2020... What an interesting year. I think that most people have been waiting for 2020 to end and for 2021 to arrive and hoping it would be a much different year. I have felt that way as well but as I have thought about all God had done in 2020, I have changed my mind. God moved at Kids International Ministries in 2020 in such amazing ways that it has literally transformed the ministry.
Here is how we have changed...
Meals and Values
At the beginning of 2020 we cooked around 5,000 meals per week and partnered with 30 local pastors to use that food to reach their communities for Christ. Then COVID struck and the government locked down communities. For poor communities, no work means no food for the family. Very quickly we started to expand our feeding program. At the peak of lockdown, we were serving 250,000 meals per week through around 80-100 partner pastors. After lockdown we scaled back to 60,000 meals per week and have over 500 pastors that are part of the program. During lockdown we were focused on simply cooking and distributing food, but after lockdown we started to focus on the 'values' part of 'Meals and Values'.
We recently surveyed the pastors who have been part of the Meals and Values program and found out that 63 new Churches have been planted in 2020 due to the feeding program. AMAZING!
Youth Lab started at a most unlikely time - March 2020 during COVID lockdown. Youth Lab is Kids International Ministries outreach to youth in our community. It started with 10 camps we held during COVID. The youth stayed at the YMC and helped with food prep for Meals and Values but at night attended sessions. Each camp had around 40 youth attend. Over 120 youth accepted Christ during the camps and helped us form a solid youth leadership team.
After lockdown lifted we started having 'YL Praise Party'. This is a youth meeting with dynamic worship and a message. Praise party grew quickly and soon we were out of space at the Ministry Center and had to split into 2 separate meetings.
The first Praise Party of 2021 we were able to move into YL Center (see below) and we had over 300 youth attend and over 50 youth accepted Christ (see video). This has left us scrambling trying to figure out how follow up with so many youth. This year, one of our focuses will be 'Connect Groups' - small discipleship groups.
As Youth Lab started in the beginning of 2020, we decided we needed to modify the plan for the school to convert some rooms into a large space where we could have 500-600 youth meet. This room was ready to use in Jan 2020. In the first week we had over 950 people use the center is 3 separate events - staff dedication of YL Center (150) , Praise Party (300) and a Pastors Summit (500).
In addition to events, YL Center will be used as a student center during the day. It will be open to students from our community and students from other High Schools and Universities around us. We will provide free internet and printers for students to use. Our primary objective is to build relationship with these students.
Church Connect was an unexpected result of the Meals and Values program. The ministry is now connected with over 600+ pastors of small local churches from around Manila. During lockdown the pastors would ask if they could come to the ministry center and just sit and talk over coffee. This started a ministry we call Kape (Tagalog for Coffee). Almost every week we have 20 to 5o pastors who come to our ministry center. In addition, after COVID, we really felt that these pastors and their wives really needed a break so we started a 3 day retreat at our ministry center that we offered to pastors and their wives for free. We have had 4 of these 'R&R&R' retreats (Rest, Relaxation and Refresh) each having from 50 to 100 attend.
Another exciting development is the Pastors Summit. Pastors asked if we could host a day long event with some encouraging messages for pastors. We held our first one Jan 2021 and over 500 pastors attended the 2021 Connect Summit. Wow!
In the middle of 2020 we had a couple join us as missionaries who were interested in starting a family ministry to reach out to families of kids in our school and moms from the clinic. We really believe that one of the best ways to impact the kids involved in our ministry is to impact their families. We have started monthly meetings with moms and dads and cover a variety of topics. Currently we have a very hard time getting very many dads come to the meetings so in 2021 we will be starting a meeting just to focus on the dads.
Another unexpected result of lockdown is that pregnancy clinic is now seeing more than 3 times the number of moms and delivering many, many more babies. During COVID, many moms could not go to a hospital or clinic and so they started coming to Hope Alive. In addition, lockdown has caused a 'baby boom' in the community! We are now around 9 months since the start of lockdown and we are seeing a huge spike in the number of births, sometimes delivering 3 or 4 babies in a day.
And everything else...
And this doesn't include any of the things we already do. We still have a children's home, an independent living program and a Christian school to run.
Wow! 2020 was an amazing year. I believe that God has really set us up for dramatic impact in 2021!