“And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
~ Mark 10:13-15
I regularly say and truly believe that kids ministry is one of the most important ministries of the church, if not the most important. One of the greatest blessings of being a kids church leader over the years are the things that I have learnt from children. It’s easy to go into kids ministry thinking that you’re there to teach kids more about God, faith and the bible, because you are – but more often then not God will also teach you about Himself and about yourself through kids.
Yesterday morning, aside from aching legs and destroying kids in scarecrow and being destroyed by kids in dodgeball, I was reminded just why I decided to lead in kids church. Why I give up time every few Sunday mornings when I know I could be listening to the sermon. Not having grown up in a Christian family, I never got to experience what it is like to grow up through a kids ministry, so part of my enjoys leading for that reason. Not only that, but I have learnt that we adults could learn a thing or two from children.
One of our kids was there for the first time. She came into our room at the beginning looking nervous, quiet and apprehensive about being there. I chatted with her and introduced her to everyone while we all played with some lego, helping her to feel more welcome. Two of the other girls came and sat with her and played with her, spoke to her and drew with her. During the morning, we sung and danced to kids worship (I haven’t done kids worship in a month and a half – so my legs are dying), talked about new years resolutions and God, prayed and played games. She left the program smiling with her mum, proclaiming that she wants to come back.
That is a victory. That is one of the reasons I spend time serving in kids ministry – because kids go away feeling valued and loved beyond measure, by the leaders, other kids and by God.
One of our kids opened up about her grandad who has been diagnosed with cancer and I was totally unprepared for what she said next. She is in year 7, 11 or perhaps 12 years old. She fasted from soft drink and lollies for a week so she could focus herself entirely on God, devoting herself to prayer. We all got in a circle and prayed for her grandad and her family, but oh my word, what faith as a young person that displays. Not only a willingness to fast to devote yourself to God but to actively share what’s going on in your life in a group setting for prayer.
Moments like that I cherish. Moments of pure gold where childlike faith shines through. It is encouraging to me and convicting to me as an adult to see children step out in faith and express such pure trust in Christ, something which we with our scepticism and overthinking and overanalysing minds struggle to comprehend. Children can maintain the childlike wonder and trust in God – and I feel that this is what it means to receive the kingdom of God like a child.
A few nights ago now, I opened a letter from one of my sponsor children, little 5-year-old Fidel. His letters are written by his tutor. She wrote that he is improving in his grades and making friends of the same character as him, being more sociable. One of the questions in his letter for him to answer was things I like. These were his answers:
- What I like best to do with my friends is sharing all (my food, toys, ball, color pencils etc.)
- The chore I like best is watering the garden
- What I like best about the project is the weekly learning activities because they are very interesting
- What I like best to do with my family is exploring and enjoying every moment of our adventures and most of all sitting together to read my sponsor’s letters paying attention to every detail on them.
A 5-year-old little boy who likes to share all his things. That’s a hard thing to do for many kids; even for adults. But, it was the last one that got my attention.
“Most of all sitting together to read my sponsor’s letters paying attention to every detail on them”.
Can anyone fault me for crying? The work that Compassion does working with these children is phenomenal and I am a big advocate for what they do. Every time they are at a conference I go to, I always want to sponsor just one more. One more child out of the cycle of poverty. One more child experiencing the joy of being sponsored. One more child who may have a much better chance in their future because of the program. I wrote a two-page letter back that night to both sponsor kids and have now set a reminder on my calendar to write to both Tharun and Fidel every two months, irrespective of which country I am living in.
A child has no ambition, pride, and haughtiness and children are characteristically humble and teachable. They aren’t prone to pride or hypocrisy. They have a wonder and awe about the world. We need to reclaim that childlike faith – a faith which wonders and awes at Christ and who He is.
I have been so encouraged by the faith of children – faith which puts many of us adults to shame. From seeing kids step up and help out in our media, to stepping out and meeting new people and helping them feel welcome, to leading worship from the front of kids church. This is the next generation of leaders – business leaders, pastors, teachers, parliamentarians. The next generation of kids leaders and youth leaders. This is a generation worth putting the time and the effort into to see them grow into godly youth and godly young adults and godly adults who impact their world for the glory of God.
This, really, is why I’m so excited for the opportunity to head to Cambodia. I get to teach English to kids for 6 months! What a privilege and blessing to not only get to be a part of what God is doing in Cambodia but to be a part of ministry to kids over there. No doubt new lessons to come!