A moms’ group begins?
“They’re just coming for the free childcare and maybe the free air conditioning,” is what I think to myself.
Tuesday mornings from 10 to 11:30 is the mom’s group at the OMF Hope Center in Wanhua. The neighbors might think that it’s just a place for tiny toddlers to run wild. Still too young for public school and priced out of private daycare, we started the mom’s group to see if we could fill a need that all young mothers know well, “what in the world are we going to do all day while daddy is at work?”
Things could hardly have gotten off to a worse start when I joined the group in May 2016. Elodie was just 8 months old then, and we lived about 45 minutes away by bus. That is normal for Taipei, but 45 minutes is still 45 minutes, and Elodie enjoyed crying during bus rides. It also always seemed to rain on Tuesdays. So when I walked into the center, I usually had to fake that I was in a good mood. That wasn’t too hard, though, because it was usually just me and Ziggy anyway.
I was pretty disappointed and complained inside a lot. I wondered why I bothered going week after week. Many weeks went by, and still, no one.
Moms start coming
Finally one day, someone surprising showed up at the door. Yes, the lady had a little kid with her, but she herself was 68 years-old. Not exactly our target group, but beggars can’t be choosers.
So we welcomed Grandma Lien into our group with open arms. However, it still felt a little weird to me. Where were the moms, and why wouldn’t they come? But for Grandma Lien, the group never felt strange to her.
Nevertheless, we kept pressing on. We started by singing a few children’s songs and letting the kids play. Eventually, we started singing a few worship songs, and added a main activity. Then we ended with simple prayers. We tried to create a safe, relaxing environment where moms could talk freely and have a few hours to take a break from taking care of their kids.
Soon, moms started coming. There is the mom who used to be a masseuse in a massage parlor where some of the employees offered more than massages. There’s the mom who is being abused by her husband. There is the mom who has a brain tumor that has left her feeling, in her words, “like an old pair of shoes,” and whose husband no longer loves after she got sick.
Moms, kids, and dads?
Now, two-and-a-half years later, more than ten moms and their kids have joined the group. We now have extended activities. Thursday mornings is our Bible study on the book of John for moms who are interested. Friday afternoons are aerobics classes followed by a Bible story. We have now finished going through the major Old Testament stories. On Saturdays we have held art classes for the kids and phonics class for the moms.
During the summer we took our first overnight field trip to Hsinchu, and 11 moms and 20 kids attended. That night some of the dads went bowling together and have since formed a LINE (a messaging app) group called “Daddy Time.”
Two months ago, the Hope team changed its Sunday evening service time from 7pm to 4pm and started offering Sunday school in order to attract more young families.
It seems to be working.
We now have a core group of steady attendees. Moms are being ministered to. Kids are singing Bible songs at home. Dads are no longer afraid to visit the inside of a church.
Any families coming to faith?
You may be thinking, “this is all great and I’m glad that you guys are all now buddies, but how many people have put their faith in Jesus?”
So far just one person. Can you guess who it is?
It’s Grandma Lien, the very first member of our group.
We believe that several others are getting closer, however. I can’t help but think this because every so often different moms tell us the same thing: “I was coming to the mom’s group for my kids initially, but now I am coming for myself.”
I try not to worry about the future, though, because if there is one thing I have learned through this experience, it is that God is Jehovah-Jireh. The Lord will provide. He has provided Margaret, Veronika, and Stella, who have been plowing the ground in Wanhua for 15 years, years before the mom’s group started. It’s a rare thing to find people who are willing to humbly and faithfully labor for that long before any fruit is seen. The Lord has provided the Hope team, including the Jansens, Sinee, Rixin, and the Nobles, to make the Hope Center way more than just a mom’s group.
All of the Hope Center ministries depend on and are connected with each other. The Lord has provided overseas financial donors, too, some of whom have never been to Taiwan.
Together, God has provided all of these different threads over the years and is perhaps beginning to weave them together into a luxurious banner of hope for the people of Wanhua.