Stark’s Metro World Child makes a difference
LOUISVILLE − By doing a favor for a friend, Joann Macksyn has made it her mission to serve the most vulnerable children in the community.
Macksyn said she was introduced to Metro World Child when she traveled to New York to help out a friend who was producing a Christian TV show.
“She told me I could interview (gospel singer) Carman or Pastor Bill Wilson,” Macksyn said. “I flew to New York, met Pastor Bill, and fell in love with the mission. I’ve been a sponsor for 23 years.”
The non-denominational mission has an international reach, serving 256,000 children around the world and providing everything from food and shelter for orphans, to medical care and the world’s largest “sidewalk Sunday school”.
In New York, World Metro Child feeds approximately 28,000 children each week.
Other countries served include Canada, India, Pakistan, Kenya, Romania, Brazil, South Africa and Lebanon.
“We were in Afghanistan, but a lot of our missionaries were killed and they closed down,” Macksyn said.
Wilson, who founded Metro World Child in Brooklyn in 1980, was himself abandoned by his mother when he was 12 years old.
Macksyn said she was so inspired by Wilson that she opened the Stark County branch of Metro World Child in 2019. Locally, she and her team care for hundreds of local children by sharing the gospel as well than by providing food, clothing and encouragement.
Reverend Armone Provens is the Director of Urban Outreach for Metro World Child in Stark County.
Several days a week, Provens, his wife, Tameka, their daughter Taniyyah Kelly and the Reverend Isaac Pennymon lead a “street church”, mostly in the public housing neighborhoods of Canton, Massillon and Alliance using trucks equipped with a portable scene.
“We go out and we have a service for children,” he said. “We play games with the kids, we give Bible lessons. We give out prizes when they memorize a Bible verse.”
“Always keep climbing”
Kelly, the newest member of the team, said she always looks forward to meeting the kids.
“I see we are making a difference in their lives,” she said. “It was a great experience and it’s good to love what you do and to reach out to people in need because a lot of kids don’t understand that.”
Metro World Child is also hosting a “Saturday Church” service from 5-6 p.m., followed by dinner at Antioch Baptist Church at 142 Arlington Ave. NW.
The ministry also hosts nine special events a year, Macksyn said. They include dinners, gifts of outerwear, shoes. and school supplies, and parties.
“Last year we gave out over 1,500 toys for Christmas in partnership with The Salvation Army and Toys for Tots, and that was just in Stark County,” she said. “Our goal is to keep climbing. »
Macksyn donated $20,000 of her proceeds to help feed 9,000 children in Kenya, and an additional $22,000 per month to support World Metro Child Ohio.
“Basically, I started the agency to have the money to help people who wanted to be missionaries, but didn’t have the money to do it,” she said.
Provens joined Metro World Child after his own campaign, Fathers Against Violence, shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he was introduced to Macksyn by his wife after she started working at Alive Now Services, Macksyn’s home-based personal care agency in Louisville.
“She was like, ‘You must need to watch this video. This lady is awesome,” Provens recalled. “So she sent me the video, I watched it and I was like, ‘This is exactly what I’m doing. COVID had stopped us so there was really nothing I could do.
Macksyn called Provens and initially offered him a volunteer position, but after sending him a video of his ministry, he was invited for an interview and was hired and sent to New York for training.
“After that, it just took off,” he said.
The Provens, parents of a total of eight children, said most of those they serve have no prior experience with the church.
“When we started going there, (there was) not really too much attention,” said Tameka Provens. “But now they are eager to see us. They want to learn and they want to know more about God, which is beautiful for me. Some of them let us know that we are the only church they see. They don’t. I don’t learn anything about God other than us coming to these sites.”
Macksyn said need is God’s calling.
“Whatever God puts before us, we meet the need on that day,” she said.
Tameka Provens expressed deep concern about the lack of education of the children they serve.
“Half the kids we see don’t know their phone numbers, they don’t know how to spell their names,” she said. “And that was a large majority of the kids we see. It shocked me. When I was at school we had little cards, so you knew all of that. It makes me think that if something happened , you can’t even give someone your phone number and address.”
She and Macksyn share the hope that they will eventually be able to tutor their current awareness.
“A lot of parents just don’t know what’s going on,” Macksyn said.
Perrymon said he was shocked to learn that the local higher education rate was around 17%.
“It’s little,” he said. “That means they finish high school and don’t go to college, or they don’t finish high school and get into trouble.”
Pennymon said that when people in poverty need help, they often don’t ask for it out of pride.
“Not pride from the ‘I don’t want to ask’ point of view, but ‘What if I ask? What is the perception of my community and my friends? I don’t want to leave my life in somebody else’s hands,'” he said.
In addition to Antioch, Metro World Child also works in partnership with Hope Outreach, God-Given Church of God in Christ, the Total Living Center, Trinity Gospel Temple and Cathedral of Life.
Metro Child Ohio has also expanded to Akron and Cleveland, with plans for Columbus and Cincinnati.
“There are 80,000 children in Cleveland living in poverty,” Macksyn noted.
“I was one of those children”
Armone Provens said he received permission to go to some elementary schools in Canton, including Stephanie Rushin Patrick, Heritage Christian and Bright Academy.
“The ultimate goal is to have sponsors, that’s what they do around the world,” Macksyn said. “The goal is ultimately sponsorships to make the program itself effective and it will pay for the trucks and all that.”
Pennymon said he and Provens hope the idea will expand to “adopt a school, adopt a child,” as needed.
Macksyn said Metro World Child does not insist that a child convert to Christianity as a condition for receiving help.
“The goal is just love,” she said. “We’re in all these countries, they come but that doesn’t mean they’re all going to believe what we believe. They always have the right to believe whatever they want and they always come to our events. For example, we are in New York and there are large Jewish communities where we have sites, there are Muslims and Hindus who come to all of our sites.
Pennymon challenges anyone who cares to watch the children they serve.
“From where your child started before the program, to where they are now, have you seen any growth?” he said. “If I have to leave the faith to the children, that’s fine, and I agree, but can you discredit us for what we started, and what your child knows from the time before until now?”
Armone Provens said he met adults who were suspicious of their motives.
“My thing is, and I’ve said this before, I tell them, ‘You know, you’ve tried everything in the world. Just try God, once,'” he said. “When we stop at this site, when we get out of our vehicles, the children kiss us, they love us.”
Provens said they were recognized by children wherever they went, and added that some children also remember him from his former ministry, Fathers Against Violence.
“I see the parents, they’re amazed like, ‘My kids really love Metro,’ like, ‘These guys are really doing something for my kids.'” he said. “I’m like they have no choice but to acknowledge what’s going on. They can see it in their children…it touches my heart because I was one of those children. I ran through the streets. “
Provens became a Christian after serving 13 years in prison for reckless homicide and felony assault, the result of a life of crime and violence that began with his first arrest at age 11 despite having a mother who worked in the juvenile justice system. .
Provens said he knows World Metro Child is making a difference in children’s lives.
“For me to see the inspiration we give to children is a beautiful thing,” he said. “No parent, no one in the community can take that away. You can’t take reality away. Metro World Kids Ohio is making a difference in the lives of these kids, and they love it.”
Macksyn said society often sees too many people as hopeless.
“They’re not desperate,” she said. “They just need hope.”
For more information, contact Macksyn at 330-371-9876, or Provens at 330-871-4599 or 330-232-4054, or visit www.metroworldchild.org
Contact Charita at 330-580-8313 or [email protected]. On Twitter: @cgoshayREP