Our top priority after moving to Morristown was to get established in the public school system to bring the gospel to the students and staff. For a year and a half, we struggled making any headway. Then, out of the blue, God literally dropped Child Evangelism Fellowship’s Tennessee Director, Jeff Nichols, right into our laps. After hearing Jeff out, I immediately went to work. We were able to gain audiences with two school principals, but we still needed the endorsement of the county’s school director. This was thought to take weeks, but God opened another door where we were able to meet with him just a few moments after we had finished speaking with the principals. The Director of Schools told us it would likely be two weeks before a decision would be made, but God moved again as our approval was granted in only two days.
After training with CEF, we began our first Good News Club at Lincoln Heights Elementary School because of their great need as an inner-city school with high rates of poverty and ethnic diversity. It has not been easy, but each week God blesses us with 23-25 kids with whom we share the hope of Christ and the message of salvation in exciting and fun ways.
Through our church’s partnership with CEF, we have seen God do amazing things. He has focused our prayers. To successfully reach these kids, the school staff, and their families, we must commit to fervent prayer. God has also used this ministry to move people out of their comfort zones and into active discipleship. The funding and the volunteers came from a men’s spiritual leadership group meeting at my home each Thursday evening. Now, I drive our church’s van weekly into the low income housing authority projects where these children live, picking up nearly a dozen kids every Wednesday for youth group at our church.
Good News Club has awakened us to make preparations for the harvest. The easy part was going into the school with a Bible lesson, some fun songs, a neat story about a missionary, and prayer with the students. It was easy because we could feel good about what we were doing, and we could drive away back to the old familiar places like home and church. But God demanded more. We were to love these kids so much that we would go into the highways and hedges to compel them to Jesus.
Not accustomed to attending church, many of the kids don’t know how to behave. Where will we find more teachers, how can we increase the budget to minister to these kids, and what do we do when we soon run out of seats to transport them? These are all wonderful problems to face, but again, they reveal we need to be on the top of our game. God has granted us an open door and placed us here for such a time as this. He expects we will walk through without retreating from the challenges we are facing.
Rev. Sonny Thomas
Peace Free Will Baptist Church, Morristown, TN