My story of coming to faith in Jesus is a little unusual. Coming from a Hindu background, I first met Jesus as an adult… at a toddler group!
As a child, my belief in God was a big factor in my life. My mother instilled in me the beautiful core beliefs of the Hindu faith and modelled true devotion to God, also teaching me to respect other religions. I have a powerful memory of attending a Sunday school service at a young age. Even then, I remember feeling welcome, and there were plenty of games and songs to sing along to – the things you really remember as a child!
I was sure that a toddler group would be totally out of my comfort-zone.
By the time my son was born, however, my religious interaction had reduced to taxiing my mother to the Hindu temples. My friends and family had raised their children already, so my son didn’t have a close community, and I was very conscious that he was an only child. It sounds odd, but having raised two dogs, I knew that dogs learn from each other, gaining their developmental skills from their fellow canine friends. It helped me realise that my son just wasn’t getting that same social and emotional connection from his own peer group!
How could I resist homemade food and a chance for my son to make his own friends?
When a doctor first suggested trying a local toddler group, I wasn’t convinced. I’d spent 25 years in a male-dominated, aggressive work environment, and I was sure that a toddler group would be totally out of my comfort-zone. But at just four months old, I was having to take my son to regular GP appointments for his health and wellbeing, so I realised that I needed to put my preconceived ideas aside and just bite the bullet.
My neighbour had fond memories of a local church-led toddler group, based on homemade soup, cakes, and plenty of sandwiches, so I decided this is where I should try. How could I resist homemade food and a chance for my son to make his own friends?
After joining the church, I realised that I actually wanted my son to be brought up learning about Jesus.
I immediately felt just as welcomed as I had done when I visited as a small child. At church, I suddenly found a whole group of other parents and helpers who could reassure me about the worries I hadn’t been able to share with anyone. My son even took his first steps at church! And, as promised, there was plenty of food…
Being in a church environment, hugely awakened my belief in God. Prior to joining the group, I had become a lapsed Hindu, and as my mother was elderly and in a care home, I didn’t have the knowledge or wisdom to pass on the Hindu faith to my son. After joining the church, however, I realised that I actually wanted my son to be brought up learning about Jesus. By this point, I had started to attend an Alpha Course, and wanted to be able to guide my son on his own journey in the Christian faith. The toddler group, church community, and Alpha Course all brought God’s light into my life, removing the darkness I’d experienced over a number of years. As a result, my son and I were both baptised as Christians!
I found an instant support network and a lot of us have become close friends who continue to share the highs and lows of raising children.
There are so many parents, grandparents, and carers who, like myself, can become isolated. By joining the toddler group, however, I found an instant support network and a lot of us have become close friends who continue to share the highs and lows of raising children. And it wasn’t just practical things like overcoming speech delays and working out the schooling system, but also finding a whole church family to support me both emotionally and spiritually.
If you’re wondering what impact your church-led toddler group makes, then let my story be reassurance that you have far more effect than you could imagine… For those of all faiths and none, God does amazing things through toddler groups!
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