OAK GROVE, AR (KAIT) - – Life can be so tough when you’re a kid. Add bullying at school and it can be almost unbearable. That’s why the next winner in the Gr8 Acts of Kindness decided to give children skills and knowledge for the REAL world.
“Jesus loves me this I know...” The familiar song is strained just a bit as adults and children are running around a gymnasium as they sing it. It’s Sunday night at First Baptist Church of Oak Grove Heights.
“Let’s talk about ‘GET REAL,’” Pastor David Stallings said to his students who look like they are dressed for a martial arts class. No shoes, no formal dress.
The participants of this church event are casual and ready to tackle learning that is hands-on.
“Real what? Pastor Stallings asked of his students. “Real power,” they answer back in unison. “Real love.”
Pastor Stallings’ students are all different ages and sizes from four years old to some instructors that are in high school. Not your typical church scene. Kids gathered inside the gymnasium of First Baptist Church of Oak Grove Heights are learning how to take down a bully.
Pastor Stallings believes children need to have the skills to handle a bully—not only physically... but mentally.
GET REAL is a faith-based approach to bullying and is founded on 2 Timothy 1:7. “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.”
“One of the rules we have is no kicking and punching and that’s ‘cause we’re all God’s creation and we don’t want to hurt each other,” Gracie Stallings said. Gracie is Pastor Stallings’ daughter. She is headed into the fifth grade this year.
When a situation is escalating with a bully, Pastor Stallings believes skills he learned through Jiu Jitsu could help a child protect themselves.
“Bullies usually seek out kids that have self-esteem issues or are timid,” Pastor Stallings said. “So they find a weak one to start with. Our goal is to just produce confidence in these kids and through loving them, they are very important.”
And the program doesn’t stop when kids walk about of the gym. It extends to their home and school. GET REAL is based on points.
“They see, oh, I got to make that point. They want those points. So when they come back. They know the Bible verse,” Shelly Morgan, grandmother to one of the participants, said. “Then, Miss Mary gives them a hug and says you got five extra points for knowing that.
Morgan nominated Pastor Stallings for the Gr8 Acts of Kindness.
After students, like her grand-daughter, earn 100 points...
“They get a fun night,” Morgan explained. “They get to come eat and play.”
“It’s just, we all love it,” Gracie said with a big smile.
On this Sunday night, there was a big reward for the man behind the program.
“You are our next winner in the Gr8 Acts of Kindness!” I announce to Pastor Stallings. A group of parents and grandparents gather around him and cell phones are raised to take pictures.
I tell all the folks in our church and our coaches the most important thing we can give our kids is love,” Pastor Stallings said. “Love them when they come in and let them know how much they mean to us and that we are so glad to have them here.”
Pastor Stallings was approached to develop this program for kids after a friend contacted him.
“He came to me. He had had a family member a young girl had committed suicide,” Pastor Stallings explained. “Part of it was that she was being bullied.”
“GET REAL is the program Stallings hopes will keep that from happening again. “GET REAL changes lives,” Gracie announced.
“God says that you are beautifully and wonderfully made<” Pastor Stallings said. “We want them to know that and how much he loved them.”
The GET REAL program has grown tremendously since it first started. It now includes children from the surrounding area—and not just children who attend church there.
If you know someone like Pastor Stallings who is making a difference. Let us know about them. Nominate them for the Gr8 Acts of Kindness on our website.