It’s been 12 years, and Gina hasn’t stopped praying for the kids she met during her first visit to Nashville Rescue Mission.
“My first interaction with the Mission began through a couple who was new to our church,” said Gina. “Sherry and Bruce had been volunteering at the Mission for years. They were leading a chapel service for the women staying at the Mission and asked if anyone would be interested in doing something with the kids at the same time, allowing the mothers to engage in the service and not worry about their kids being disruptive.”
Gina and her friend Jackie stepped up to the challenge. Both had experience working in children’s ministry and committed to coordinate activities for the kids. Over time, their efforts would extend beyond this area, adding male volunteers as role models, creating a Bible study for teenagers, and hosting an annual Mother’s Day dinner for the women.
“In the beginning, our team of volunteers consisted of kids from our youth group, along with parents, and others from various churches in our community,” said Gina. “And even though the group volunteering has changed over those 12 years, we’ve remained faithful to the calling God has given us to serve the children.”
“Having all the kids together in one group was especially challenging. We had kids ranging in age from 5 to 17 within a group of 40 to 50 kids. God put it on my heart to start a Bible study for the teenagers. So, we recruited more volunteers who allowed us to split the groups into two.”
“Initially I thought the teens would balk at having a Bible study, but they have surprised me. It’s obvious many of them enjoy our time together, and I’m thankful for that. I get so much from hearing them pray. Hearing words of praise and thanksgiving from a teenager in the midst of such a difficult situation, it does something to me. I know God has bonded our hearts in a way that is supernatural. It’s overwhelming.”
Seeing the value of male role models, Gina started bringing her husband about seven years ago. She has two grown sons who come when they are available, along with other men from the church community. “I think it’s important to have men involved so the children can see a man who is willing to rely on God, and pray to Him. It sets a good example for them to follow.”
With a heavy burden for the mothers who are trying to parent in a shelter environment, Gina also had a strong desire to do something special for them, leading her to start an annual Mother’s Day dinner. “We come to serve the moms, to love them, encourage them, affirm them, and pray for them. It’s amazing to see their response when they realize we are there because we love Christ, and we love them.”
When asked why she continues to volunteer after all these years, Gina replied, “It’s not about the other volunteers or me. We are the instruments, and we try to yield to the burden the Lord has given us to care for the kids. It’s not just about bringing crafts and games for the kids. It’s about standing on the truth of God’s word. We want to hold up Christ to them—Christ, and Christ alone. There’s nothing else we could offer them that would make an eternal difference.”
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