Hope Amidst Hardship

For 12 years, Carlton Carty knew only intense poverty and suffering. Now, thanks to an Awana program in central Jamaica, he knows Jesus as Savior.

The first time they met, Carlton Carty made an immediate impression on Brad Rostad—but not exactly a good one.

"He was ill-mannered and rough," said the pastor of Cornerstone Church and director of Cornerstone Mission in Mandeville, Jamaica. "Because of their home situation—lack of home training and very little care—the children are known to be poorly behaved."

Life-changing invitation
Fortunately, Pastor Brad saw Carlton for who he is, a child Jesus died for, and invited him to Cornerstone’s new Awana program. Carlton lives a few miles from Cornerstone, but the church mini-bus picked him up for club along with other unchurched children.

Carlton enjoyed Awana so much that he began bringing his brother and three sisters. A few months later, he accepted Christ as Savior during a Council Time message. Three of his siblings trusted Jesus soon after.

Carlton’s life hasn’t been the same since.

"We have seen significant changes in him," Pastor Brad said. "Now he wants to do the right thing. Before he not only lacked the ‘power’ to do the right thing—he really didn't know what it was. For example, now he knows God is not pleased with lying and he doesn't want to do it anymore. He is much more amiable and seems to have a real tender spot in his heart. He usually responds positively to discussions about the Lord. He seeks to be helpful wherever he can."

Unrelenting poverty
Carlton’s transformation belies a childhood mired in such deep poverty that the family literally survives day by day. The Cartys lives in a house hand-built from zinc-coated scrap metal that’s roughly the size of a bedroom in most U.S. households. Situated atop mountainous terrain in Williamsfield, a small village in central Jamaica, it has a dirt floor, no electricity or running water and an outdoor bathtub filled with water gathered from rainstorms. Reaching the house requires hiking a steep, rocky mile-long trail.

The home is adjacent to a small plot of land that Carlton’s father farms Stone Age style using a hoe and machete. The potatoes, yams, bananas and sugar cane he grows provide nearly all the family’s sustenance.

The Carty’s income – Mrs. Carty cleans homes and Mr. Carty performs odd jobs – is typically $40 U.S. a month. Carlton can’t afford to travel to school more than two or three days a week, and the family usually eats one meal a day. Most Saturdays Carlton and his siblings arrive at Awana at 4 p.m. without yet having eaten. (The church helps as it can, but most members are also destitute. Pastor Brad owns the only car in the congregation.) This explains Carlton’s height – 4 feet 8 – at age 13.

Carlton has never set foot in a restaurant, owns no personal possessions besides a Bible, and he and his siblings rarely go to a nearby church because they own little clothing. ("They would be ashamed to attend a service," Pastor Brad said.) Mr. Carty allows his children to participate in Awana but rejects Christ as a member of the Rastafarian cult.

Lack of education is another hindrance to Carlton’s future. Jamaica’s public school system is too costly for kids in extreme poverty to attend high school. At age 14, he will have to help his family financially through any unskilled labor jobs he can find.

Carlton Carty with Awana leader Hope in Jesus
In the midst of such hopelessness, Carlton has found hope in Christ through Awana and Cornerstone Mission, which features sports and educational programs and other forms of outreach with the goal of evangelizing, discipling and educating kids in this deprived region. In spite of illiteracy, Carlton is on pace to complete his Torch handbook thanks to his leaders’ tutoring and his new determination to learn.

"We learn the verses one word at a time," said Vashtila Wilson. "We have to explain the meaning of some words in the verses and give him examples. We teach him how to read and remember and how to think about what the verse means."

"When you point to small words now, he can recognize them. He has come a long way," said Garfield Williams, a Torch leader and church youth minister who led Carlton to salvation. "His interest in handbooks increased when he accepted Christ."

'I go to Awana to praise the Lord'
Like many other kids in this area, Carlton’s daily life remains a struggle unfathomable to most Americans. But now he has hope in the form of a Savior who is always with him, a mansion awaiting him in heaven and a refuge called Awana where he is loved. "I go to Awana to praise the Lord," Carlton said. "Brother Garfield helped me accept Jesus there." 


It’s Amazing
What God
Has Done

Otto Melby was a carefree 13-year-old from a loving Christian family in Chicago when an unexpected event rocked his world.

When his father passed away in 1949, Otto struggled profoundly with the loss. His mother became deeply concerned as she watched her son grow increasingly confused and angry with God and those around him. It was clear to her that he needed a male mentor to fill the void left by his dad’s death.

Read More

Using Her Gifts to Serve Others in Full-Time Ministry and Awana

A few months ago, Mandy Hornbuckle’s box of Awana memories tumbled out the back of a truck going 60 miles per hour down a Texas highway. The box contained old Awana uniforms, pins and her Citation Award, the highest achievement in Awana.Mandy Hornbuckle earned the Citation Award for learning Scripture verses and truths

As the box hit the pavement, the contents scattered all along the road.

Read More


Celebrating 50-Plus Years of Faithful Awana Service

Gwendetta Albright’s 50-plus years of faithful Awana service at a church in Chicago has changed lives in hundreds of families

Gwendetta Albright grew up on the west side of Chicago. She trusted Christ for salvation at a summer camp at age 13. She then started serving as an Awana leader two years later in 1958.

Read More

First Family Church: Using Awana to Reach Kids and Parents for Christ

A few years ago, Roger Stuart’s life changed dramatically. He trusted Christ for salvation through the ministry of First Family Church in Overland Park, Kansas.The Sparks children's ministry club at First Family Church in Overland Park, Kansas

“I came to First Family Church in hopes of finding a great children's ministry for my daughter,” Roger said. “I was more concerned with her spiritual growth than my own. But listening to my pastor preach, I felt like he wasn't talking to a congregation of 2,000; he was talking to me and my own personal struggles.

Read More


Hope Amidst Hardship

For 12 years, Carlton Carty knew only intense poverty and suffering. Now, thanks to an Awana program in central Jamaica, he knows Jesus as Savior.

The first time they met, Carlton Carty made an immediate impression on Brad Rostad—but not exactly a good one.

Read More


An Oasis
of Hope

The Awana program at the only evangelical church in Gaza is extending God’s love, truth and grace to kids and families in this volatile region.

Thursday and Friday afternoons, a haggard bus drives a circuit through garbage-strewn neighborhoods in one of the world’s most volatile and densely inhabited areas of the world, where half of the population is under age 15.

Read More

31 Years of Service Brings Generations to Lasting Faith in Christ

If you’re ever looking for someone from the Wallace family, there’s a good chance you’ll find them at Harvest Bible Chapel in Lake Zurich, Illinois on Monday nights.

Every Monday starting at 5:30 p.m., four generations of Wallace family members serve in Awana. Bob, age 85, and Lucille, 82, along with their daughter Diane and granddaughter Jill, are faithful leaders in the Sparks (kindergarten through second grade) and T&T (third to sixth grade) clubs. A great-grandson, Brayden, is only 1 and stays in the nursery but is certain to someday be in Puggles (for 2- and 3-year-olds).

Read More


The Model Awana Leader

Jim Barker was facing a dim future when his aunt brought him out of the backwoods of Tennessee to live in Chicago during the Great Depression.

Jim resided in one of the poorest sections of the city. He was painfully shy. He had a meager educational background. He wasn't good at sports. His Southern accent made him a target for insults. He didn't own a car and rarely had money in his pocket.

Read More


Baseball Continues To Be a Tool to Proclaim the Gospel

Alvin Davis has hit his share of home runs over the years. As first baseman for the Seattle Mariners from 1984 to 1991, Alvin racked up 160 home runs and batted .280 in 1,206 games. He homered in his first two big-league games and once belted a grand slam with both Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. on base. Alvin Davis played eight seasons and made the All-Star team with the Seattle Mariners

Alvin was named 1984 American League Rookie of the Year and was also selected that year for the All-Star Game. He was the first inductee into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame in 1997.

Read More

Committed
to Awana and Helping Their Own Kids Develop Lasting Faith

You may know what it’s like to get one or two kids ready for Awana and to church on time. But can you imagine getting six kids organized and out the door?

The Pilgrim family lives in Huntsville, Alabama, and all six children participate in Awana at Whitesburg Baptist Church every Sunday night:

Read More


Building a Worldwide Kids’ Ministry From the Ground up

Art Rorheim is co-founder of Awana. Art built Awana from the ground up from its early days as a weekly club program at the North Side Gospel Center in Chicago.

Art was introduced to youth and children’s ministry in 1935 at age 17 when Lance Latham, his church’s pastor, asked him to serve as a club leader at the North Side Gospel Center.

Read More

Leading Awana to Influence Generations of Kids to Follow Christ

Since 1999, Jack Eggar has served as President/CEO of Awana. He has provided strategic leadership for the ministry’s efforts to equip churches and parents in raising children and youth to know, love and serve Christ. Under his guidance, Awana has expanded its impact from a total of 9,000 churches around the world in 1998 to over 22,000 as of 2011.

Knowing that parents are the key influencers in their children’s spiritual development, Jack invested vision and passion to give direction for the recent launch of the Modern-Day Joseph and Awana at Home initiatives.

Read More