Sandy Loyd, children’s pastor
Church of the Open Door (Clinton Foursquare Church)
Throughout her 22-year tenure as children’s pastor at Church of the Open Door (Clinton Foursquare Church) in Clinton, Iowa, Sandy Loyd has invested her time, her energy—and especially her heart—into many young lives. She has witnessed scores of kids develop a relationship with Jesus Christ and grow into adults who live for and serve the Lord. In fact, during the 17 years in which she also directed the church’s Kid’s Camp, more than 2,000 children attended—with more than 600 responding to the gospel.
“I wasn’t really thinking that I would be involved to the extent of actually pastoring kids,” Sandy told Foursquare.org, referring to the time her husband, John, an assistant minister at the church, was first asked to come on staff. “Upon arriving, I was asked if I would help with the children’s ministry. As I began to teach the kids and build relationships with them, God put the passion in me to be ‘Jesus with skin on’ to the kids.”
Sandy’s favorite times are the one-on-one interactions, where she enjoys letting kids tell their stories and shows genuine interest in what they have to share.
“I have realized,” she explains, “that you can have the great equipment, materials and high-tech things, but kids really want someone to be interested in them on a personal basis, and to love them right where they are.”
A girl named Kelli was one such child. At age 6, she came to the church after her single mother received Christ and wanted a place where she and her daughter could grow in the Lord. The little girl had many fears, however, often refusing to leave her mother’s side to attend Sunday school. Sandy recalls telling her mom to just keep bringing her. Eventually, Kelli felt comfortable enough to join the other kids.
Through the next 12 years, Sandy says, the Lord peeled away the layers of fear, doubt and anger that were holding Kelli captive, and brought healing. Now she is in college and has a great love for God, and a passion for the lost and hurting. She has served in the church’s Sunday school, the children’s Wednesday night Bible club, the Kid’s Camp, and a program in the local schools for at-risk kids.
Seeing a young person such as Kelli grow up to serve the Lord is Sandy’s greatest thrill.
“My greatest joy in serving as the children’s pastor is to see kids who have continued to choose to follow the Lord after they reach adulthood,” she says.
Her greatest challenge? Realizing she hasn’t been called to perform the spiritual training that parents are supposed to fulfill as stewards of the children God has given them.
“I am called to plant seeds of righteousness, and point them to the Savior, who is the one who can meet their every need.”
Married for 44 years and the mother of two adult children, Sandy is contemplating what the future holds, at least for the camping aspect of her ministry, as in the last two years she has sensed God asking her to pass the baton of the camp program to leaders who can take it to the next level.
“One of the biggest lessons I have learned is to not hold onto something that God has directed you to give up,” she shares candidly. “Sometimes we only want to give something up when it is not working or not producing the results we envisioned.”
Certainly it is a lot more difficult to give something up that has been so successful and such a part of one’s ministry passion. But Sandy has served the Lord long enough to know that when He asks us to let something go, it’s because He wants to place something else into our hand.
“I believe God is preparing me for the next season He has for me,” she shares. “I don’t want to miss that journey.”
And if the journey ahead is anything like the one behind, it will wonderful, exciting, and impact many lives.
By: Bill Shepson, a Foursquare credentialed minister and freelance writer in Los Angeles