By Carl Stagner
When Jaden was just four years old, he was diagnosed with a mild form of autism spectrum disorder. Entering first grade, his teacher noticed the difficulty Jaden had understanding and following instructions. Though he has access to a resource teacher at school who sees him a few times a week, Jaden hasn’t always received the additional attention he needed. That was, however, until a tutoring ministry of Metropolitan Church of God in Detroit, Michigan, stepped in. CHAMPS, a new initiative made possible by funds from the Church of God Change the World grant, has given Jaden and other young students the educational and spiritual boost they need to succeed.
Jaden loves going to CHAMPS. He’s never missed a day. Over Christmas break, he constantly reminded his mother that on January 9 he’d have to go back to tutoring. “I appreciate the CHAMPS program giving him the extra attention that he needs in reading comprehension and math,” his mother Lorinda explains. “It is difficult to find ways to make him understand, but it’s evident in his report card that CHAMPS has made a huge impact in his learning. He still needs improvement in math, but I’m confident that by the next report card, he’ll have that area improved, as well!”
Jaden is not alone in his academic success. Every Saturday when Metropolitan Church of God welcomes students from the community into their facility, an average of fifteen students show up to learn. Though it was a long and challenging road to get to this point, CHAMPS is proving to be worth every effort. Wilhelmina Hall spearheaded the work, and a few months into this new ministry outreach, she’s rejoicing in the visible fruit of their labor. She’s also rejoicing in the unexpected impact on the church.
“We spent a lot of time recruiting,” she reflects. “That was more difficult than we expected. I have worked with charter schools for about twenty years, and recruitment was especially difficult. But, as I’ve thought about it, the recruitment did something very special for the church. We passed out more than five hundred flyers at the schools and around the church. We put up yard signs. We put up a giant sign on the side of the building. Not only has the impact been seen in the students, but the community is now more aware of our presence than ever before.”
Each session begins with fifteen minutes of character development. Each month, a value such as responsibility is taught and exemplified for the students. Through the love and care that Wilhelmina and the tutors provide, students begin to recognize the Jesus in each heart. The approach is holistic and, as the past few months have shown, successful, too.
Meticulous preparation led up to the launch of CHAMPS. Besides the far-reaching promotional efforts, certified teachers were brought on board, curriculum was developed, and students were tested. Future testing is expected to show continued improvement among students. Ministries and individuals from the church rallied together to provide a variety of tools and supplies. Now, for two hours and fifteen minutes each Saturday, CHAMPS connects academics and spiritual education for an engaging and exciting intersection of church and culture in a safe and welcoming environment.
“I know people tend to hear about all the bad news that’s happening in Detroit,” Wilhelmina reflects. “So we need this. Our community and our church need this. And other cities need this, too. My prayer, beyond the need for additional funding, is that over the next two years the Lord will open doors for other churches in our movement to start a CHAMPS tutoring ministry in their communities.”
Remember Jaden? He’s now on the honor roll. By God’s grace, CHAMPS expects to produce even more Jadens!
Were you blessed by reading this story? Support the ongoing work of Church of God Ministries with your gift to the World Ministry Fund at http://www.jesusisthesubject.org/world-ministry-fund/.