On most Tuesdays throughout the school year, starting around 2:00 p.m., the Bethel Elementary School cafeteria becomes home to Good News Club, a Bible club designed for first through fifth graders. Just before students arrive, fifteen volunteers from local churches including Rocky Creek Baptist, New Hope Baptist, and First Baptist of Mauldin prepare tables with name cards, snacks, and activity sheets and then gather into a tight circle to pray for the sixty-five or more children who attend the weekly event. Parents complete a parental permission form so that their children can be part of this club.
The sessions open informally with students completing various Bible activity sheets and reciting Bible verses under the loving guidance of the volunteers. A ratio of at least one volunteer to every seven students is maintained so that the children receive a lot of personal attention and encouragement. Barbara Smith, a retired first-grade teacher who taught at Bethel Elementary for 17 years, oversees the volunteers. She says that the school and the teaching profession have changed a lot and many of the people she once knew have left, but she loves this school and the students who attend there. Jill Meredith, retired teacher from Bryson Middle School, drives over 30 minutes each way just to serve in the program. When asked why, she simply says, “Because I can do it. God calls us to do what we can.” Good News Clubs need volunteers who want to share life-changing Biblical lessons with children. Volunteers must pass a background check in addition to having a personal relationship with Jesus. If you are interested in becoming involved, see https://cefgreenville.com.
The teacher for the Bethel Elementary Good News Club, Pastor Jeremy Bell, a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, has served as lead pastor at New Hope Baptist Church since May 2017. Married with four children of his own, Jeremy brings fun-filled, one-hour Bible lessons each week. His colorful lessons include review games, songs, stories about missionaries, and “word-up” hand motions to reinforce the teachings. The materials have been designed to engage a child’s interest while sharing Bible stories and surprisingly complex concepts about the Christian faith.
The Bethel Elementary Good News Club does not stand alone. Sponsored by local churches under the auspices of a parent organization, Child Evangelism Foundation or CEF, Good News Clubs can be found in nearly 300 of the 623 South Carolina public elementary schools. Approximately 4000 volunteers throughout South Carolina from 240 churches minister to over 26,000 children through this program each week. In the Greenville area alone, there are 89 after-school Good News Clubs and 17 such community ones meeting every week with almost 8000 children being involved in the process. Through Good News Clubs, children, some of whom may not be able to attend church regularly, can talk about and study Bible stories, particularly those relating to the Gospel message.♦