A Single-Minded Purpose
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After she completed a drug rehabilitation program, the 32-year-old single mother from Hobbs, New Mexico, was reunited with her 9-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter. She then heard about Flourish Single Mom Care, which equips churches to minister to single mothers and their children.
“I didn’t know anyone even cared about people like us,” De Los Santos says. “As soon as I entered the building I began to feel beautiful and accepted. These are things I hadn't felt in years.”
De Los Santos says Flourish helped her to connect with other single moms and to hear their struggles. She felt encouraged after realizing many others struggled as she did.
“As a single mom, it’s common to be rejected or judged by others,” De Los Santos says. “Flourish made me realize that my God is a forgiving God and He hasn’t rejected me.”
In 2015, Maribel Miller and her husband, Carl, who are U.S. missionaries with Missionary Church Planters & Developers, launched the Springfield, Missouri-based Flourish Single Mom Care.
Stan L. Welch, executive secretary and missions director of the Assemblies of God Southern Missouri District, says Flourish has been a blessing to many.
“Flourish is meeting one of the greatest needs today,” Welch says.
The Millers’ work reaching out to single mothers is an offshoot of a ministry they had to street children of Mexico City when they served as Assemblies Of God world missionaries.
“We realized that to help street kids, we also had to care for their parents, because 99 percent of these children came from fatherless homes,” says Miller, 48.
There are 10 million single mother-led families in the U.S., according to the U.S Census Bureau. Roughly two-thirds of single moms do not actively attend church. Less than 1 percent of the 300,000 evangelical churches nationwide have some official form of outreach to single moms. The Flourish ministry is based on James 1:27, which gives the imperative to care for widows in distress.
“Single moms are the modern-day widows,” Miller says. “Flourish serves widows, single moms, divorced moms, women who are separated, teen single moms, grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren alone, mothers whose husbands are incarcerated or have been deported, and military single moms whose husbands are deployed.”
The ministry offers a four-hour training in English or Spanish for churches, as well as follow-up support, resources, and networking with agencies.
When a single mom attends a Flourish group, she can expect a once-a-month gathering with a full meal for her and her children, Bible teachings, fun activities for youth, spiritual growth, social parenting guidance, financial stewardship training, and emotional health support.
There are also multiple special events, including the annual Flourish Single Mom’s Christmas Banquet, back-to-school drives, spa days for the single mothers to relax and be pampered, and movie nights. Flourish is expanding beyond the Midwest to other parts of the country as well as overseas.
In February, Iglesia Rey de Reyes Asambleas de Dios (King of Kings Assemblies of God) in Sogamoso, Colombia, launched a Flourish group with 130 single moms.
“We want to put into practice every detail designed in the Flourish manual to continue developing this ministry,” says lead pastor Carlos Reyes.
Manuel Vallejo III, lead pastor of East Central Christian Fellowship in San Antonio, says Flourish is filling an important function at the church.
“Flourish is an answer to prayer,” says Vallejo, who is also the assistant superintendent for the Texas Louisiana Hispanic District. “Flourish is now a part of what our church offers to single moms.”