Tag Archives: No Child Left Behind

Church Based After School Ministry: Do you do RELATIONAL MINISTRY?

Each new school year provides the opportunity to assess how we did last year and plan how we can do it better this year.



How did you do last year in developing lasting relationships with each individual child that came through your After School Ministry? How could you do better this year?


Below are just a few of the challenges we talk through relating to RELATIONAL MINISTRY in KidTrek After School Ministry Training.

  • The individual who yearns to have a relational ministry must be bilingual; i.e. he needs to have the ability to communicate in the localism of those with whom he desires to convey God’s truth. He must be willing to take the time and spend the energy to get to know those to whom God has sent him to minister.
  • The relational minister will view himself more as a discipler of men than a teacher of knowledge. As a discipler, he will be willing to set aside his agenda when a need is presented.  He is going to listen to what is said, but he will also be reading between the lines.  When Bobby complains day-after-day of being tired, the relational minister is going to ask questions to find out why Bobby is tired.
  • The discipler is going to be sensitive to the environment into which he brings the kids. Is it conducive to building relationships?  Is there a climate of warmth?  Does the kid feel understood?   Does he know you will go the extra mile to reach him?  Is there more focus on the kid than there is on the material being taught?  Is everything well thought out and prepared?CIMG7396
  • There is a willingness to be stretched emotionally. He recognizes the need to grow in patience, compassion, and forgiveness.  The discipler sees each problem that arises as an opportunity for development, his and the kid’s.
  • Because he is called by the Lord, he depends on the Holy Spirit for his strength and believes God will redeem the time so he can accomplish the task that the Lord has set before him. Therefore, the discipler does not view his ministry as being from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., four days a week within the walls of the church.  He recognizes the need to visit the kids in the home, send postcards, make phone calls, etc.
  • The discipler puts the welfare of the kids above his own pride, recognizing that at times he may need to call on the insight of others to meet a particular need of the kid.
  • The discipler continually reminds himself to not fall into the trap of ministering from motivation of making himself feel/look good. It has to be all about the kids’ real needs not the discipler’s wants or needs.
  • The discipler is a friend. As he wishes the kid to trust him, he will trust the kid.  He will pray for the kid and he will ask the kid to pray for him, giving the kid specific prayer requests.
  • The individual called to a relational ministry is a prayer warrior. He acknowledges that apart from Jesus he can do nothing.  However, he believes that with Jesus all things are possible.  He daily brings the kids to the throne of his heavenly Father.

  • The relational kid’s worker does not buy into the victimization of the kids. He knows that with Christ everyone can be a victor.  He is not willing for the kid to dwell in the past but encourages the kid to look forward to what Jesus has for him.
  • The relational discipler has the joy of bonding with kids and watching as the Lord transforms them.


KidTrek – After School Ministry: Are You Providing Relational Ministry?


Imagine that someone came running in yelling,

“Jesus is coming, Jesus is coming!  He’s going to be over at the park

on ______________________.”

Some of you would rush out because you would really want to see Jesus.  Wow!  What an exciting afternoon.

Others of you know this is going to be a juicy afternoon.  The Pharisees are going to be there!  Will they be able to trap Jesus this time?

Can you picture Jesus sitting there on a rock?  The crowd is seated down all around him and there is a sense of excitement.

How will Jesus answer the difficult questions that the Pharisees are putting to him?

 The air is filled with tension!

Jesus is calm.  He knows that He has the answers and He gives them slowly and deliberately.  You marvel at how He never falters.  The Pharisees are never able to stump Him.

A baby in his mother’s arms begins to whimper.  He has been sick for more than a week.  She has taken him to all the doctors.  She has done everything that everyone has suggested, but still the baby has become more ill.  She looks down at the pain-filled face of her precious infant thinking,

 “Oh, if only I could have Jesus lay His hands on my baby.”

The mother looks at the crowd that is between her and Jesus.  A shiver runs down her spine; she knows what she has to do, but she is afraid.  What will people think?  What will the Pharisees say when she interrupts?

The baby whimpers again.  The mother knows she must get her baby to Jesus.

She stands and begins to move, cautiously at first.

Then a father on the other side of the crowd sees her and, looking at his sixth grade son thinks, “Oh, if I can just get my son to Jesus, perhaps He’ll pray for him; then I know he

               will be less rebellious.

Suddenly others see and join them, pushing forward with their children, wanting so badly to bring their children to Jesus.

 BUT – there is a barrier!  How do they get past those 12 men?

“Don’t bother Jesus with the children.  Can’t you see He is in an important debate right now?  Take the children away,” one of the men shouts.

“Move back!  Move back!  You are disrupting things!  People can’t hear with your crying baby. Take it to the back where it won’t be disruptive!”

Can you hear the rebukes of the disciples as they push the people back?

But listen to Jesus’ words:

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Look what happens next!  It says so much about the importance of our ministry to the children.

Jesus took the children in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them.

Jesus didn’t minister from a distance.  He did not hold his hand out and bless the mass of children from afar.

No, He took the children in His arms.  He touched them!  He held them!

Can you see the mother as she lays her precious infant in Jesus’ arms?  Jesus looks gently down at him and smiles.  He softly touches the baby’s forehead.  What sweet words of blessing is Jesus praying over the child?

Watch for a few moments as Jesus takes one child after another and blesses them.

As you begin a new school year how are you going  to bless the children? What does relational ministry mean to you?

Contact me at wanda@kidtrek if you need some help to think this through. How much of a difference do you want to make in the lives of the children you serve in the coming year?

America’s Invisible Children Left Behind

By Wanda Parker

What does the term Invisible Children mean to you?

What does No child left behind mean to you?

As someone who has worked with children and their families for more than forty years and as a Christian these terms became very real to me when I was in my early twenties.

I was living and working in a migrant labor camp in Texas – you can see pictures of myself and husband (who I met while serving there) by clicking here  We were VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) Volunteers, part of President Johnson’s war on poverty.  I was just out of college and had such huge dreams of making a difference. 

Never will I forget the day that Lupe knocked on our door and asked if I would like to accompany her to court.  She was going to court with two boys, both 12 year olds. They had put bricks on the railroad track and derailed a train. Sure I thought, an afternoon to get out of the heat of the Texas sun and sit idly in the back of an air conditioned courtroom.  As we entered the court I sat in the last row while Lupe went to the front to be with the boys.

The judge came in and asked the two boys to stand in front of him.  Jessie wore a filthy, worn baseball cap. Mario stood with his head bowed and never looked at the judge. 

“Take that cap off!” the judge demanded in a gruff voice.

Mario and Jessie didn’t move.

“I told you to take that cap off!  Take it off now!.” the judge said more harshly.

Again, neither boy moved.

Shouting this time, “Did you hear me?  I told you to take that cap off!  Do so now!”

Again, neither boy moved.

“You, you sitting out there,” the judge shouted pointing at me.  “You’ve come into our small community thinking that you know everything.  You think that you can tell us how to run our community.  Well we’ll see.  We’ll see if you have all the answers or not!  I’m putting these two boys into your custody!.

He hit the bench with his gavel.  I sat there not able to move.  What had happened?  This was suppose to be an easy afternoon, a little time out of the heat.  Now at 21 I had custody of two twelve year olds.  What do you do with two boys who are about to become teenagers? Were they to live with us? 

As we drove back to the Labor Camp Lupe and I talked about the options available to me.  We decided it would be best for the boys to spend nights with their parents and spend days with us.  Joe and Ellen, my two roommates and fellow Vista Volunteers, had a good laugh as I explained what had happened –  that is until they realized how this impacted them too.

One of the first things we learned was that Jessie wouldn’t remove his cap because he had a scalp disease and his hair was all patchy.  Joe took him to town to pick out a new, clean cap.  A daily routine was making sure his head and cap were clean. 

We checked with the school to see how they were doing.  Because they were the children of migrant laborers and moved a lot the school was basically warehousing them.  We requested they be tested.  It took a little presuring but eventually the tests were administered.  Jessie had an IQ of 69, Mario’s was 48.

Jessie and Mario had no idea what the consequences would be when they placed those bricks on the railroad track.  They were merely having fun trying to balance the bricks.

For the next few months I worked hard with the school and their parents figuering out what would be best for them.  In the end we were able to get them enrolled in a residential school for mentally challenged children. 

I remember the day I took them to the school.  They were excited and I knew that they were going to receive training that would give them skills to function as adults on their own. 

As I drove out of the school grounds I had a sense of accomplishment, a sense I had done something good. 

Jessie and Mario were American invisible children – there was no one in their lives who cared enough or had the sophistication to get them the help they needed.  Little did the judge realize what a blessing it was for those boys when he placed them in my custody.

But as the years have passed I have often felt that those boys may have been left behind. 

Not once did I speak to them about Jesus. 

What did I truly give them if I gave them the whole world but they lose their souls?  Mark 8:36

That experience definitely has had a profound impact on the vision of KidTrek. Click here to go to KidTrek website.


Developing a partnership with local churches, KidTrek establishes youth programs to serve the community.

Through modeling, training, and coaching KidTrek equips adults to build intentional, long-term relationships with families in crisis.

Our goal is to see at-risk kids become Christ-changed, hope-filled, productive adults..

“No Child Left Behind” Lacks Critical Thinking

By Wanda Parker

There are few adults in America who wouldn’t agree the education of our children is in dire straits.

One of the few times the Republicans and Democrats worked together was to set up “No Child Left Behind.”  And yet!!!!  Children are still being left behind.

Why?              I believe it is because we are always looking for easy answers.  

The government has set teachers up for failure.  Teachers are forced to teach so kids will pass tests – not so they will learn.  I know it would appear that if a kid has passed a test that s/he has learned.  But true learning is much more than input in-input out. 

After school programs who receive government funding must sustain a certain level of attendance that has nothing to do with what is actually happening with the kids.  Tutors are so driven by the numbers game they forget their own education on how children learn. 

True learning involves understanding and the ability to think critically – something politicians seem to have difficulty doing.  When will people truly care about the children and provide them the type of education they need? 


Where Is The Church, Christ’s Body?

By Wanda Parker

I visited a different KidTrek Associate Center yesterday.

I’m still fighting back the tears from yesterday.  My heart is so heavy.  I want so bad to communicate to you the great need that is just within miles of where you live.  In Matthew 18 Jesus warns us about how we will be judged if we don’t care for the children.  Where is the Church?  Why isn’t the church more proactive?

I sat eating snack with a group of 5th and 6th graders when the Secondary Nurturer asked, “How was your Thanksgiving?”

“Horrible!” was the simple reply of one child.

“Horrible?  Why was it so horrible?”

“My aunt got in a big fight with another woman over a man.  They were hitting and pulling hair.  It was horrible.  I just wanted to get out of there.”

You had to hear her voice to get the total impact of this child’s pain.

A macho 6th grade boy dressed in his low riding pants commented, “Roy, I’m going to visit my dad in Georgia. I wish I could live with my dad, but then if I lived with my dad I couldn’t come to the center. I don’t want to leave the center.”

I had to fight back the tears.  I felt the pain of these kids. 

Then there was another kid who sat across from me who never spoke – a 6th grader also.  My heart kept being tugged towards him.  I learned that the school is at the point of just passing him forward because they don’t know what else to do with him.  His parents don’t have the sophistication to know how to get him more help.  He has some type of brain damage but no one knows what it is nor how to help him.  The Secondary Nurturer is doing research and is fighting for him in the school district and beyond.  (The tears are coming as I write – what if this was my child?  What if this was your child?  You’d probably have the sophistication to fight for him, the education to know places to go, a support system to fight for him.)

These kids are the lucky ones – they have a Secondary Nurturer who is walking through life with them.  Someone to fight for them.  But what about all the kids who have NO ONE!

Are you a follower of Jesus Christ?  What are you doing about the Invisible Children of America?

I truly believe the Lord is going to ask you one day what you did.

These kids don’t need “drive-by evangelism.”  They don’t need a drop-in after school center.  They don’t need only a tutoring center.  They don’t need a once a week Bible Club.

This is what they need:

  • Long term quality relationship with a godly adult.
  • An adult with the education and sophistication to fight for their real needs (as opposed to felt needs).
  • An adult willing to get emotionally involved in their lives (Secondary Nurturers shed many a tear in the fight for these kids.)
  • An adult committed to becoming a friend of the kids parents/primary nurturers.
  • An adult committed to building a relationship with every Social Service Professional involved in the family’s life.
  • An adult willing to work alongside of the child’s school teacher to make sure s/he is receiving the best education possible and is following through on all assignements – just like you would do for your own child.
  • An adult willing to spend so much time in prayer for the child that s/he is giving up things s/he wants to do for her/himself because s/he is pouring into the life of the child.
  • An adult who is fully committed to Jesus Christ.

Several years ago I was speaking at a conference of Inner City Workers in Philadelphia when a huge burden came over me.  I awoke in the middle of the night and I couldn’t get back to sleep.  I got up and took out my Bible and began reading, crying and calling out to God.  I wrote the following in my Bible that night, “Raise up an army of servants to work with the children in the cities.”

That was impossible!  Or is it?  If you are a follower of Jesus Christ also, do we not serve the God of the impossible?

Now our Heavenly Father has given KidTrek the vision of putting missionaries into churches across America.  You may not be able to be a missionary but you can:

  • pray that the Lord will raise up the missionaries and provide for their support,
  • give to support the missionaries,
  • volunteer a couple of hours a week,
  • spread the word – tell friends, family, everyone of the potential if we reach the children.

Where is the church? Together, you and I can make a difference in the lives of thousands of children across America. Will you join KidTrek in this “impossible” task?

Yes, for those of you who know me best, I’m still fighting the tears and emotions as the passion to reach the children overwhelms me.  I know it is a passion the Holy Spirit has placed within me.  May the Lord bless you as you ponder what the Lord’s will is for you to do in this battle to reach the Invisible Children of America.  No Child should be Left Behind because we were too caught up with the business of our own lives.

Fighting for the “Invisible Children of America” a couple of stories

by Wanda Parker

All names are changed in following stories.

Jammal was really struggling in school – in fact he was failing. 

Robert, Jammal’s “Secondary Nurturer” was to meet Jammal’s mom at the school to meet with Jammal’s teacher, the principal, and school counselor.  The discussion was to be in regard to Jammal’s being admitted into a special class for children with severe learning disabilities.  The state would fund it but Primary Nurturers had to request it. 

Robert was running a little late because of complications at his second job (he has to work a second job to provide for his family) kept him longer than usual.  He called the school to let them know he was on his way.  The principal came on the line and told him he might as well not come because Jammal’s mom had not shown up.  A Secondary Nurturer is trained, and soon experiences once on the field, that s/he must fight for the kids part of which is often parenting the parents.

Robert drove to the apartment where Jammal, his mom and siblings live.  There was no answer at the door but as Robert was getting back into his car Jammal’s mom drove up. 

“Where have you been?  We are suppose to be at the school.”

“Oh something else came up so I just figurered we could reschedule.”  mom replied.

“No! This is too important.  Jammal deserves to be in this program. We are going to the school right now. Get in the car.” Robert challenged.

When they got to the school the principal said it would take a couple of hours to get everyone back together to meet.  Robert told him that was fine – they would wait! Robert and Jammal’s mom sat down in the reception room to wait.

Fighting for the “Invisible Children of America” often means parenting the parents.  It means walking through life not just with a child but with an entire family.  It means getting to know the teachers, principal, counselors so they trust you.  It means going to school events, volunteering at school, working with not against the school.


The call came late in the afternoon, “Myra we are going to be taking the Jones children into protective custody tomorrow morning at the school.  Would you like to be there so it is a little less traumatizing for them?  You can ride with them to the foster home.”  The call had come from a social worker whom Myra had spent time getting to know.

A Secondary Nurturer becomes the constant in a child’s life.  To do that they work on building a relationship with all the social service professionals in a kid’s life. It is about team work.  This takes a lot of time and a lot of effort.  It takes perseverance.

It is the vision of KidTrek that by getting “Missionaries,” also known as Secondary Nurturers, into churches fewer children will have to go into the foster care system. By building relationships with the Primary Nurturers and walking with them through life as they parent a lot of subtle parental training just happens.  Because the Secondary Nurturer is a trusted friend, not an authority figure, the Primary Nurturer listens. 

There are many different levels at which you can Join the Walk to fight for the “Invisible Children of America.”  Will you join us? 


by Wanda Parker

Did you have the opportunity to read Amos over the past couple of days? I reread it and wow! What a challenge.

Amos 5:24 “But let justice roll down like waters.

What is justice for a child?

I believe we are told what justice is for a child in Deuteronomy 6:7 – as I read this I see each child with an adult who is walking through life with him/her. An adult available to nurture him/her spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, socially.

As mentioned in the previous post – I believe that the Body of Christ is given the responsibility to do this. We CAN do this IF WE ARE WILLING!

Amos warned the people that God didn’t want to hear their praises or listen to their music because they weren’t following Him. A sign of their lack of “seeking Him” was their lack of care for those with needs in their society. America has thousands and thousands of children who are growing up with little or no nurturing. What greater need, what greater poverty is there? Where is the Body of Christ?

Will the church “stand in the gap” for them? If you are part of Christ’s Body are you willing to “stand in the gap” for the “Invisible Children of America?”

If you are at a loss of how to “stand in the gap” KidTrek has some ideas. You can become a Missionary/Secondary Nurturer and acutally serve at-risk kids and their families full time; you can be a Giving Warrior supporting the missionaries on the front lines; you can be a Prayer Warrior holding up to the Lord the needs of the missionaries, the kids and their families. You can also pass the word and get others to Join The Walk meeting the needs of the “Invisible Children of America.”

I have never met a child that deserved to be left behind – but thousands in America are.