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The United Methodist Church of LeMars in Northwest Iowa has a special kids group. The Kids 4 Christ program is made up of children ages 3 to those in 5th grade. The group recently raised $1,050 to donate to other children through the Children’s Miracle Network.
“We don’t want to limit our ministry only within our building,” said Rev. Okitakoyi Lundula. “We make it so we are there for the community and beyond the local church.”
Kids 4 Christ meets every Wednesday with 45 children attending weekly. Many children aren’t church members but from the LeMars community. On Sunday, many of those children also attend worship service.
Once a month, LeMars UMC’s mission committee designates a special offering to give to groups outside the church through its Noisy Money Mission. The Noisy Money Mission gets its name from special collections made up of loose change from congregants.
“We call it noisy money because the idea is to get loose money and when they drop that money in the can, it makes noise,” said Lundula.
Noisy Money offerings have gone to local, national and international groups in the past. This Lent, though, Lundula asked for a specific group of people to raise money.
“I requested, as a pastor, if we could use the season of Lent for children to do the mission work,” he said. “The idea was to make children feel like they can also be part of somebody’s life by helping strangers and somebody beyond the local church.”
So, it made the most sense for the group to help other children. The recipient of the money raised would be St. Luke’s Unity Point Hospital in Sioux City through the Children’s Miracle Network. The idea to help St. Luke’s came from one of LeMars UMC’s own children.
A young church member named Marcus, 8, was in the hospital for many months after he was born and was helped by the Children’s Miracle Network. Marcus and his mother shared their story and photos of his journey during children’s time one Sunday.
“That was a motivation for the kids,” said Lundula. “If we can do something for the Children’s Miracle Network, many children will be blessed, just like Marcus.”
The two weeks prior to Lent and every Sunday during Lent, the children would collect noisy money from church members after the children’s time. Some members also gave “silent money” like dollar bills.
“The kids, they like when the money is making noise,” said Lundula. “They like to run up and down the aisle collecting the money.”
After the Lent season, the church collected enough noisy and silent money to present a check to the Children’s Miracle Network for $1,050. Lundula presented the money to the organization at their annual Radiothon fundraiser. The representatives with the hospital and Children’s Miracle Network were surprised to receive such a large sum.
“We told them before we were doing a mission project,” said Lundula. “They didn’t expect us to have $1,050.”
The donation from Kids 4 Christ helped St. Luke’s raise more than $120,000, a new record for the organization.
“They are very happy that it helped push them up to their goal that they were working on this year,” said Lundula.
Community of giving
“We are doing very well in the area of mission,” said Lundula. “Doing the mission is really part of the DNA of LeMars.”
An ongoing project for the church is working with Africa University. They support missionaries at the University and other missionaries in Africa. They have also helped raise money to provide clean water in South America. Next fall the church plans to collect books to give to students at an elementary school.
The teens in the church also got involved with mission work. This lat year, a group of seventh and eighth graders collected money to buy food for the needy in the community. They also go to different nursing homes in the area to visit residents. The high schoolers of the church bought Christmas gifts for nursing home residents as well.
“Every month we have something to fit the mission of making disciples for the world,” said Lundula. “That transformation comes through the love we share through the local church.”
That transformation and passion for helping others is evident as the LeMars church is seeing more people join them in their mission. They have had 13 new confirmations and 10 new members join.
“We really feel the spirit moving and we pray that God will continue to bless us in that way,” said Lundula.