International Women's Day: Steph Limmer on empowering tamariki and whanau
Steph Limmer is a young Salvationist who loves to see tamariki (children) and whanau (families) empowered to meet Jesus and connect with one another. During lockdown, Steph found new ways to meet the challenge of engaging children, creating stories and connecting others with God. Listen as Steph talks about the ways God blessed her and her ministry, as this bright young woman kept working hard in creative ways to bring joy.
We invite you to download and share this and our other International Women's Day testimonies with your community (link below). The following is a transcript from the video:
Kia ora koutou, my name is Steph Limmer.
I am the Children's and Families Ministries Coordinator here at Hamilton City Salvation Army in New Zealand.
When COVID first hit New Zealand, things happened pretty quickly. We were moving up alert levels each day preparing for lockdown. Firstly, our churches had to close and then all the programs I am responsible for had to be stopped and then slowly all the shops started shutting.
Steph's COVID innovations:
We had to adapt pretty quickly. Within a couple of hours, I had to come up with how I could engage and empower with whanau and tamariki who are connected in with the Hamilton Salvation Army. So of course the first thing I think of was Kmart! So just like every other Kiwi I head to Kmart to buy all the supplies that I can - from colouring books, colouring pencils and pens, craft activities, goodies and as many lollies as I can get my hands on!
Once we were in lockdown, each week was pretty crazy and brought on some new challenges.
Children's Packs: Once a week I would put together sixty kids packs for our tamariki connected with our Corps. Each pack was filled with everything that I was able to buy at Kmart, plus as many more things as I could find lying around my office. It would then take me four and a half hours to drive around the whole of Hamilton, delivering these packs to each child. After a week, I realised I was missing something; the chance to encourage and empower all our tamariki and whanau.
Facebook Communities: So I decided to create some Facebook pages for all our programs. This was a place where people could connect and could encourage one another, with God at the centre of all we did. This was a huge success! Each day I set challenges for whanau to do together and prizes for the winners. There was also many embarrassing videos of myself going up on these Facebook pages, just to provide the tamariki some good laughs over such a challenging time.
Easter Story: I had to come up with a creative way to tell the Easter story. So luckily my family was willing to step in and help create a fun exciting video for all our tamariki and whanau to have a good laugh with.
Video teaching: Every Sunday morning, I was posting lessons for our tamariki so that they were hearing the word of God. This was equipping them on their own personal journeys as well. This empowered so many of our families in such an uncertain time.
Serving at Foodbank: I was also supporting our Foodbank during the day to hand out food parcels - so the longer we were in lockdown, the bigger the need became in our community.
Community children's packs: As this is all happening, it left me wondering - ‘What can I do to encourage and equip the whanau and our community?’ So here I am thinking that it can't be that hard to put together a few more kids packs. Well, was I wrong! Five nights a week, I was putting together these kids packs. My lounge was overtaken by all these supplies - that you could no longer see my floor.
Even though this has been one of the most challenging things I've ever faced in ministry, I know God has used me as his vessel - equipping me with everything I’ve needed to support many whanau and tamariki during such a challenging time.
God blessed our church in so many amazing ways. Over this time, our children's ministry grew bigger and we reached so many more tamariki with the love of God.
We're celebrating International Women's Day by sharing women's testimonies of leadership during COVID in New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Territory. We will be releasing new videos daily, and joining a worldwide video montage on The Salvation Army International Social Justice Commission's Facebook Page on March 8th. We invite you to share and view these stories with your community, to amplify their voices!
- CHECK OUT the other Salvationist Stories here (updated daily)
- VIEW the videos on Youtube (captions available)
- VIEW and SHARE from our Facebook Page
- DOWNLOAD the video files from OneDrive