Standing in the Gap for Students
Deer Park Baptist Church in North Charleston, SC has been serving teachers and students in North Charleston since 2016 through Heart4Schools. The ministry started with simple acts such as backpack buddies and reading partners, but soon shifted its focus to come alongside teachers, serving them and helping meet their needs.
Cindy Watts, a member of Heart4Schools, shared her experience with the ministry, stating, “Once we kind of shifted and began to ask those kind of questions, where do you need us? What can we help you do? What shortages are you finding? Things started changing and growing beyond where we started. That was a big turning point.”
The school they serve is a title one school, which means it has a high percentage of students from low-income families. The church has been working closely with the school’s parent advocate and principal, building relationships and connections over the years.
However, in 2018, both the parent advocate and principal left, and the church had to start over with building relationships with new people. The COVID-19 pandemic added another layer of difficulty, but the ministry persevered and continued to serve the school community.
Cindy shared how the ministry’s milestones were not just about providing basic needs, but also about building deeper relationships and being asked to help in bigger ways. “It’s not just that we have a family who needs food, it’s that I need you to pray for this. This needs prayer. Can y’all do this? And asking us to help in bigger ways.”
Despite the challenges, Cindy expressed the importance of staying committed to the ministry. “The school is the door to the community,” she said. And indeed, Heart4Schools has been able to make a significant impact on the community through their partnerships and dedication.
Cindy encourages others who may be starting out in a similar ministry to be aware that it is a marathon, not a sprint. “Sometimes you’ll wonder, you know, because things may be going along. Last year I did some time of prayer and reflection as to whether I need to step aside from this ministry, but the answer from the Lord came back clear to stay put.”
The dedication of Deer Park Baptist in serving teachers and students in North Charleston has shown that building relationships and being committed to the community can make a significant impact, even in the face of challenges. As Cindy put it, “Everything’s a process and takes time, but it’s worth it.”
Our desire is to connect every school in South Carolina with a church that loves and serves them well. To learn more, visit www.scbaptist.org/heart4schools.