By Lindsay Peyton
More than half a million of Houston’s residents are immigrants, meaning hundreds of thousands of children in the city live with all the challenges accompanying their legal status. Imagine adding to the difficulties of low socio-economic living, isolation and fear the immigrant population often experiences. These children deserve care and compassion as much as anyone but too often do not receive either. This is where Clear Lake United Methodist Church in Houston’s Urban Ministries program comes in. Urban Ministries is dedicated to providing support, guidance and a sense of community to these vulnerable children.
“We have a contract with various apartment complexes around the city who have arranged for some of their children to come to our ministry when they get dropped off after school,” says Rev. Andres Morales, Pastor of Hispanic Ministries at Clear Lake UMC. “Every week, I get to not only play with the kids and facilitate activities but read the Bible to them and pray with them.”
Most children participating in Urban Ministries are between five and 11 years old, many coming from single-parent households or dysfunctional families where stability and routine may be scarce. The ministry helps to fill in these gaps by not only teaching them about God’s love for them and his word, but providing practical resources and a dependable structure. Through these teachings, the ministry aims to equip the children with the tools they need to become successful and compassionate individuals.
“We share the Scriptures with them, but we also teach them life lessons and skills based on kingdom values,” said Morales. “They’re learning the importance of hard work for prospering, kindness, self-control, all the fruits of the Spirit.”
One poignant example of Urban Ministries’ impact is the story of a child who had severe behavioral issues upon joining the program. Through the consistent presence and guidance provided by Morales, this young individual experienced a remarkable transformation, showing marked improvement in behavior and overall well-being.