By Janet Bresenham, Freedom New Mexico
Editor’s Note: The N.M. Baptist Children’s Home identifies the children who live there with only first names and last name initials to the media.
When Toni K. wants to share God’s love, she puts her hands and heart into her musical message.
The 15-year-old, 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.
“It’s about the message,” said Alexis W., 13, 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 travels to minister throughout the state.
“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 children’s home.
Moore said she remembers joining a similar ministry at her church when she was a young girl.
“White faces? White gloves? Sign language? Music and God? Wow! What a curious and interesting way God used to bring me closer to him,” Moore said. “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, NMBCH director of public relations, said the children’s home also has separate drama and choir groups available for ministry, as well as the new clown/mime troupe.
Special Mother’s Day Offering
Who: Baptist congregations throughout New Mexico
What: Dorothy Hubbard Mother’s Day Offering Goal = $85,000
Annual statewide fundraiser for N.M. Baptist Children’s Home in Portales
Where: New Mexico Baptist Children’s Home, P.O. Box 629, Portales, NM 88130
Why: The N.M. Baptist Children’s Home, which has been serving families since 1919, does not receive federal support. They need prayers and contributions.
How: The money raised helps the N.M. Baptist Children’s Home with its “Growing, Strengthening and Overcoming” ministry for children in need.
Information: Teresa Howard, NMBCH director of finance/public relations, 359-1254, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or: