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Heart Matters: Why Ask Why?

I was in the sixth grade when I began serving in children's ministry. There were 30 kids then; six years later, I'm still serving. Now, however, I work with more than 200 children. Over the years I've been asked -- and have even asked myself -- why I do it. Why do I expend so much time, energy, and devotion when I could branch out to other ministry areas? Recently I discovered the answer to this question.

Why? I do it for Amber, who used to tell me her name was Ariel because she loved The Little Mermaid. I do it for Alexis, who cowers behind her mother each week and asks if there will be balloons -- her greatest phobia -- in the service. I do it for all the kids from past years who still give me "mob hugs" until I almost fall over. I do it for all the children I pray for as they whisper requests in my ear and hold my hands tightly while I petition God for their infinite needs -- ranging from simple bumps and colds to more complicated divorces and deaths.

Why? Don't get me wrong. There are aspects of children's ministry that would make it easy to turn and run. Bloody noses that just won't stop, the sickening sight and smell of vomit on the floor, rebellious attitudes -- it's almost enough to scare anyone away. And serving in children's ministry isn't only about the children. Parents need ministry as well, even if it's only an example of patience and grace when they wake up late, burn breakfast, misplace every Bible in the house, or forget to brush Daryl's hair until they hit the classroom door -- just as the leader is praying. Service is a complicated thing.

Why? My roles in ministry are ever-fluctuating. I'm a mommy to the young boy who needs a hug. I'm a role model to the preteen who wants to feel a little more mature. I'm a problem-solver -- whether it's the problem of a lost hair tie, a broken Bible spine, or a burst ink pen. I'm the organizer of all things paper and the mediator of many arguments. I'm the nurse with band­ages, paper towels, and prayers for healing. I'm a leader, a follower, a disciplinarian, and an encourager. Above all, though, I'm a servant. This servant has been vomited on, cried on, sneezed on, kicked, hit, and called names. But this serv­ant has also been hugged, loved, needed, prayed for, and looked up to.

Why? My most important role is that of a servant, the example of Christ in children's lives. My desire is that Christ will use me to touch kids' lives and give them hope. And I'm blessed by these children far more than they can ever guess. I've learned the value of time, responsibility, and love. I've learned that my words can do a great deal of good -- or harm. I've learned that when I look into a child's eyes I can see past his or her mistakes and inabilities and into his or her potential. Being here week after week to see children grow has influenced my life in a way that'll benefit my future and my life as an adult. The past six years, I've learned more about children, adults, and myself than I ever imagined possible. Who knew that giving would allow me to receive so much?

So why do I do it? Because of Jeremiah 29:11: " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' " He has plans for my 200 children and I intend for them to know it, to feel it, and to believe it with all their hearts. That's why! cm

Jessica Cohea is a children's minister in Round Rock, Texas.

What's on Your Heart?

Send your 700-word story to "Heart Matters," Children's Ministry Magazine, P.O. Box 481, Loveland, CO 80539-0481. If we publish your article, we'll pay you $125.

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