In every tutoring class held at União Baptist Church in Juazeiro do Norte, Brazil, most of the children start out unable to read. That problem pales compared with others seen by Darrel and Jean Haworth in the church’s poor, violence-prone neighborhood.
The Haworths started the church’s Enrichment Program in March 2015 to help grade-school children find Christ instead of finding the trouble that easily draws them in. Many children come from broken homes, and they may not have enough to eat. On one occasion, some of the children sniffed glue before they came to class. Brazilian staff members have also taken away knives from the children. The desperate parents of one child put iron bars on their home’s door to lock in their son after he became involved with a family of thieves.
Hope for a hopeless community
By teaching reading, arithmetic, music, and Bible, the Enrichment Program has introduced hope to a hopeless community. During the school year, the Haworths invite parents to church events that display their children’s progress. Their sons’ and daughters’ talents blossom like flowers in a desert when the children receive love, attention, and the truth of God’s Word. Four students from an earlier program that offered music and Bible are now attending college, studying music education, physics, architecture, and computer science—previously a distant dream for most neighborhood kids. Another boy wants to be a professor. Six current students have received scholarships to a private Christian School.
The input into these kids’ lives has not only strengthened their confidence, but it has led some of them and their parents to receive Jesus as their Savior. The family whose son turned to thievery accepted Darrel’s invitation to bring him to the program. While attending one of the church’s Bible studies, the parents were saved. At the church’s annual Good Friday event this year, children from the Enrichment Program played their song flutes (recorders) and recited verses in front of church members and many visiting parents. Afterward, the audience watched a film on Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Several adults and children prayed to accept Christ as their Savior.
A team effort that builds the church
The parents are impressed by their children’s advancements. The Enrichment Program’s success also caught the attention of a Juazeiro do Norte TV station. In May they broadcast an extended news segment about it. The Enrichment Program is fully a team effort to bring the gospel to this community. Donors and sponsors support it, and church members serve as directors, teachers, and helpers. The program has not only built up and matured the children, but it has strengthened the church and has given them a stronger burden for the mission field outside their walls.
How to pray
- The program’s success has brought opposition. Another church in town, which does not preach the gospel, has started its own enrichment program.
- Parents have refused to let their adolescent children be baptized after they have made decisions for Christ.
- Many children are allowed to stay up late, sleep late, and not go to school. Because of this, attendance for morning classes runs far less than in the afternoon.