News from Bethany Green, Rosedale Community Church
Martin and I stood just inside the door looking around in stunned silence.
To our left little people were running in and out of kitchen with plates of plastic toast and chicken drumsticks. Across from us were racecars being zoomed over the carpet. To our right the playdough table was full of industry as they made cakes and cut out animals. Over in the far corner babies kicked on the mat under the baby gym. Interweaved through all of this action was a rocking horse, a sit-on Thomas the Tank Engine and a slide. We knew that somewhere there was a quiet mat with books and jigsaws, but we couldn’t see them because of the number of bodies in our church hall.
Without looking at me, Martin muttered, “Twenty-seven families. What are we going to do with them all? We’ve run out of sign up sheets.” Equally wide-eyed at the scene before us, I muttered back, “We don’t have enough beakers and bowls for snack time.”
In July 2018 the local children’s centre had closed its doors and there had been no provision for pre-school children in West Cheshunt since then. In the autumn, frustrated with the lack of response, a group of us had gathered to discuss the possibility of opening a parent and toddler group. There had been one at Rosedale for many years, but with the arrival of the new, pretty children’s centres, it had gradually dwindled. However, stored in various cupboards and sheds were all the toys and resources. Could we open it up again?
But at the same time, in October 2018, as a response to a local Council report, we had tried a week of Lunch Clubs to address the issue of holiday hunger. The initiative had not been a success. Only two families came along, and one of those was due to boredom not hunger. It was a disappointing failure and we were feeling a bit downcast. But not defeated. God was calling us to invest in our community and show his love to those around us. So we took a deep breath and decided we would go for the new venture.
And so, on the 9th January, we had opened our doors for the new Butterfly Babes parent and toddler group. There were people queuing to get in. Our lounge turned into a buggy park and the food prep team in the kitchen were working at full steam. We were expecting maybe ten families, perhaps 15 at the very most. We were totally unprepared for 27.
The families, of course are delighted. We have a range of toys and activities, a craft, children’s snack of fruit and toast and the grown ups get a cup of tea. There is a suggested donation of £1 (mostly because we have a 17yr old mother who doesn’t have much money), and everyone contributes.
There have been surprisingly few teething issues. We have bought more resources and some foam mats and moved the stickle bricks away from the baby mat. For safety reasons we have decided to limit the numbers to 25 families, and this has been welcomed. Next week we plan to ask the parents/careers for feedback.
I remember reading once that Rick Warren (Saddleback Church in USA) mentioned that all he did was catch the wave that the Lord had provided. It feels like we have caught a ‘wave’. Now we are asking the Lord, ‘what next?’
With love, Rosedale Community Church, Cheshunt