Imagine what it’s like to be a new immigrant family in Edison, NJ. “Parents are struggling to make ends meet,” explains Rev. Dr. Louis Ao, who has served Stelton Baptist Church in Edison, NJ, since 2012. “Students are trying to fit into the school system and a new environment.”
A $1,000 Matthew 25 Grant from American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) is supporting Stelton Church to help people in the community handle all those adjustments through King’s Kidz Club, an after-school initiative offering elementary-aged children Bible story time, prayer and tutoring to help the children with their studies. The church also offers English as a Second Language classes. “We’re so grateful for the grant,” Rev. Ao says. “We used the funds to purchase board games for educational purposes and snacks and fruit juice.”
Rev. Ao explains that Stelton Church traces its roots in the area to 1689, when it was known as First Baptist Church of Piscataway.
King’s Kidz Club has played a significant role in helping to revitalize the church in recent years. “When I was called to serve Stelton Church as its senior pastor in 2012 the congregation had been declining significantly for two decades,” Rev. Ao explains. “Only about 10 members were attending the church. By God’s grace today the church now has more than 50 members. It is a multi-cultural church representing our community.”
Rev. Ao explains that according to demographic studies the cultural makeup of the community consists of 50.2 percent Caucasian, 9.8 percent African American or Black, 8.5 percent Latino, 37.5 percent Asian and .9 percent “other.”
In recent months King’s Kidz Club has had 10 regular elementary school attendees and expects to attract more participation in the coming year. “Parents have told us they are grateful to be able to do their chores at home while their children are safely in the program,” Rev. Ao says. Other parents use the time to do studying of their own. “The children tell us they love the program. One student says, ‘I am getting A’s because the tutors have helped me to learn math.’”
The Matthew 25 Grant initiative, sponsored by ABCUSA and the Board of General Ministries, is funded by a generous, anonymous donor whose goal is to meet the needs of “housing, feeding, education and health with regard to the less fortunate.” The application process for a Matthew 25 Grant is structured to help small ministries with limited staff time. For more information on the grant and application process visit www.abc-usa.org/matthew25/.