Saturday, November 29, 2008

As a Little Child

“Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God ... Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." (Mark 10:14b-15)

Some time ago, I was asked to participate in a children's outreach event focusing on sports, missions and evangelism which would take place this weekend. You can safely assume my involvement was not in the sports arena! - however, I was asked to prepare a missionary lesson with a gospel message for children.

I will be perfectly honest and say that unfortunately I accepted the invitation less than enthusiastically and in fact, looked for a good reason to get out of it. With the end of the school year, holidays - but most of all preparations for packing and moving - giving up a Saturday morning was the last thing I wanted to do! But I did accept, and began by taking some time to prepare my heart before the Lord this morning and ask for His help in carrying out my assignment. The story I had chosen was one I had taught once before, a true biographical account of Salvador of Spain.

Salvador was a young boy who grew up in a difficult part of Madrid with a mostly-absent father and a tired, explosive mother. Through wrong choices of friends and following the footsteps of his older brother, he became a drug addict and seller at a young age. More than once he tried to escape this lifestyle but not until he surrendered his life to Christ did he experience true freedom and victory. Although the consequences of his former lifestyle stayed with him and he died at age 30 from AIDS, his testimony in the years prior to his death was of God's powerful, life-changing grace.

I chose this story in part because of Salvador's love for soccer, one of the sports the children would be competing in later today. Sensing that there might be many children from difficult homes similar to Salvador's was another reason. But when I was assigned the 5-11 year old age, I was afraid that perhaps the story would be too graphic (I did in fact "tone it down" a little bit and quickly flipped past the picture of Salvador injecting himself with heroin!)

There was no way I could have known that two of the littlest listeners in my audience knew all too well exactly what I was talking about. When I gave an invitation for any of the children who wanted to invite Jesus Christ to forgive their sins and become their Savior, six children came forward to meet with me privately after the lesson. Five of the six had never asked Jesus into their hearts before and were eager to do so. Each had their own story, and time didn't allow for me to hear them all. Yet I was able to learn that the two youngest of these, an adorable curly-haired, dirty-faced brother and sister pair, lived a very "at-risk" home life with - you guessed it - a drug-addicted mother.

How the Lord humbled and changed my heart this morning! I left the house planning to do my piece and hurry home, and instead found myself hand-stamping cards and writing a personal note for each of these precious children to take home today. It was a special joy to do so in the company of my daughters, with Isabel insisting on cutting out little decorative squares on which we wrote "Jesus te ama" to include with each card.

I do not know how the Lord will use today's decision in the lives of these children, but I do know that I have been reminded that His ways are so much higher than mine ... that every ministry opportunity is a privilege ... that He is the one who draws the lost to Himself, and I am merely a very cracked vessel.

Today the kingdom of God rejoiced over six sensitive hearts, and the simple childlike faith of five new believers in Jesus' death on our behalf on the cross of Calvary, His resurrection and promise of eternal life and home in Heaven. To God be the glory!


HollyMarie said...

Oh wow Stephanie; thanks for sharing these intimate moments with us. Praise God for sweet hearts and may He be with those children..

Anonymous said...

Steph, Praise the Lord! Those times are so humbling and yet so precious to us. I thank the Lord for all of the times He uses us despite our not so excellent attitudes. Guess we all still have much to learn about the grace of our Lord. Love, Mom

Terri Fisher said...

Too cool, Steph! I knew Salvador personally...he was one of the guys I met in Spain when I was there in 1989. I met two of his brothers, as well. It's so neat to know that God is using his testimony even after his homegoing. Love you!