Louisiana Church’s After-School Outreach Helps Bring Students to Jesus

Pastor Lonnie Gothrup encourages members of KIDs Beach Club during a December meeting at E.K. Key Elementary School in Sulphur. Members of Houston River Baptist Church in Sulphur have spent their Thursday afternoons showing God’s love to the third to fifth graders since the club was formed in 2016. Brian Blackwell photo

SULPHUR, La. (Baptist Message) — Volunteers with an after-school outreach are finding Jesus saves in the halls of Sulphur’s E.K. Key Elementary School.

Since 2016, members of the Houston River Baptist Church in Sulphur have spent their Thursday afternoons serving up snacks, leading small group spiritual discussions and participating in games with 100 third to fifth graders at KiDs Beach Club.

Every student who attends receives a Bible and t-shirt, and some even place their trust in Jesus. Four children have accepted Christ since the start of the school year last fall.

“It’s very moving to see a child come to trust Jesus,” said Houston River Baptist Pastor Lonnie Gothrup. “We just want children to have an opportunity to see the Gospel lived out and presented. All of our volunteers are laypeople who see an opportunity to love the kids,” he continued. “We are not just going in there with a prayer. We are going to present them with the Gospel.

“This is an example of a church investing in the school children spiritually,” he said. “Many parents see that and appreciate it. While we may not see every child come to Christ, we are doing all we can to show His love to kids who may not have any other opportunity to hear about Jesus.”

Beach Club is “an innovative ministry established to mobilize the church to go outside its walls in order to take the message of Christ into the heart of its community,” according to the organization’s website.

Since 2003, more than 96,000 kids have been impacted by clubs, which include locations in Louisiana (Caddo, Calcasieu and East Baton Rouge parishes) and 10 other states. At least 8,576 of these students have professed Christ as Savior, including 280 this school year.

Beach Club provides a way to reach families in the neighborhood who otherwise would not come to the church campus, Gothrup said. Before, none of the students in the housing authority complex came to Houston River Baptist, only 2.5 miles away. But now that parents know the joy their children are experiencing in Beach Club, they allow a church van to pick up their children for Wednesday evening activities. Moreover, on Sunday mornings, 30-40 students from the development can be counted among the 300 worshipers.

Gothrup’s dream is to plant a church in the housing project, and he sees the relationships that are being formed now will help lead to the manifestation of this goal one day.

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Source: Baptist Press