Rebellious teen's journey to leading thriving kids ministry

When Sammy Brown was a teenager, she’d sometimes sleep at the local church because it made her feel safe from everything going on in her life. Like the people around her, she turned to alcohol to try to feel better, but when a missions trip came to her town and a friend consistently told her about Jesus, she decided that enough was enough, that what she was doing wasn’t getting her anywhere, and decided to become a Christian.

Now she’s Kids Pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Hamilton, Scotland, and seeing incredible influence with the children in the area. She started a kids club in August, and 21 children came to the first event.

She said: “I was amazed! I’d only told only one primary school by handing out a fistful of leaflets and they turned up that night.

“Each week it’s gradually growing – we had 63 children yesterday. We’re still working out how to manage that.”

Sammy is passionate about creating that safe space for children that she found as she was growing up, and believing that each child can become more than what their circumstances dictate.

She said: “For me it’s about seeing the potential in the children; and seeing what they’re facing on an every day challenge. Even at a very young age; addiction and poverty and things that will drag them down. If we can speak into their life at such a young age and tell them that life doesn’t have to be that way, we can encourage them to it in a different way.

“For me growing up drinking was just normal, what everyone does. We’re showing kids that it’s not about that; it’s about helping other people, being kind, sticking up for people being bullied, standing up and being the change they wish to see. For us that’s job done.”

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The club runs in a small hall with very little equipment or facilities, and has 6         -12 year olds. Recently they put on a dinner for all 63 children and nine adults, which would have been some of the children’s first ever sit down meal.

Harvest Christian Fellowship also run monthly Oasis Café, which serves a Saturday morning brunch to families and helps them get to know people from church. This then feeds through to their monthly family services, where the children do a song and a story and there is a testimony and a gospel message.

Sammy said: “We have some parents from the community who help on Monday at kids clubs, and we have a God slot where we talk about a bible story.

“Over last four weeks talked about God’s love and how that has changed lives and this Dad was sitting there with his children. You don’t know if they’re taking it in or not, but then they came to Oasis Café, and then to church then he gave his heart to God. That’s how we see the process of people coming in from the community and into the church.”

The church is currently working on buying a building, and when that happens Sammy wants to expand their outreach with more kids groups, parents groups and really creating a safe space for children in the community.

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She said: “I’m personally all about the one, the one child who gets on your nerves, because I was that one child. I used to break into my old church and wreck the place. I was constantly on the children’s pastor’s nerves. Now I’m 29 and serving in full time ministry and leading an incredible ministry.

“I could never have done it without them, and I recently had a chance to go back and say thank you. You just have to keep believing in the individual child.”