Where It All Began: Our Faith Journey
Where It Started … and Where it’s Going
by Donna Bridge, President/CEO
Photo right: Donna pictured with her husband Doug
While teaching at Belleville Mennonite School in 1996, the idea of puppets was opened to me through a close friend who had retired from teaching, but continued to work with children. She was my Naomi (Book of Ruth), my mentor. Often she would come into the classroom with her puppets and share a Bible story or point with the children. As she left, my Naomi would encourage me to use puppets also.
It wasn’t until after I left teaching and traveled as a children’s evangelist that I began to talk to the LORD about this creative instrument of sharing HIS love and HIS WORD with children of all ages. In the Fall of 2000 as I was having my quiet time with the LORD, it was as though HE spoke to my heart and said, “It’s time to start a puppet ministry.” As usual I was ready with my excuses and told the LORD that I didn’t know anything about puppets, let alone a puppet ministry. His reply was, “I know you don’t, but if you keep your eyes on me, I’ll show you how to do puppet ministry.”
Wanting to please my LORD, I prayed and waited and then in December 2000 HE gave me the idea of the congregation adopting puppets and giving them to begin a puppet ministry. That’s how it all started! Then a member of the congregation started bringing animal puppets to me that she purchased at yard sales. Books began to appear in the mail about puppets and I knew the LORD was taking me on a journey I couldn’t possibly go by myself. I would have to take a step of faith and follow HIM.
The name KINGDOM KIDS PUPPET MINISTRY was chosen because the puppet ministry would be reaching children of all ages. From the youngest to the oldest, the LORD would reach hearts for HIM.
Several months later, this woman died and her family’s desire was to have gifts given to the KINGDOM KIDS PUPPET MINISTRY. With these gifts we were able to purchase the necessary accessories and other puppets, which would start the ministry on its way. As I shared what the LORD was doing, HE was touching hearts and 5 people came forth to begin the ministry. There we were with a little make shift stage, curtains, a few puppets, a few props and a tape player. Our first presentation was at a BLOCK PARTY on the parking lot of our church.
Two years later, the team had grown to 15 and we were attending our first puppet festival. We were awed by the black light puppets and their appearance. Upon returning to St. Andrew’s, we had a team meeting and began to pray about where God was taking HIS ministry. It was so obvious that we were to go outside the walls of the church and take the GOSPEL to others. God was showing us that we were about to begin a faith journey that would require much prayer and keeping our eyes on HIM.
Within 6 months the LORD led us to the American Lung Association where we received a grant to purchase black light puppets and technical equipment. With this blessing we were able to go into schools and present the program, “THINK- before you start.” The team was awed by what God had done.
As the team grew in numbers and presentations, so did the equipment. We outgrew the pickup trucks and then the trailer. We began to pray for a bigger trailer and nothing happened. Then the LORD laid it on the heart of one of the members of the congregation to give us a truck. When the team saw the truck, again they knew that GOD was in control and was blessing them for their faithfulness to HIM.
Realizing that the puppet ministry wasn’t about puppets, but rather a relationship and faith journey with the LORD, I knew there needed to be some discipling. This was affirmed at the puppet festival we attended the following year. One of the first Biblical teachings to be presented was TITHING. It was decided that we would tithe 100% of whatever God gave us back to St. Andrew’s UMC for HIS work. We would not charge for any presentation. We would go where HE called us to go. And we learned that the LORD would meet ALL our needs – financial, spiritual, and the number of people we needed for each presentation. God was increasing our faith.
About the same time, we realized that our space at the church had reached its limits. Again we prayed and asked the LORD to show us what we were to do. The result was a room, which was designed with a stage and small city for the Children’s church and practice each week. God continued to increase our faith.
With the price of gas and the use of team vehicles, we began to pray for the answer to our transportation needs. The LORD’S answer was a bus. Again we knew we would trust the LORD to provide what HE wanted. Many months went by and many buses were previewed until one day, the LORD showed us the bus. Everything was in order made ready for purchase. However, an obstacle was ahead and how would we respond? In faith and love the team decided to continue to tithe and also give an extra 5%(for a project at the church) of what was given to us back to the church. In only 8 months the LORD would supply the necessary monies to purchase a bus. So the team would wait for the LORD to bring another bus to HIS ministry. God continued to increase our faith.
“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the LORD helped us.'” (1 Samuel 7:12) Where are we on our faith journey today? We are raising our Ebenezer and saying, “LORD, help us on this journey.” And the LORD replies, “I AM.”