Huntington University senior Rachel Byrd is experiencing a new side of life.
A senior family and children’s ministries major, Byrd is working this semester in Paramount, Calif., and the westside of Compton.
“There are a lot of hurting people in these towns who have some pretty bad lives,” said Byrd, a native of Logansport, Ind. “As a church, we try very hard to reach their needs.”
Byrd plays with children in a church preschool class.
A unique part of the Huntington University Educational Ministries program is the PRIME experience, or Practical Research and Immersion through Ministry Effectiveness. PRIME places seniors into field ministry settings for seven months, typically from May to December.
Byrd is in charge of a once-a-week program called Kids Klub. The night starts with a small worship band followed by a big group lesson. Then the children break up into small groups and do crafts and games. Approximately 150 to 175 children come for Kids Klub.
Byrd also serves as a teacher for an afterschool program called Say Yes, held at the church. For the first hour, the children do their homework, and Byrd is there to help them if they have problems or questions. In the second hour, the children read books and play outside.
“Our main goal is for the kids to come and have a safe place to be after school instead of on the streets,” Byrd said. “Too many young kids end up at the wrong place at the wrong time in our town, so if we have them in our church for two hours, that makes us happy.”
Not only has the PRIME benefited the children Byrd serves, but she also has found value in the experience for herself and her future ministry.
“Overall, PRIME has taught me more than I ever thought it could,” she said. “Not only have I learned how to do ministry, but I have learned a lot of relational skills.”