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A Clearwater Christian College club brings fun with its lessons.
By Demorris A. Lee, Times Staff Writer
Published February 26, 2008
[Atoyia Deans | Times]
CLEARWATER - The students gathered in front of Clearwater Christian College's gymnasium and formed a prayer circle.
They thanked God for the day and asked for his guidance and patience for the mission to come.
Then, they loaded into cars and headed to three areas of the city. One group went to North Greenwood Apartments, another to Mac Arthur Park apartments at Drew Street and U.S. 19, and another headed to Ross Norton park.
In North Greenwood, they knocked on doors.
"Wait a minute, I'm coming," a small voice chimed from behind a green door. A girl then popped out, giving Alyssa McLanahan, 20, a smile and a hug.
After walking through the complex and gathering the children, members of Clearwater Christian College's JOY Club Jesus, Others, You headed across Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue to an open field, where they played dodgeball with the youngsters. Then they sang Bible songs and told stories about the creation.
This Wednesday afternoon ritual has taken place for years. No one really can say how long the JOY Club has been coming to North Greenwood. But the community always seems glad to see them.
"We play football, my friends come, we talk about the Lord," said Adarius Lemons, 10. "It's fun."
Lemons then popped his hand in the air to answer the question of how many days it took God to create the Earth.
"Seven!" he yelled.
Clearwater Christian College sits on 50 acres of waterfront property on the Courtney Campbell causeway on the eastern edge of Clearwater. It opened its doors in September 1966. Today, the four-year, accredited liberal arts college has about 600 students. Part of the college experience is mission work.
The JOY Club was formed by students. The weekly community outings are voluntary. Each semester, members knock on every door of the North Greenwood apartment complex to see if children are there and to get permission from parents to see the children. There are about 20 regulars. At times, there can be as many as 40 children running, playing and singing Bible songs. The Mac Arthur Park group, which has a strong Hispanic base, is also doing well.
It's a way to give the neighborhood's children an opportunity for controlled play while trying to introduce the importance of a relationship with God, said Robert Edwards, a church ministries major who heads the Mac Arthur Park group.
James Moore, 21, is the leader of the North Greenwood group. The first 10 years of his life, he was raised in government housing. His parents moved him from one apartment or hotel room to the next. At 10, he was adopted.
"A lot of these kids have a persona of being tough," said Moore, a business student. "But they really just want to hang out. I know what it's like. This is not just something that we do. It's about the kids."
McLanahan, a sophomore majoring in elementary education, agreed.
"These kids are dying to be shown love and compassion," McLanahan said. "Through Jesus Christ and our personal testimony, we can show them that love."
After an hour of play, jokes and Bible stories, the children are given candy and more hugs.
"We learn a lot about Jesus," said Maryssa Artura, 10, munching on a lollipop. "It's fun."
Her cousin Tyiesha Mcaffee, 9, agreed. "I like it when they come," she said. "We learn stuff and it's just fun."
After walking the children back to their homes, the JOY Club members formed another circle. They said a prayer and headed back to campus.
Demorris A. Lee can be reached at email@example.com or 445-4174.
[Last modified February 25, 2008, 21:40:34]