This was a year of continuing to listen for and cooperate with God’s priorities for KidZ at Heart. To the best of our ability, our staff and board gathers regularly for a variety of spiritual practices, where we attempt to create space to be with and listen to God as a ministry team. You might think of it as creating a Tabernacle experience where we can spend time with God personally.
As we continued to follow those practices together in 2018, we saw God bring new people, new projects, and new clarity about what he has planned for KidZ at Heart International.
For those of you that have journeyed with us for the past 16 years, you may have recognized that the way we now talk about KidZ at Heart has changed a bit in the past year. We haven’t changed what God has us doing, but our staff has worked hard to better explain who we are and what we do. We think you will agree that they have done an incredible job.
- Who is KidZ at Heart? We are a global Christian community!
- Why does KidZ at Heart exist? To help children all over the world fall deeply in love with Jesus!
- How do we do that?
- We partner with people and organizations within a culture who already have a relationship with children and a God-given responsibility to nurture them.
- We then train them to create space for the child and God to meet one-on-one.
- Once we have trained enough leaders in a community, we mobilize them by establishing networks that are self-sustaining and self-replicating.
- We have a wonderful new one-minute video (that explains KidZ at Heart in a fun way). After you enjoy watching, please share this link with a friend so they, too, can join the community called KidZ!
- In 2018, we entered into a partnership with Curt and Debbie Swindoll and Grafted Life Ministries to recreate that Tabernacle experience for children. Together, we are creating Children with God to be included with Grafted Life’s “whole life” discipleship program to bring the whole church closer to God. Children with God is designed to serve the local church for ministry to children birth through 8th The leaders who use these materials will also benefit from the activities designed for their own Tabernacle experience as they prepare each week.
- We enter 2019 continuing to enjoy our ministry partnerships with several others, too:
- KEST (Kampala Evangelical School of Theology, Uganda),
- Walk Thru the Bible / Turn the Tide (South Africa),
- UEES (Evangelical University of El Salvador),
- Hope International University (Fullerton, CA),
- Equipping Kids (U.S.),
- 1 for 50 Movement,
- 4/14 Movement.
New Board Member:
- Our Board of Directors unanimously and enthusiastically voted to add Scottie May to the governing body of KidZ at Heart. Scottie is an expert in spiritual formation for children, a professor at Wheaton College, and author of several respected books, including Children Matter, Listening to Children on the Spiritual Journey, and Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation.
- The continuing members of our board, continued to offer expertise in missions, accounting, business, non-profit leadership, children’s ministry, and spiritual formation, with founding board members, Larry Tiffan and Becki West, being recognized for completing their 15th year of faithful service to KidZ at Heart.
New Staff Members:
- God brought several new talented team members to the KidZ at Heart staff community in 2018.
- Adam Ormord (Anthem, AZ) joined us late in 2017 as fulltime Director of Regional Ministries and our unofficial staff spiritual director.
- Amy O’Brien (New York, NY) got started as our Coordinating Editor for our Children with God curriculum project.
- Brittany van Wyk (Rocksprings, TX) was added a Mobilizer assisting short-term teams traveling overseas.
- Josh Rasmussen (Jamul, CA) became our fulltime Vice President of Development.
- Judy Steffek (Mesa, AZ) took the reigns at headquarters as our Office Manager.
- Tanya Sloan (National Training Network Coordinator for Haiti, Blaine, MN), Jo Ellen Platania (Director of Community Development, Wesley Chapel, FL), and Allison Gibson (Visual Media Coordinator, Ventura, CA) are all set to join us during January 2019, but we’ll tell you more about them in the months to come!
New International Training Network Events:
- KidZ at Heart El Salvador launched our first leadership community retreat outside of North America. Under the leadership of Adam Ormord and Carolina de Portillo, the national staff, leadership team, and licensed trainers of Latin America gathered in El Salvador for a day of soul care and retreat. This was an incredible time of meeting with God and building community among leaders.
- In 2018, KidZ at Heart short-term teams conducted training in 12 countries. In 2019, 13 trips are already scheduled, to take place on 4 continents. These will include 40 to 65 team members and will train an expected 400 to 650 local leaders. We continue to work to offer short-term trips that are both safe and excellent, for both goers and receivers, and maintain membership in SOE (Standards of Excellence in Christian Missions).
- More and more of KidZ at Heart’s trainings outside of the United States were done by trained local leaders. Regional Director for Latin America, Carolina de Portillo, and her team of trainers trained over 100 leaders across El Salvador in 2018, awarded the KidZ Ministry Teacher Certificate to 80 successful graduates, and licensed an additional 24 National Trainers. Regional Director for Southern Africa, Lynnette Stander, and her team trained over 140 leaders across South Africa, in 2018 and awarded the KidZ Ministry Teacher Certificate to 80 successful graduates.
New North American Training Network Events:
- As in past years, KidZ at Heart conducted a number of training events for local churches, sponsored regional conferences offered by KidZ at Heart’s trainers, and joined multiple national conferences to provide training in spiritual formation for children.
- Our North American Ministries team launched Connecting Children with God this year. This is an online community and network of children’s ministry leaders who are looking for ways to connect children to God personally. Each month KidZ at Heart hosts conversations, a free, live discussion online about a different topic related to bringing spiritual formation to children. We also host a Facebook group where participants can ask questions, share frustrations, and give tips from their successes.
New Training Programs Completed:
- During 2018, KidZ at Heart completed many years of work to finalize, publish, and copyright the eight-module training program of KidZ at Heart’s KidZ Ministry Teacher Certificate Program.
- As the ministry continues to add new countries and new leaders around the world, we recognized the need to also create a training of trainers. Great Trainers Summit, a three-module training program, was completed this year.
New Financial Partners:
- In 2003, our first year, the ministry was funded by about $88,000 in gifts.
- In our 16th year, more than 85% of our $965,000 in charitable gifts went directly to the ministry of helping kids fall deeply in love with Jesus across North America and around the world.
- We have worked hard to maintain full membership in good standing with ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability).
Thank you for being a vital member of the KidZ at Heart global Christian community. While God has taken KidZ at Heart to places we never imagined, he has also shown his plans for growing us personally. We are deeply thankful that he has included us in the plan and that you, too, have journeyed with us.
Gordon & Becki West
Co-Founders / President & Senior VP