Many of the children who come to tutoring classes held at União Baptist Church in Juazeiro do Norte, Brazil, start out unable to read. But 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. Some children sniff glue before they come to class. Sometimes the Haworths or their Brazilian church members must take 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 that trains children to go downtown and steal.
Hope in a hopeless community
By teaching basic 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 graduates are attending college—previously a distant dream for most neighborhood kids. Another boy wants to be a music teacher.
The input into these kids’ lives has not only strengthened their confidence, but it has led a number 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 church, the parents were saved. At the church’s annual Good Friday event each year, children from the Enrichment Program play their song flutes (recorders) and recite verses in front of church members and many visiting parents. Afterward, the audience watches a film on Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Several adults and children have 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. They broadcasted 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 volunteers. The program has not only built up and matured the children, but it has strengthened the church and given them a stronger burden for the mission field outside their walls.