God was doing a work and I didn't understand His plan. It was clear He was putting in my heart to train someone else for my Sunday school class, and then to resign, but I didn't understand why. I loved my class! I loved teaching. I loved loving on the children. I loved investing in them and sometimes surprising them will crazy activities!
(Sweet Jessica, my replacement in the States, with my youngest child.
She sure loves her Sunday school children's class!)
But God was closing the door, and I had to obey. It was soon after I resigned that the Lord made it clear He was sending us to the mission field. (So that's why I had to resign! It finally made perfect sense!)
During deputation, I got to teach children a few times, but I really missed teaching children's class. When we first arrived on the field, I still had no class to teach. Sigh... more waiting. Almost five years after resigning... through deputation, arriving here, preparing for almost two years, and finally starting a new church... I can finally say with a happy shout and hallelujah that I am again teaching a children's class. Most of the time it is just my younger two children, but I love it just the same. Two children... twenty children. I am just thankful to be doing what I love.
But as we start this new church, it is a perfect time to review my philosophy of children's ministry. Why do I do what I do? Why do I do it the way I do it? Is it glorifying to God? Is it His way?
(Anju, my potential future replacement,
with two of the girls from the village and my youngest son)
Now is also a perfect time to design Sunday school teacher training material, too! At some point, once again, I will have to train someone to take my place. (I have heard many times that a missionary's job is to work themselves out of a job. So true!)
Children's ministry should always start with seeing children the way God sees them.
In God's eyes children are...
A gift, a reward, a source of joy and usable for His service.
Psalm 127:3-5 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
Matthew 18:1-6 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Matthew 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
Mark 10:13-15 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
Mark 9:36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.
Designed by God
Psa 139:13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
We will reach children more effectively and make a difference in their lives when we learn to see each child as God sees them... no matter what that child looks like or how they act. When they enter that Sunday school class or the doors of the church, they should see the love of Christ oozing from us. They should feel wanted, loved, and valuable. In some of the countries missionaries serve, children are treated as "in the way," bothersome, or even as property. But they need to see that God made them precious... fearfully and wonderfully made!
To Be Continued...
By Charity, Southern Asia