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West New York Spanish Children Bless Others Near and Far

Story by New Jersey Conference Staff
Published 9/24/12

Because she wanted the kids in India to have a church like the one at West New York, Abigail Doria donated all $186 from her piggy to build a church in India.

Some of the youngest members of New Jersey Conference’s West New York Spanish church in West New York, N.J., know Matthew 25:36 well. They not only know the verse, which says, “I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me,” they also live it. Over the past 10 months, the children have raised nearly $10,000 to help others at home and abroad.

The children’s mission-mindset can be traced back to around two years ago. This was when “we received a letter from the Dominican Republic,” recalls Alberto Portanova Jr., the church’s Children’s Ministries director. “It was around Christmas, and they were asking for help with toys for children. We asked the kids to help and they brought 100 new toys.”

This simple act of giving to others in need planted a seed in the hearts of the children of West New York Spanish church. From then on, they eagerly started giving what they had to others who needed it more. When they set out to raise $1,500 to build a church in India via Maranatha Volunteers International, Abigail Doria so wanted the kids in India to have a church like the one at West New York, that she donated the contents of her piggy bank as a gesture of love. It had $186, which she had been saving since birth. Over the past 10 months, the kids have donated money to build churches overseas, provide reading materials to blind kids, sent Bibles to Rwanda and food to Ghana. They have even collected personal items to drop off at a local women’s shelter.

Pedro Canales, the church’s pastor, says the children’s participation in fundraising, makes him hopeful. “Our kids are on fire,” he says. “They are seeing that they can help others and that’s great. With church, school and home working together we can have a better future for our children.”

Canales and Portonova have also seen how the children are inspiring their parents. The church has 125 members, many of whom are working class. “This is a special church. Our church is prosperous not because we have money but because we have big hearts,” Canales says.

When pressed further to ask what is inspiring the children to work so hard to give their own money or to actively fundraise, Portonova explains, “Our kids want to be like Jesus. That is why they are willing to give up things like McDonalds so they can give money to missionary projects. We do not entertain children but teach them that at a young age they can be missionaries like the children in the Bible.”

The children are now working with ADRA to help feed a grandmother in Kyrgystan.

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