Be a Barnabas Friend

By Celia Jarrett

Most of us, at some point in our childhood, have had an adult friend who listened to us and helped us get through the difficulties of growing up. It may have been a teacher, a pastor, a coach, or another adult to whom we could talk freely and who offered us support. They did not necessarily do anything other than listen and point us toward how to get through our difficulties, but their presence in our lives was very important.

For children who come from homes that are fighting illness, poverty, violence, drugs, or criminal activity, having that listening ear is so much more important. Sometimes just getting things off your chest, even if the person listening can’t fix the problem, relieves a lot of the pressure under which these children live.

St. John’s Lutheran Church has had a long-term program, the Barnabas Connection, that reaches out to children at Knox Middle School who are dealing with difficult circumstances.  Volunteers provide that needed listening ear as they share a meal with the children, join them in small group discussion, work with them on creative art activities, and help with homework. Once a week for a few hours, these volunteer friends are there for that child when they may have no one else to talk to.

The new school year is approaching and we are looking for volunteers to be Barnabas Friends to these children.  Barnabas meets at the church each Thursday, except for school holidays, from 2:30 to 5 pm, beginning Oct. 4 this year. If are interested in volunteering for the school year or for a few sessions to spend time with and be a friend to these young people we’d love to have you join us. For more information, contact Nancy Gaines, director of the Barnabas Connection, at ngaines@fibrant.com. There is nothing so rewarding as a child’s smile, and you can be a part of bringing a smile to the Barnabas children.