to me a little more each week, it’s a privilege to learn about their likes and dislikes, their wit, and their inquisitive minds. I see them think creatively and critically when challenged with open-ended questions that require more than a “yes” or a “no”. I am humbled by the children’s incredibly thoughtful responses and by the evidence of the Holy Spirit at work. I also cherish the little hands that hold mine when we pray to Jesus at the end of each lesson. Offsite educational sessions help me understand the social, economic, and educational challenges that the children in East Palo Alto wake up to every day. The sessions impart a sensitivity that helps me tailor my lessons and interactions in a way that is most meaningful to the children in the community.
Students at Wednesday Bible club
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14.
May we all have the open heart of a child and use our perspective as adults to serve BCM’s children.
~Mary Jo Gensemer