Grand Prairie church tutors students, for Jesus’ sake

GRAND PRAIRIE—Sometimes the mission field is closer than you think. Maybe it’s right next door. That’s what South Park Baptist Church in Grand Prairie realized when looking at South Grand Prairie High School, a stone’s toss away—literally.

“The pastor and I began talking,” said Henry Loftin, director of Glowing Heart Ministries. “I said, ‘We’ve got to reach this school.’ God has put us 20 feet from the property of a 4,000-student high school.”

As a result, South Park, in cooperation with Glowing Heart Ministries, has found a way to reach out to middle- and high-school students with an after-school tutoring program that serves as a springboard for the gospel.

For the past three years, the tutoring ministry has met three nights a week after school.

“The church provides the facility,” said Pastor Randy Capote. “Glowing Hearts provides leadership and tutors and some of our church members also work as tutors. It’s a little unusual, but I like unusual.”

The program is designed mainly for secondary school students and is also geared toward involving them in the life of the church. 

“It became a symbiotic relationship,” Loftin said. “We’re responsible for Wednesdays and daily program services, but count on the church to have Sunday structure for them.”

To kickoff this outreach, South Park sponsors a yearly teacher appreciation luncheon for the teachers at South Grand Prairie High School during teacher in-service before school starts in the fall. 

“We introduced what we were doing and that we are providing an atmosphere that is going to be wholesome and healthy and we also are providing tutoring in math, science, English and history,” Loftin said. The first teacher appreciation lunch drew about 60 teachers. A year later, the second luncheon saw 135 teachers attend.

Loftin said teachers have gotten on board with the program. “Some teachers next door are giving kids a 100 daily grade for coming over here—an extra incentive for getting tutoring.”

“We’ve exposed ourselves and gained trust with the teachers,” Capote said. “They encourage the kids to come over.”

Tutors for the program come from many different sources, Loftin said. Some are retired teachers while others come from Dallas Baptist University.

“We try to get college students because they connect so well with the students and see that you can be young, enjoy learning and be good at your subject.”

Loftin also believes the tutors’ willingness to share their faith is vital.  

“Testimony is important because after tutoring they can say ‘Can I pray with you and ask God to help you retain the things we talked about?’ It’s one step toward the kingdom that they’re not going to be doing next door.”

In addition to the tutoring, the program sponsors a Wednesday night youth worship service and cook-out that averages about 100 students each week. Students who come to tutoring are not required to attend the Wednesday activities, but the option is open to them. 

“We don’t require that kids stay,” Loftin said. “We want to begin to plant the truth in their hearts. About 90 percent of the kids who come over here are unchurched—in a lot of ways unfamiliar with Christian living.”

South Park is seeing a response to the tutoring and Wednesday night outreach programs. “We’ve seen 30 come to Christ this semester,” Loftin said. “We baptized three on Wednesday night during the youth service so that we could describe the purpose and meaning of baptism, showing a step of obedience that shows your allegiance to Christ.”

“We’ve added at least one really solid family as a result. The parents came to the Lord and are now plugged into the church,” Capote said.

Capote is excited about how the Lord is using the program to reach kids for Christ.

“This has been a good partnership between us, Glowing Hearts, and the school district.”

Stephanie Heading
Most Read

Jesus film entirely in sign language is historic first for Deaf community

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (BP)—When Joseph Josselyn of “Jesus: A Deaf Missions Film” lost his hearing as a toddler, life became “a little painful at times” as he grew, accepted Jesus and worshipped God in the hearing …

Stay informed on the news that matters most.

Stay connected to quality news affecting the lives of southern baptists in Texas and worldwide. Get Texan news delivered straight to your home and digital device.