Children share God’s love through signs, song

Courtesty photo Members of the New Mexico Baptist Children’s Home Clown/Mime Troupe prepare for a recent ministry event. The troupe is available for ministry opportunities at churches, schools and other locations.

By Janet Bresenham: Freedom New Mexico

Editor’s note: The last names of children and teenagers in this story were not disclosed for privacy reasons.

When Toni K. wants to share God’s love, she puts her hands and heart into her musical message.

The ninth-grade student is a member of a new clown/mime ministry troupe made up of about a dozen children and teenagers who live at the New Mexico Baptist Children’s Home in Portales.

“With me, I’m kind of shy, but when I put on the mime makeup, it’s good because no one knows it’s you,” Toni K. said. “So it’s like this isn’t my face up there, it’s God’s face. I really, really love music, too, but I don’t sing, so when I sign and act out the songs, that’s my way of singing.”

Using a combination of sign language gestures, dramatic interpretive movements and passionate emotion, the young people communicate God’s messages set to various Christian worship songs, such as “I Can Only Imagine,” “Grace Like Rain,” “Hear O Israel,” “Set Free” and “How Great Is Our God.”

“It’s about the message,” said Alexis W., who is in the seventh grade. “Like when we do ‘In Christ Alone,’ we tell the story — with our hands and our movements and our emotions — of how Jesus was born, how he lived, how he was crucified and resurrected. It’s one thing to hear a song, but seeing it interpreted like that is very powerful.”

Dressed in big white hats, white gloves, white socks, white face paint, black slacks and black and white tuxedo-style, long-sleeved shirts, the group of young people range in age from 7 to 16.

Members of the older group call themselves “Fire Fighters” because they are “fighting back the fires of hell” by sharing God’s message of love and forgiveness, Toni K. said.

The younger group, known as the “Silent Knights,” are “warriors of God, but they don’t speak with their words; they speak with their hands,” she said.

“Clowning is about more than makeup, more than the signs, more than songs,” Alexis W. said. “It’s about what you feel. You’re putting your own emotions and passions into your interpretation of the songs.”

The clown/mime troupe ministers throughout the state, with events planned this weekend at Monterrey Baptist Church in Albuquerque and recent events in Lordsburg and Corona.

“Clowning is a way for you to really get in touch with God,” Toni K. said. “It’s also a really good way to witness to other people and share God’s love.”

They hope to minister in more churches, schools, parks and other locations, said Frances Moore, director of the clown/mime ministry and one of the houseparents at the N.M. Baptist Children’s Home.

Moore said she remembers joining a similar ministry at her church when she was a young girl.

“Being an unnoticed, shy girl, I immediately thrived in this new-found way of worship and ministry,” Moore recalled. “Little did I know that God would use what I was taught over 20 years ago to again reach shy, hurting children today.”

Teresa Howard, director of public relations for the N.M. Baptist Children’s Home, said the home has separate drama and choir groups available for ministry, as well as the new clown/mime troupe.