Sami Ostendorp, the reading coordinator at University UMC shared this story:
One of the first people to register at University UMC was a young girl name Maria*. Her family was hesitant to send her to the program as they are practicing Muslims and were concerned about conflicting theologies that may arise during Bible time.
Her father spoke to staff at the church as well as in the PT office, and we all decided that during Bible time she would work as a special helper. Maria excelled in the program; she is an extremely gifted reader and a smart cookie. It was exciting to see her run to her dad at the end of each day and explain to him what we had done during each class.
Having Maria in class was also a great opportunity for the kids to talk about the different ways they and their families practice their faith and about religious diversity; she even shared a prayer with the class in her mother language. Towards the end of the program, her entire family attended our Family Fun Night and the folks at University UMC were able to share a meal with them and get to know them and really help them feel comfortable. By the end of the program I was told that her younger sibling had been enrolled in University’s daycare program. It was really awesome to connect the church with the community and the families we meet!
*Name changed to protect privacy