Hope for Kids, Inc. launched this past December with the vision of reaching underprivileged kids in the Greater Springfield Massachusetts area with acts of kindness, spiritual renewal, authentic relationships, and physical nourishment. As the founder of Hope for Kids, I began searching for ways to meet these children so we could begin ministering to them.
I made a call to Prison Fellowship, asking if there were any children of prisoners in our area that still needed Angel Tree sponsors to bring them Christmas gifts and the Gospel. Amazed that there were 18 families — approximately 35 children — in the area, I excitedly stated we would be responsible for them.
Hope for Kids, Inc. was able to visit nearly all of the Angel Tree families and children we were assigned, and we watched in awe as God brought in all the money and other resources necessary to bless these boys and girls, as well as their families with the Good News and great joy.
Our organization set up partnerships with stores, restaurants, and a rescue center to provide food and basic necessities for our Angel Tree families, in addition to the gifts from their incarcerated parents. We raised funds and wrapped gifts. Then we sent our delivery team out, equipped with wordless book bracelets to help share the Gospel with kids.
During our visits, nine children and two adults gave their hearts to Christ. And one of the deliveries opened the door to the ministry opportunity that Hope for Kids, Inc. was praying for.
God Paves the Way
Our team made a delivery to a family with six children. When we got to the home, we discovered that this single mom and her kids were living in a state-provided hotel room while awaiting suitable housing.
The Lord allowed our team to share the Gospel with this entire family. You could have heard a pin drop as we shared about the God of the Bible who loved them enough to sacrifice His one and only Son, Jesus, for them. Tears streamed down the mother’s face as we shared that she could have her sins erased, eternal life in heaven with God one day, and forgiveness of all her past sins. The entire family prayed to receive Christ on the spot and the atmosphere was electric in that hotel room!
As we made our way down the hallways toward the hotel lobby, I could not help but overhear the sounds and voices of many other children and their families in the other rooms. When I asked the hotel clerk what that was all about, I learned that the hotel was serving as a homeless shelter for approximately 100 families.
A thought came to me that our organization should do our part to bring these families hope. A weekly kids club called Club Hope is what came to mind. I spoke with the hotel manager, who welcomed the idea with open arms. She told me that they were short on ideas for these needy families and liked what we had in mind.
Two weeks later, we took a team of trained teenagers and adults back to the hotel to run two Bible clubs, complete with snacks, games, Bible lessons, and crafts. The turnout was very encouraging. Parents provided their names, their children’s names, and their contact information in hopes of having more activities for their kids to join. One mom of five young children asked if we would be able to pick them up to take them to church.
When my family arrived at the hotel on Sunday to pick the family up, we were told some of the kids were sick and they weren’t able to go to church. We went to the grocery store and picked up some items that we hoped would be helpful in an attempt to demonstrate the love of Jesus to the family in this hard time.
After making the delivery, we were leaving the hotel when I saw two of the moms that had been at Club Hope with their children. We struck up a conversation, and before long, the two moms and their eight children piled into my 15-passenger van and we headed to church. The kids had an incredibly fun time and the AWANA commander was there to meet them. He shared with the moms about the AWANA program.
From that moment on, they were hooked and the ministry exploded.
Now, every Sunday and Friday, two 15-passenger vans, plus a minivan or two, go to the hotel and pick up children who are so excited to go to church or AWANA. I also spoke with a youth center three miles from the hotel that holds a kids Bible program each Tuesday night. Now this youth center picks children up from the hotel to take them to the program. These kids have had plentiful opportunities to hear the Gopsel, and many have made decisions for Christ!
Two families have moved out of the hotel into different shelters in the area. They called Hope for Kids, Inc. right away to give us their new contact information and to ask if we could continue to pick their kids up for church.
In addition to Club Hope, Hope for Kids, Inc. has kept in touch with as many of the other Angel Tree families we served as are willing. At a Hope for Kids, Inc. Valentine’s banquet, three of the children we served this past Christmas came and spent time with people who genuinely displayed the love of Christ to them.
After Hope for Kids, Inc. met a physical need for one family, the mother called and asked for a ride to church for her and her son. She shared that her son’s father would soon be released from prison and she feared her son would follow in his dad’s footsteps. She said, “Church is my only hope for him.”
Hope for Kids, Inc. is grateful for the privilege to partner with Angel Tree to reach children with the only real hope for anyone: Jesus! Our hope is that God’s name will be greatly known among the children in the Greater Springfield area all year-round.
Matt Currier is founder and president of Hope for Kids, Inc., an organization dedicated to helping at-risk children find hope through spiritual renewal, physical nourishment, and authentic relationships.