“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
His love endures forever.”
Editor’s Note: In December 2016, WOW had the privilege of sharing Purses from the Heart with the members of The Chapel Urban Outreach’s Moms Club. WOW is so grateful to read responses like this one from one of the recipients: "I want to thank you for the amazing purse I got to pick out. Whoever chose to give women purses to help with faith is awesome. As I carry it around, I am reminded just how amazing our God is. Your organization is inspirational! I want to be more like you all, more like the Proverbs 31 woman that I learned about. Who made the journal cover? It is sooo cute. I just want to thank you again so much. Have a very Merry Christmas." Responses like this are exactly the reason that WOW initiates gifts like these. Please read on to see the many reasons why WOW supports ministries like Moms Club.
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A visit with Lisa Marshall quickly reveals that The Chapel’s Moms Club is just one facet of a multi-dimensional community outreach. Equally as visible, however, is a key ingredient that binds them all together: enduring love.
“I am in this ministry for the long haul,” Lisa says. “God may call me to something or someplace else one day. As long as I am here, though, I will be developing long-lasting relationships with the people He brings across my path.”
Enduring love is not only Lisa’s personal goal, but also her desire for every individual who serves in Moms Club. Just as Jesus walked with his disciples for three years, and promised to be “with them always, even to the end of the age,” Moms Club is an opportunity for women to build lasting relationships with one another and to share God’s truth in love – even when it is messy.
Moms Club is an off-shoot of The Chapel’s outreach to the students and families of Leggett Elementary School. The Chapel began to serve Leggett several years ago, after investigating how to best assist the church’s neighbors. Chapel staff met with Akron residents and discovered that their greatest concern was their schools. Parents were frustrated by poor relations between the schools and families, and they feared their school environments were hindering their kids’ educations.
The Chapel responded to the community’s concerns by hiring Lisa as the urban ministries director. Following a short season serving a different school, Lisa reconnected with the principal of Leggett Elementary, where she had worked earlier with a different ministry. Unfortunately, that principal was transferred to Buchtel High School just before school started, and Lisa wondered about the prospects of a Chapel-Leggett partnership. God was in control, however, and Lisa quickly formed a bond with the new principal, Mrs. Vincente.
“Mrs. Vincente loved the idea of community partnerships,” Lisa says. “We hit it off immediately, and The Chapel began to provide tutoring after school.”
Soon, Lisa and her corps of Chapel volunteers added to their tutoring services by hosting holiday parties for the school, since there was no PTA. Mrs. Vincente also asked The Chapel to host a Moms Club to encourage parental involvement in the school.
“Mrs. Vincente wondered how to best engage moms,” Lisa says, “So we asked moms what interested them. We started out with workshops on couponing, cooking and even crocheting, which was a big hit.”
Each meeting began with about 30 minutes of food and fellowship, followed by another half-hour of instruction. Lisa and her team specifically chose to hold off on Bible studies at first, focusing instead on building relationships with the moms. The Club originally met at Leggett School, but the meetings were hampered by the noise of adjacent classes and a lack of childcare for the moms’ youngest children.
“Once we moved the Moms Club to The Chapel, our meetings became easier,” Lisa says. “We didn’t have the same distractions to worry about, and the church location actually opened moms up to attending Sunday services at The Chapel.”
Moms’ Club began about seven years ago, and over the years – as relationships have been built – the club has developed into a core group of nine moms and several Chapel volunteers who learn about God and His word together. Last year, Lisa and her team conducted a study on the Proverbs 31 woman, and Lisa instituted homework for the first time. She secured a donation of vintage aprons to give to each of the Moms Club women, and the women were able to earn one of three “jewels” each week to sew onto their aprons.
“For level one, we asked the moms to write out a Scripture verse that we had discussed that week,” Lisa says. “To earn level two, the women had to look up and record other Scriptures that went along with the teaching. Level three required the moms to do an actual Bible study online.”
The multi-level homework allowed every mom to participate no matter her ability or activity level. As each mom received her jewel, she stiched it onto her apron. The bedazzled cover-ups became teaching tools for the moms as they wore them at home and their children asked about the gems. The Proverbs 31 study became a means not only for Moms Club members to grow in their faith, but also for them to sew God’s truth into their children’s lives.
Lisa would love for Moms Club to grow to include not only more moms from Leggett, but also mothers from the other schools The Chapel supports. Besides Leggett, The Chapel’s urban ministry team provides services to Glover and McEbright elementary schools, as well. Growing the ministry depends on two very necessary components – strong relationships with school administrators, and volunteers who embrace the qualities needed for this unique outreach.
Lisa cautions her Moms’ Club volunteers that the faith journeys of these women can follow slow, circuitous paths – trails marked by the messiness we all encounter when truth and grace collide.
“We Christians can sometimes be quick to forget,” Lisa concedes. “We can be so grateful for the patience and enduring love that God provides us, but we expect quick turnarounds and miraculous behaviors from our seeking or newly believing friends.”
Lisa explains that the backgrounds and current circumstances of Moms Club members can be daunting obstacles that aren’t easy to navigate. Faith in and reflections of Christ’s enduring love pick ax those barriers away one interaction at a time. Chapel Urban Outreach volunteers must be willing to greet individuals with the love of Christ right where they are and must hold loosely to timetables and expectations as they journey alongside new friends.
Are you interested in serving The Chapel’s Moms Club and Urban Outreach ministries? They can use help in several ways:
- Volunteers – people who want to step out of their comfort zones and make a real difference in their local community.
- Prayer Warriors – people who are willing to be texted on the spot to pray for specific, timely needs.
- Talent – individuals who own a craft business, are entrepreneurs or who have a financial counseling background. These individuals would give instructive talks on their areas of expertise.
To learn more about The Chapel’s Urban Outreach Ministries, visit http://thechapel.life/outreach, and click on the Local Outreach tab, or call 330.315.5511.