Can the simple truths a 1st grader is learning about the Bible change an entire family? Could a middle school lesson on God’s Word prepare a grown man for greater faithfulness to Christ? For Alayna Whitaker, Scott Ward, Emily Allen, and Stephanie Lee Ateek, the answer is, yes. All four have seen the Lord bring about tremendous life change in their own hearts and in the children and families they serve through Kids and Student Ministries. Here is how the Lord is using our Watermark family to shape hearts and disciple the next generation.
“When I started serving at On Your Mark I had only been a believer for about six months. I owned a Bible that was given to me as a child, but at 20 years old I had hardly ever opened it. I didn’t have a clue about Noah, David, Saul, or any of these stories that seemed like common knowledge to others. At first, I was so confused how I was supposed to teach kids about Bible stories that they probably knew better than I did. But I began digging into the lessons each week and asking God to give me wisdom and discernment. The Lord used these seven and eight year olds to teach me even more about who He is and how He loves us. He also created in me a hunger for Scripture that I had never experienced before. When I started serving as a 20 year old, I felt like I had the same level of faith as the kids. I was fresh, new, and eager to grow. Since then, the Lord has grown me more than I could have imagined.”
“I have served some of the same families for the last few years, and it is incredible to see kids grow in their faith. Every week I am surprised by their wisdom and unwavering belief that God is good. I teach the 3rd and 4th grade girls at a time when they are trying to establish their identity. With so many distractions and temptations, it is encouraging to see them choosing Christ. When I think of all the hurt and pain I could have been spared if I had only known Christ sooner, it makes me motivated for these girls to know God’s faithfulness and increase their trust in Him alone.”
“Empowering children to learn more about Jesus, watching them grow in their faith, and applying what they have learned is very rewarding. I’ve also learned a lot just from watching them learn. Growing up, I was not grounded and mentored in faith. I had to ‘unlearn’ many things throughout my adulthood. My faith has been shaped by applying each lesson in my own life, as my co-leader and I help to empower each student to go through the steps of applying each lesson in each of their lives.”
“I’ve definitely seen both students and parents learn how to deal with conflict better. Having gone through Watermark’s re|engage marriage ministry with my wife, I have learned firsthand how to both handle conflict and coach others through this process as well. One of my biggest take-aways has been learning that if I am part of a conflict, then I have a part in the conflict! I’ve seen students and parents learn to draw the circle around themselves, take ownership over their part of the conflict, and find a resolution and reconciliation. The impact this has on the families is huge! I’ve also witnessed Christlike conflict resolution first-hand between students within my small group.”
Stephanie Lee Ateek:
“I started serving in Kids Ministry soon after beginning a relationship with Jesus. Serving in this area has been one of the most rewarding choices of my life. I now have a foundation built on truth, love, and grace that I didn’t know was even available. Taking time in God’s Word and subsequently teaching in Kids Ministry helped fill the gaps in my understanding of who Jesus is. My son was two when I began serving. Six years later, I am still moved by what the kids are learning. My son and I talk through each story we learn and apply Scripture to daily life, which provides me with practical ways to point him toward righteousness.”
“Through serving in Kids’ Ministry, the Lord has taught me the value and joy of setting aside my own desires in order to serve others. Through the stories, lessons, and activities, I have learned more about the ministry of Jesus as well as how God reveals His love, grace, and forgiveness in every story of the Bible. I have learned that my time is supposed to be spent serving God because ‘my time’ doesn’t really belong to me. It is a gift that God has given me, and I am doing my best to be a good steward of the gifts He has blessed me with.”
To find out more about investing in the next generation of fully devoted followers of Christ, visit watermark.org/ servekids.