WASHINGTON (BP)–They call themselves the D.C. Kids On Mission.
The children’s church from Iglesia Bautista de Washington stood at the front of the sanctuary. As they began singing, seven of them lifted large, multi-colored pieces of cardboard above their heads. Each piece bore the name of a different continent.
After the presentation, seven of the children volunteered to take one of the cards home and pray for the people living there.
Last year these children, all under age 12, set a goal of $1,000 to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions.
On New Year’s Eve, the adults in the church still had not met their goal of $4,000. During the service the children announced that they had raised $340 more than their goal. It was time for the adults to dig deeper, and by the end of the service they had given $2,000 past their goal.
The children’s enthusiasm for missions has helped focus the adults’ attention on being actively involved in giving, going and praying. Once a year the children lead during a Sunday morning service. This year the church officially kicked off the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering during the last Sunday of October, and the children led.
Acting on faith, the children more than doubled their goal for this year’s Christmas offering — $2,010.
“They set the number,” Baldwin Arcé, the children’s minister, said. “I gave them a lesson [on missions] and they chose the amount [to give]. I asked them [to tell me] what [amount] God put on their heart.”
During Sunday School, Arcé stood in the corner as one by one the children told him what they thought their goal should be.
“You guys are brave. You have a lot of faith,” he told them.
Through selling T-shirts with the church’s logo to baking cookies, the children are optimistic that they will meet and maybe exceed their goal this year.
One grandmother, who has attended the church for only a short time, gave the children key chains handcrafted in El Salvador — where most of the members or their families are from — to help raise money for the offering.
“Last year, I found an old box full of piggy banks and gave those to the kids. They filled those up a multitude of times,” Arcé said. “We sold baked goods and coffee. One of the kids’ mothers made a Spanish specialty called pupusas, which are tortillas with beans, meat and cheese.”
The church also received encouragement from the International Mission Board. Jason Carlisle, a Hispanic mobilization strategist for the IMB, came to the church to speak with the children.
“The kids were really excited when he came to speak to them,” Arcé said.
At this church, learning about missions isn’t a seasonal event. The pastor’s wife teaches a year-round missions class to students from 12 to 18 years old. Every Sunday the church has a missionary moment and prayer. The missions leader shares a letter from one of eight missionary couples the church has active contact with and then prays specifically for their ministries. And Arcé shows IMB videos like “Kids On Mission” to the children.
In October, the church visited the International Learning Center near Richmond, Va.
“The children got to see other kids [who] were really going to these places they just hear about,” Guillermo Mangieri, the church’s pastor, said. They were excited to meet “real live missionary kids” at ILC, he added.
“When we do our short missions trips locally, they are family trips. The kids are involved,” Mangieri said. “[We do mission] work in Pennsylvania and the kids help out.”
Mangieri came to Iglesia Bautista de Washington as pastor with big dreams and a heart for missions. Arcé credits him with putting the church back on track with their involvement in international and national mission work.
“The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering plays a big role because it’s one of the key offerings for missions,” Mangieri said.
The church also goes on mission trips around the United States and supports an orphanage in El Salvador with offerings. This fall, four members of the church went on their first international mission trip to North Africa to partner with Southern Baptist workers in their ministries.
As its actions show, this Hispanic church understands the importance of teaching the next generation to “go into all the world and make disciples.”