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For years I was convinced that I had a boring testimony. There was no way to jazz up the opening line: "I was brought up in a Christian family..." As a naive teenager I thought it would have been much more exciting to have some sort of Damascus road conversion. But the honest answer is I cannot remember life without God. There is no before and after comparison, because God is all I have ever known.
Now that I am a little bit older (and hopefully a little bit wiser) I have gained a new appreciation for my testimony. I am so grateful to God for protecting me and keeping me from walking down the wrong path. I am so grateful for parents who love God. I am so grateful for the privilege of growing up in a church family. Week by week in my Sunday School group we heard stories from the Bible and learnt what it meant to follow Jesus. The helpers made church a fun and safe place to be. Although if we misbehaved they would jokingly threaten that we would have to read the whole of Leviticus!
I cannot thank and honour those helpers enough; for their willingness to serve, for giving up their time to invest in me, and for the care and kindness they showed. They are a part of my testimony. A story that thankfully doesn't have too many twists or wrong turns, but testifies to God's love, grace and faithfulness. Even as an adult when there are storms to weather or life throws up challenges I can always rest in the simple and profound truth that I learnt as a child; that God is real and He loves me.
This is the reason I am passionate about children's work in church. I want our children to know that they are loved, so they don’t go looking for love in the wrong places. I want each child to be able to say I cannot remember life without God. I want them to know that the same power that Jesus has is on offer to them today. I want them to expect God to speak to and through them. I want their testimony to be one where they start running after God and never stop. I want them to go on to influence every area of society. From the arts to politics to science to social justice, and even travelling to the far flung nations of the world to share God's love.
For all the grandeur of these dreams, the reality is that children’s work is often far from glamorous. It can involve wiping snotty noses, soothing crying children, or for the umpteenth time reminding a child to sit on their bottom and keep their hands to themselves! It always seems to be an area that struggles to recruit enough people to serve and there are constant gaps on the rota. With a chronic lack of helpers those who do serve are stretched to their limits, doing the best they can. In all honesty it can be a stressful and thankless task. Yet it would only take a few extra pairs of hands to turn that around, making the experience more enjoyable for everyone; children and adults alike.
After twenty years of serving on kids work (yes, I started when I was 12 years old!) I have thought a fair few times about giving up, but then you have one of those golden moments and it makes it all worthwhile. I had one of those very moments last Sunday. The children were learning about the parable of the talents. At the end of the story I asked the children what gifts they thought God might have given them. To my surprise a whole host of hands shot up (it turns out you learn false humility in adulthood). I absolutely loved hearing as child after child told me about their gifts, and how they are good at art, or science, or praying for poorly people. It was such a joy to encourage and affirm each one in their gifting, whether it be the gift of creativity, or a thirst for knowledge and passion to understand how the world works, or the gift of healing and a heart for those who are hurting.
We all know where I am going with this, but before you think of a thousand reasons why kids work isn’t for you, let me ask you this: has God called you to love people? Are you able to be an extra pair of hands? Can you afford to give up two hours of your time every four weeks? If the answer is yes then YOU are exactly who we need. You have the opportunity to be involved in the biggest evangelistic outreach King’s Arms has on offer: telling our children about Jesus and what it means to follow Him. You can be a part of someone’s testimony. What a privilege.
I love that when we look at Jesus’ life he was never too busy or too important to spend time with children. He prioritised them and welcomed them to come close. I have an inkling that if Jesus came to the King’s Arms you would be more likely to find him serving in King’s Kids than preaching from a platform. Now if only I could convince him to join my team!