Brian: I can’t remember exactly how many years ago we started. I guess it was before kids, wasn’t it?”
Gina: “Right, just before our oldest was born 15 years ago, probably.
We are on the third round of children we have watched grow over several years. This last group wasn't in our plan. We just agreed to ‘fill in when needed’ two and a half years ago, but God sent us a sweet little girl who let me rock her for 30 minutes every Sunday, another precious girl who cried her heart out for weeks until she finally got comfortable with us, an adorable little boy who cracks us up on a weekly basis with his personality, twins—a princess and a knight in shining armor—and many more, each and every one with a special place in our hearts. We were, and are hooked!
When we first began serving, we realized how important it was for the little ones with separation anxiety, and sometimes more so for their parents, to see the same faces week after week. We loved being able to get to know the kids and their families as we moved up with them from diapers and learning to walk, through potty training and on to Kindergarten.
What we’ve generally done is go with them up until age five and then go back down. Not intentionally really, that’s just what’s happened. It’s fun to see them grow up and it’s really nice when they get out of diapers. Ya know, get a break from diapers for a while.”
B: “And it’s nice to carry over with them year after year and stay with the same group of kids so they can see you multiple seasons, multiple years, and grade levels going up.
And we have taken some breaks along the way. So we served before we had our own kids and then took a little break and then started back when our oldest was, I guess, two or three-ish, and stayed with his age until he was probably five and then took another break when our second child came along.
So a lot of our breaks were just natural with our own kids. Our oldest turned five and he was moving up to first grade and then we had a two-year-old so it was natural just to fall back and kind of start back with the 2’s.”
G: “And while the breaks were good for us, we would miss serving during those times too. When we would take a break, we would kind of feel lost like we weren’t in our place so I think that was God drawing us back. We’ve even tried serving in other age groups before but we missed Preschool so it’s just kind of been where God’s called us back to time after time.”
B: “And just knowing that there’s always a need in Preschool has also encouraged us to keep coming back to serve. At one point we would drop off our kids and would see maybe a different teacher every week or every other week and so we knew that there was a need.
And serving in Preschool is more than just babysitting. The kids do learn and they do listen even though sometimes you may not think they are. They do pick up on the Bible stories we tell every week and the verses that they memorize. Whenever you ask questions from the previous week they always chime in and answer the questions.
In some ages you have just the leaders doing the teaching and some you have the large group and so you get two different angles, two different people teaching, and the kids comprehend and learn it more so than we probably give them credit for. I love teaching them and seeing them pick up on the details of the Bible stories week after week.”
G: “We love that parents can feel at peace leaving their kids with us and go and be refreshed in worship knowing that their little ones will be loved. We have many long lasting friendships with parents we have met through our time in Preschool ministry.
One of my best friends to this day, I met her because I was keeping her son in Preschool. The parents start to trust you with their kid so when parents see that you love their child, then that makes them feel like they’re in a safe environment and they can go and worship freely and not worry.
It’s always great when the kid doesn’t want to leave too. Especially the ones that are real hesitant in the beginning. When you finally get to that point when they don’t want to leave, the parents are very happy about that.
But the leadership here makes it so easy for us. Everything runs very smoothly. We feel very supported. And it just makes it easy to come week after week to be ready to just build relationships with the kids. We’re not so focused on doing menial tasks. We can come in and focus on building relationships with the kids and the parents every week in a relaxed way.
And it has always been good to do this together. I mean, we have really busy lives and the fact that we have this one thing that we do together every week is really good for us. Our schedule’s crazy so it’s pretty cool that we can both be in the same room, at the same time, working toward the same goal.
The Preschool Ministry at Brook Hills is amazing. We are very privileged to serve alongside them. It’s more of blessing for us than it is for anybody else. We started thinking we were doing this to help other people but we wind up being blessed by it. Our prayer for our kids is based on Luke 2:52, that each would grow in wisdom and in knowledge and in favor with God and man.
We just love all those kids. Little Caroline got her verse today. She’s so shy and didn’t want to say her verses so she earned her tote bag. So that’s a big day when you earn that red tote bag!
God led Brian and Gina Akin to Brook Hills in 1999. They have three children: Weston (14), Karis (12), and EJ (5). Brian works as a Account Manager with a manufacturing company and volunteers as a baseball coach for Evangel Christian School. Gina is a chauffeur and homeschool mom for the kids and enjoys her work as a travel planner. As a family, the Akins love supporting their kids in their chosen sports (Baseball, basketball, gymnastics, and soccer have all been on our calendar in the past 6 months!), traveling together every chance they get and competing to beat the Masons on the Fitbit leaderboard.
If you are willing to be 1 of the 250 leaders it takes to shepherd our 700+ preschoolers, then visit brookhills.org/preschoolvolunteer to see how you can get involved.