Hi, my name is Sandra and I was a nurse for 30 years but had to retire early in 2012 as my health had been steadily deteriorating with both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis over several years. I had been struggling to keep going but even so, it was a bit of a shock to stop work quite suddenly.
I had always really enjoyed running various parenting groups and over the years had often mused about how baby massage, in particular, could be a great way to reach out to families with little ones under 1. Alongside teaching baby massage, it would be an opportunity to share the gospel and welcome people into church who may not usually attend.
So after praying and thinking about how this would work I came up with a proposal which I brought to the pastor and then the elders to see if they felt it would be feasible – I planned to run the course over 5 weeks and at the end, just before coffee I would leave a ” thought for the day” in which I would talk for around five minutes linking a topic related to parenting with a verse in the Bible and over the weeks share how God offers forgiveness, peace and eternal life to those who trust in Him. The elders and pastor could not have been more encouraging and supportive, so we decided to run a course as outlined above and see if there was any interest. I also needed help with the physical side of set up and clearing away and I have been truly blessed to have May and Lilian helping in this way and am also very grateful for several other ladies who step in as needed. We also get to know the parents through chatting over coffee time.
The response to fliers and invites via health visitors was great and the first group quickly filled up and ran in May of 2014. By the end of that group, I had enough names for another and this has continued to be the case to the present time (we usually have 10-12 per group). There has been no need for any further promotional work as I am contacted mainly through recommendations from health visitors or mums who have been on the course. We extended early on to 6 weeks and also run a reunion coffee morning after every two groups to catch up with everyone again. We are delighted several have returned with their second baby as well. So to date, we have had around 250 parents overall and even had 26 attend a special evening outreach event we ran for mums in February. We have had many go on to attend parent and toddlers and several attending church services.
We also have a table set out with a variety of Bibles, gospels, booklets etc – I have lost count of how many of these have been taken – It is my prayer that all we do will be used by God to help bring parents to trust in Him as their saviour.
I am deeply grateful that God has brought this ministry to fruition and am humbled that I can be of service even though I am such a feeble person! It is so true as Ephesians 3v20 says “God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us”. It’s wonderful to still feel useful and I am thankful that God can use the weakest of vessels in service to Him.