Heart Matters: Getting It

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The most exciting opportunity I’ve had as a children’s minister
is to witness a child who “gets it.” I don’t mean a child who’s
memorized a dozen verses or who can answer all my questions with
the correct answers. I mean the child who really understands what
God’s message is all about.

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My mother told me about Tad, a boy she’d taught in Sunday school
years ago. For vacation Bible school one night, the kids had
memorized Bible verses to recite to the congregation. This group of
4- and 5-year-olds had worked very hard to memorize their verses.
And Tad had been given part of Mark 6:50 — “Take courage! It is I.
Don’t be afraid.”

When it was Tad’s turn to step forward, he stood tall and spoke so
everyone could hear. “Don’t be skeered; it’s just me!” he
proclaimed.

Tad got it! No, he didn’t have the words just right, but he
understood the message and was able to pass it on.

Then there was Jesse. She showed up at the door of our church
one Easter morning; her mother had dropped her off. Jesse wanted to
learn about God — with or without her family.

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The following week, I visited Jesse’s home and took her a
children’s visitor packet. Her delight was evident when I invited
her to our children’s activities. As I was leaving, I asked Jesse
how she’d found our church.

“It was Easter,” she said. “That’s a special day, and I thought I
should be in church. I just looked in the phone book, saw your
church, and then called to find out where it was.”

Jesse’s life was far from ideal. In fact, it wasn’t long before
Jesse was sent to live with her grandmother because of serious
trouble in her home. And although she’s moved away, she reminds me
of the many kids who are so hungry for God.

Jesse understood what the psalmist meant who wrote, “Blessed is he
who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we
bless you” (Psalm 118:26).

Alex is a first-grader. He’s also a prayer warrior. He prayed for
months for a new brother or sister. He was certain God would hear
him. Today, when he talks about his baby brother, he tells people
that God answered his prayers. Alex has influenced people much
older than him to pray.

One Wednesday evening as Alex’s family was driving to church, they
passed a federal penitentiary. Alex asked his parents questions
about the people who lived inside. And then he prayed for them,
just as he’d prayed for Timothy McVeigh — a prayer request that
wasn’t popular with some people.

Alex didn’t want McVeigh to die without knowing Jesus. He prayed
for McVeigh’s life to be spared. He prayed for McVeigh to be sorry
for bombing the Oklahoma City federal building. And he asked others
to pray with him. Although Alex didn’t see his prayer answered the
way he wanted, that didn’t stop Alex from praying for the inmates
in the federal penitentiary. Alex understands things that many
adults still aren’t clued into. He gets it.

Children’s ministry is all too often overlooked as an important
opportunity for discipling. Tad, Alex, Jesse, and countless other
children prove differently. What better gift can we receive than to
see a child putting his or her faith to work? Our kids are getting
the message!

Ginny Reding is a children’s minister in Springfield,
Missouri.

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