Welcome to our quarterly newsletter, The Good News, featuring stories of how God has been working through Kids Around The World. Enjoy!
The Good News
So Far in 2023…
Million Meals Packed
Thousand Kids Being Discipled
Active Hope Zones
KATW’s 3rd quarter has been one of incredible activity and outcomes as God continues to show us great favor. From the beginning of July to the end of September we have been privileged to host 30 food packing events with over 11,500 volunteers joining to make an impact. September alone saw our largest meal packing totals on record! In all, we rallied with our partners to see over 4 million meals packed in support of children struggling with food insecurity.
Monumental Impact Made on 9/11 Day of Service
Especially noteworthy this quarter was our participation in the 9/11 National Day of Service. KATW, in partnership with www.911day.org, served alongside hundreds of major organizations and thousands of volunteers to turn the anniversary into a day of doing good. We proudly partnered in 7 of the 18 cities where events were hosted, packing a total of 2,048,228 of the 6.5 million meals packed nationwide, which will be used to fight hunger in local communities across the US! We had the privilege of working in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Houston, Los Angeles, Phoenix and St. Louis. With the dedication of our team and nearly 5000 volunteers, monumental impact was made to honor and remember the sacrifices made by so many on 9/11, while also offering hope and tangible encouragement towards the future of others.
Back to Pack at Rockford 1M
Our much anticipated Rockford 1M Meal Event on September 23rd and 24th was hosted in the hometown of our headquarters. We encouraged regional friends and partners to come “back to pack” again at our 2nd hosting of this event, which provided meals in support of malnourished children in Zambia, Ecuador and Dominican Republic. We are so grateful for the vast participation and service from various groups, schools, teams, clubs, church life groups, friends and families! Over 1,500 volunteers came together with servant hearts to help battle childhood hunger around the world. It truly was incredible (and fun!) to be part of seeing our own community rally to serve!
Making History With Our Partners
In August, we celebrated a remarkable milestone event alongside First United Methodist Church of Crystal Lake as they reached the incredible achievement of packing their one millionth meal with us. This steadfast and devoted group of believers, who have been consistent partners over the years, contributed by packing an additional 100,000 meals during this event, bringing their cumulative total to one million meals. The enduring support from these faithful friends continues to bring blessings to countless children.
Corporate Conference Attendees Serve
Our noteworthy and steadfast partner, Mannatech Inc., to whom we attribute our highly nutritious PhytoBlend vitamin packet, took an extraordinary initiative by organizing a food packing event during their corporate conference. More than 250 attendees joined forces to nourish children in our Hope Zones in Ecuador by assembling 91,368 meals, which included their exceptional Phytoblend vitamin supplement. Their commitment to promoting childhood wellness is truly inspiring!
Milestones in Ecuador
We are delighted to see our storehouses in Ecuador filled with 1 million partner-packed meals! These boxes represent approximately six months’ worth of food supply for the over 4,000 children who receive a daily meal through KATW in Ecuador. This achievement underscores the extraordinary lengths that God can take us in order to deliver hope and sustenance to even the most remote communities!
Partnering For A Movement
Thanks to an in-country build team and the “lovement” of our partner in ministry, Reload Love, 3 new playground builds occurred at girl’s orphanages in Nigeria this past quarter. Reload Love ministry, “helps heal the lives of little ones around the world who have suffered from the violence of terrorism.” We are grateful to join with their mission to convey God’s love by fighting back with tenderness toward children and thereby arm them with hope. We pray the 3 playgrounds that KATW supplied will beautifully build up the children in FAITH, HOPE and LOVE as a haven and bright spot in their young lives!
Open Trip to Ecuador
In July, KATW organized a short term trip (1 of our 30 trips this year!) open to anyone who wanted to join, to Bahia, Ecuador, with the purpose of constructing a playground for the children in the village of La Laguna. Our diverse team, spanning ages 13 to 70, brought a wide range of talents, ideas, and skills to the table – making it fun and memorable for everyone! Our volunteers engaged beautifully not just with one another but with the community as they forged meaningful connections with the children and their families there. Even in the face of a rainstorm and a muddy foundation the team’s spirit remained high as they focused on sharing the gift of play for all the onlooking children. We saw God work in hearts and make a profound impact as the team watched the combination of Food, Play and Story come together to bless La Laguna.
We encourage you to join us on a future global outreach trip! We promise you will be impacted as you make a difference in the lives of children. Check out opportunities to serve here: https://katw.managedmissions.com/OurTrips/5761
Reaping a Harvest
We harvested playground #1200 in Chicagoland this past quarter thanks to the generous donation and partnership of St. Charles Park District. Our staff and incredible volunteers joined together at the tearout on July 25th as we hit this milestone! We’re so thankful for how God makes playground provisions through numerous organizations that recognize the mutual benefit gained through partnering together!
Empowering Lives in Kenya
Through a generous private donor funding Empowering Lives International (ELI), we had the privilege of building playgrounds at two of their children’s homes in Kenya. Each of these homes accommodates approximately 60 children, organized into “families” of 10-15 kids, with foster parents residing on-site. We were honored to partner with an organization whose mission is to “empower orphans and families to overcome poverty, embrace Christ, and then share their life-changing experiences with others.” We believe the gift of play to these precious children will be part of promoting their overall care.
A unique playground build recently witnessed the coming together of multiple partners for kingdom building outreach… much like witnessing puzzle pieces coming together to reveal an impressive finished result. We are truly grateful to Minnesota’s Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church for their funding support, our friends at El Refugio and Baja Love Outreach who hosted and worked with our construction team, and not the least of which was our partners on the ground, Guarderia Dios Provehera orphanage in Mexico. This incredible partnership with KATW will bear much fruit as their efforts minister to precious orphans through the childhood gift of play!
Partnering with Family Legacy in Zambia
In partnership with our long standing friends at Family Legacy, we sent a small team this past month to Zambia to build 2 playgrounds in support of their ministry. Bringing much joy to the large number of students enrolled there, both were located at one of the 17 schools that Family Legacy operates. We’re thankful that God is using us to partner alongside such an incredible ministry whose mission is to glorify God by serving vulnerable and orphaned children so they can live up to their God-given potential.
KIDStory in America
KIDStory was started as a means to reach children in communities that were unreached with the Gospel (specifically in other parts of the world). However, statistics show a steady decline of the American church and a staggering number of youth leaving their faith behind. As a result, we are hearing many say: Our kids in America need KIDStory too!
We have been prayerful that God would show us how to lead and answer. In response, God has opened amazing doors and provided opportunities which can only be attributed to Him. From Pennsylvania to Texas to Idaho (and numerous places in between), churches throughout the US who are “tired of the bling” found in many children’s church curricula have approached KATW with the desire to implement a methodology where children would truly be discipled. Upon hearing of KIDStory and its interactive methods of letting God’s Word do the work, there’s praise and recognition that this was the answer to their prayers – and ours as well!
As we’ve trained and equipped hundreds of children’s leaders, how have many reacted?
We share some of their joyful responses:
- Our youth group was in the Dominican Republic and was unexpectedly asked to minister to a group of children. After recent viewing of the KIDStory training videos, they decided to teach by what they had learned. It went amazingly well as the children strongly engaged with the Bible Story.
- The head of our missions department had been looking at KIDStory prior to leaving for Pakistan; He is now teaching the leaders there how to teach through KIDStory!
- We had a group that was trained on Friday night decide to implement it on Sunday morning in church. They were surprised at how much the kids were participating and could remember the Bible story they were teaching!
- We have a mom of 2 preschoolers who decided to apply KIDStory at home where she “built” a boat on their living room couch from which to tell a Bible story. The boys replayed the story for an hour after she shared the story!
- [As Executive Pastor of the church who attended Friday night training] I thought it was a great night. And a significant night. I’m super excited for this shift. Well done.
We are overjoyed that God is using KIDStory to reach children here in the United States too!
Trusting That The Word Will Speak at NCCC
KIDStory methodology being multiplied gives cause for much joy! Our partners at North Coast Calvary Chapel in CA, recently shared of their application of KIDStory with over 2000 children in 4 weeks of KidsGames (much like VBS) at their church. Such deep impression was made on their team with how the Holy Spirit can speak to and through the youngest of children.
Of their participants, one particular four year-old autistic child shared, “I am smiling all day because I got to play Jesus today (in the re-enacting). When I grow up I want to be like you and tell kids about Jesus from the Bible. Can you teach me how to do this when I get older?” Following the telling of the story of the Prodigal Son, another child responded with, “I think the father represents God. The prodigal son is who we are. Whenever I do something wrong and turn back to Jesus, He will celebrate me!”
NCCC’s team lead enthusiastically shared with us the confirmation that we can trust that the Word will speak for itself and go deep into children’s hearts.
Online Training with Great Impact
Good news of great spiritual impact coming out of Malawi this quarter too! Ministry partner, Evangelical Ambassadors Revival Mission, started with our KIDStory online training videos, then was able to attend our in person training in Zambia. Although they were already conducting children’s Bible meetings, it’s remarkable to hear that 22 new StoryClubs have been established since they adopted KIDStory. Furthermore, the existing clubs have received training and are now actively implementing KIDStory principles. These StoryClubs have 8,401 children registered of whom 5,400 are regularly attending and being discipled each week!
View their JOY here: https://vimeo.com/kidsaroundtheworld/kidstorymalawi?share=copy
The children’s feedback from their lessons is incredibly touching, as evidenced by their uplifting quotes:
- “God supplies all our needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.”
- “Have faith in God!”
- “All those who believe in Jesus Christ are given the power to become the sons of God.”
- “Jesus loves me!”
- “We are children of the Father, we are citizens of the Kingdom, we are family, we are one.”
- “We are children of God because we believe in Jesus Christ!”
Hope Zone Communities
Ecuador. Dominican Republic. Uganda.
- 8 HOPE ZONES IN UGANDA
- 10 HOPE ZONES IN THE D.R.
- 45 HOPE ZONES IN ECUADOR
Through our Hope Zone model, we create environments where children can be discipled, given a nutritious meal, and have access to a playground – that is what Kids Around the World is all about. We created our movement to establish Hope Zones 2.5 years ago in order to empower more communities to reach more kids with this strategy. Because of the generosity and support of many over the years, we now have more than 5,000 kids engaged on a weekly basis.
ECUADOR Highlight: Our ministry expansion in Ecuador continues to show us that God will always do abundantly more than we can ever plan or imagine. The Hope Zones in this country encompass what Kids Around the World is all about. The promise of hope for the next generation. Our staff there has led hundreds of volunteers throughout the past three months into life changing moments. On these trips, generous Hope Zone Sponsors and individuals have built seven playgrounds within communities in order to bring the joy of play to children. Local officials, communities and families are seeing the unbelievable impact our Hope Zones are having and want it for every community. We have recently launched seven new Hope Zones in neighborhoods around the country! God has extravagant plans for His children and we are honored to be a part of them.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Highlight: This year, tens of thousands of meals have been distributed, four playgrounds have been built, and 35 Bible school teachers have been trained using the KIDStory strategy. We continue to trust the Lord with where to serve and as He guides us to partner with those who have a passion for reaching children with Jesus. We are blessed to share that two more KIDStory training workshops are scheduled for this month in La Romana and Jarabacoa, where over 50 more teachers will be participating. Over the next two months, three more playgrounds will be installed, and we’re thankful to know that hundreds of children will experience a safe and joyful place to play.
UGANDA Highlight: KATW Uganda has experienced incredible blessings within the last three months! Not only will KIDStory workshops now have a ripple effect transforming thousands of children, but we’re celebrating the arrival of a container FULL of OneMeal, a team building a playground (as you read this) and our newly built warehouse! This structure will be stocked with meals and surrounded by little ones hearing Jesus’ Story. This building is just one incredible example of how hope is being brought to the next generation.