MOPS, Mums and Mentors

Linda Grigg for the LYN network

28 March 2010

MOPS, Mums and Mentors

 

mops1.jpgOf all the life transitions an adult goes through, surely becoming a parent must be one of the most impacting. Holding your beautiful new child in your arms, you begin to wonder at the perfection of a baby. The realisation that you are now responsible for this vulnerable young human causes you to think deeply about life, and perhaps even to re-evaluate your values.

For all the wonder, it can be a scary time, especially if the new parents live a long way from extended family or other support bases. And for young mums with no adult company at home during the day, motherhood can be isolating. It is a crucial ministry time, and fortunately, international organisation MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers) is helping churches and para-church groups to befriend and mentor mothers of young children.  

There are 18 MOPS groups in New Zealand, from Northland to Canterbury, and churches run all but one of these. Although many of the women who attend MOPS groups are Christians, the groups are open to any mother of preschoolers.

Leadership of the groups is generally made up of the mothers themselves. However each group has at least one Christian female mentor, an older woman that plays the role described in the New Testament book of Titus.  
 
Leadership skills and personal development seem to be a natural by-product of being involved with MOPs. Take Sarah Vaz for example. Sarah, who began her association with the organisation as a MOPS mum almost seven years ago, became General Manager of MOPS New Zealand at the end of June 2009.
 
mops2.jpg“I attended a MOPS group for about a year and then the role of treasurer came up.   I thought, I've sort of got accounting skills, and so took that on,” says Sarah.
 
She spent almost a year as treasurer, and then became the coordinator of the group. Although a practising Christian, until that time she hadn't connected into a local church after returning to New Zealand from overseas travel.

“I got back involved in the church, and at the end of the year when the coordinator of the group stepped down, I just really felt it was something I was passionate about and that God was asking me to do. I was absolutely scared stiff about taking the role on. I thought 'How could I do that?' But with the support from MOPS New Zealand there were people you could call on to help, and there was training they provided as well, which gave you a place to start,” says Sarah.
 
However, it is not just confidence and maturity that women gain from being involved. Many women have come to faith through their participation in MOPS.
 
“They might connect into MOPS and then go to an Alpha course or something like that. Or they might start going to the church because of it. It's kind of that first connection, especially where people might be searching but they don't really want anything that is going to preach at them. It's a real place that churches can minister,” says Sarah .
 
Angie Davidson agrees. A former MOPS group member in her native USA, Angie joined a Waikato group when she moved into the region. It was a good way to meet other women.
 
“It's great to have connections and meet up with friends, but I guess for me I see it as a ministry as well. It seems like when you have preschool kids, and especially newborn kids, that's a time when mums are kind of open to church. If they want to teach their children good values and morals, they see the church as an open door,” says Angie.

mops4.jpg“It seems fun to get involved in because you've got someone watching your kids and you get to have morning tea and a chat, and do stuff like that. So it's a very non-threatening way to invite people to church. For the Christian mums already there, it's a great way to learn how to grow in your walk and to serve, and to grow in leadership skills.”

“I think in some ways, you have your high school and university years where there is a big open field of people that are hungry and open to hearing the gospel. And I think another huge time in people's lives is when they have kids. They're open to coming to church and hearing the gospel and things like that. I just find it an amazing ministry, and definitely needed.”
 
To find out more about MOPS go to www.mops.org.nz