Monday, August 10, 2009
There are two thoughts I have had stemming from watching children respond to the gospel last June.
This year's CEF five-day kid's club had twenty-six children. A few of them were ones I felt had never heard the gospel before, and two little girls who believed in Jesus that week were ones whose mom was reluctant to let them go when I met her. Praise God!
CEF later sent the attendance record sheet for my club with all the names of the kids along with a general newsletter. At the bottom there was a tally:
Decisions, First Time: 6
I know most of these kids pretty well. One of the "first times" is my niece. She is five so perhaps she did not understand previous presentations of the gospel. She doesn't have a church-going family but she has me and AWANA. I wonder - was this really her first moment of faith in Jesus?
Another one is a boy belonging to a Spanish pentecostal church, but the mom seems to have a very good understanding of scripture and an active faith life. I wonder... was this really his first profession of faith?
Another eight year old girl is one I am pleased with. She came to the backyard club last year and I am sure, she was a "first time professor" of faith at that time. Then she came to club this year and is again a "first time professor" of the faith. Then I directly took her the following Monday with me to church to a VBS program, and Bonnie and the bible story teacher pulled me aside and said, "She accepted Christ today, but, she seemed to know a lot about the gospel. Was this really her first time?" I said, actually no. They said, "Hmm. Well, you might read her john 10 or other assurance passages."
I am concerned. A 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 gospel message is a/the gospel that saves the lost. Those who are receiving the Word of God are often not expressing faith that they are saved. What if the gospel has become just a list of beliefs to profess? What if the children do not understand that they have been invited by Jesus Christ to receive the gift of eternal life? This is one point of reflection I have gained through this experience.
But I have a second point of concern.
There were some older boys and their little gang who I had longed to share the gospel with last summer but they do not live in this area and disappeared for the '08-'09 school year. I was thrilled to see them wandering around again this summer. I invited them but they didn't show up till the following week. Monday at two o' clock there was a knock on the door. "We're here for the club!" they declared. I laughed and said, "You missed it, I'm so sorry guys!" They asked what they missed, and I said, "come here and I'll show you!" They all sat patiently through the CEF Wordless Book gospel. I had them bow their heads and hopefully pray with me according to their own sense of believing what they had heard from scripture about becoming a child of God. Those two boys said, "We want to learn how to read the bible." I said, come and see me and I will teach you, okay?
I was pretty excited about that but somehow they did not come around very often. Then two weeks ago they showed up saying, "We want to take Grace [my daughter] with us to church on Sunday. Can she come??"
Hmm. "What church?"
"Oh, it's just down that way, you know that one? They are giving out ten dollars to the one who brings the most friends with on Sunday. We just get on the bus in the morning when it comes by." I've seen that bus. I know the church "down there." It's the Oneness Pentecostals, who will tell them, eventually after they've begun to build relationships with the people there, that they aren't truly saved till they've spoken in tongues after being immersed in water.
The eight-year-old girl I spoke of above, the one who now three times has professed faith in Jesus "for the first time" is one of those kids getting on the bus. This makes me very upset. I have been praying about what to do.
They've come back over and hung out. I told all of them them in a serious manner that I want them to know for sure that Jesus accepts them unconditionally because of their believing in the cross and I've read them john 6:47. I've done this two times when they've been with me. But now, all they're thinking about is ten dollars. Some church will pay them money, to attend. And they want money, because they're kids. What can I offer them? What can Christ offer them that will over-ride what this church has decomposed the gospel to be about?
All this hard work that CEF has done, that I have been desiring for their sake, is now at risk. This is when the sectarian group moves in and does what they do best.
Should I play on the same terms? I was thinking much better than anything I can do to convince them to be cautious with them is to implant the Word into their hearts and minds. I have tentatively decided to pay each child one dollar for every scripture they will work to memorize. That way it's guaranteed and based on their own accomplishment.
Then, even if they go to that church, and their members tell them, "you aren't saved" they will have to battle with scripture itself -
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. John 6:47
But I am by no means sure that this is God's will for them. I keep praying, feeling unsettled and unsure. I believe Jesus is capable of doing more amazing things with these little ones than anything I might come up with.
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