As I walked out to my car after a long day of teaching, I saw a sight that changed my life for the next two years. It was a February evening in 2017 and I one of my students at the time, my sweet and very tall Bella, was shooting hoops on my school’s playground with her older brother and two boys who were bad news. Bella had joined my class earlier in the year when she, her dad and brother moved to our district to live with their grandpa; her second school that year. Soon after her move Bella told me that her mom had died. As I put the pieces of the story together, I learned that her mom died when Bella was young, most likely from a drug overdose. Although her story was not unusual in my school, it still broke my heart. She had grabbed a hold of my heart and wouldn’t let go. As the February wind blew my hair into my face, I cried out to God, “I wish there was a way I could be involved in her life after this school year!” This precious girl needed a mother in her life, and although I knew I could never fill that void, I desperately wanted to teach her about my Jesus who could start healing that wound and bring restoration to her broken world.
In that silence, Christ spoke: “Autumn, you’re leading SMM next year.” And for one of the first times in my life, I simply replied, “Yes, Lord.”
A friend of mine had started up an SMM club as an after-school girl’s ministry at our public elementary school the previous year, and was praying for a replacement because the Lord was moving her to another country. For months, I had prayed about whether I should take her place leading SMM or if I should serve in a ministry at my local church. This was my answer. I wanted to share the gospel with my students, but because I was not legally allowed to during the instructional day, I knew that it would be out of place in the general classroom setting. Through SMM, I would be able to share the gospel with my students after school, and God could give me the opportunity to share Him with Bella.
Fast forward two years. At our end of the year SMM party this spring, I was able to snag a picture with Bella and another former student before they raced off to chat with their friends. Little did I know in that silent moment in February of 2017 what God would do through SMM. There are numerous stories of God working in girls’ lives, of salvation decisions, and of discipleship happening between older women and these elementary-aged girls, all at my public elementary school. God has been so gracious in the fruit he has brought from this ministry, and not because of anything that I or any of the leaders have done. He simply worked when I chose to still my heart to listen and then willingly follow.
SMM--Sisters Mentoring with a Mission--is an organization whose focus has been discipleship of young girls for over 100 years. Although it has been a church-based ministry for many years, some clubs are starting to branch out into an after-school setting at public schools in order to reach girls who might not otherwise hear the gospel. If you are interested in starting up a club in a local elementary school near you, please contact Nicole Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit SMM’s website at http://www.smmnational.org/.