A ministry leader filled with compassion for incarcerated women plans to open a school designed to help their children.
Robin Khoury, founder of Little Light Ministries, said she will open the Little Light Christian School in September at Lone Star Baptist Church, 1805 E Hefner Road.
She said the faith-based nondenominational Christian school has been specifically designed for elementary-age children whose mother is or has been incarcerated. Khoury, 54, said she envisions the Little Light school being exactly what its name implies: A light for children who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in dark, challenging circumstances.
“We want to walk with them through it,” she said.
The Rev. Scott White, pastor of Lone Star Baptist, shared similar sentiments.
He said his congregation did not hesitate to open the church doors to Khoury and her fledgling school ministry. White said the church sees the school as another way to fulfill its mission to be the “hands and feet of Jesus.”
“We, like everyone else, see the repetitive cycle in these children's lives,” White said.
“If someone doesn't do anything to reach out and touch their lives in a meaningful way, they are going to end up in prison themselves. ... So, someone should be doing something; why not the church?”
Spreading the light
Khoury lives in Oklahoma City with her husband E.G. Khoury. The couple attends Metropolitan Baptist Church, an independent Baptist church in the Putnam City area where she grew up.
She said the idea for the new school evolved from her Little Light Ministries work with incarcerated women and her many years of homeschooling her two sons, who are now grown. She said she has always felt called to work with young people and writes a Christian children's series called “Babe in Christ” and also has written other youth-oriented books.
“I'm an old retired homeschool mom,” she said, smiling. “One day God just put this in my heart — that one day I would have a school for disadvantaged children.”
She said she regularly offers Bible study to women incarcerated at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud. Over the years, she learned about some of the bleak statistics for children whose parents are in prison. Khoury said children seem to suffer in particular when their mother is incarcerated.
“When a mom is incarcerated, many times, she is the primary caregiver,” and her children are often shuffled from one relative to another, mainly grandparents, Khoury said. She said these children often deal with depression and act out.
“All of a sudden, their mother is gone. Immediately, they struggle,” she said.
Khoury said the caregivers themselves are often overwhelmed with the children's care and some may expect the young people to be better behaved even though they have just experienced a traumatic event. Also, she said the youths often experience shame about having an incarcerated parent and are told to hide this information from other people. She said this can lead to a sense of isolation.