Let The Children Come Part 3: Why It Matters

This post is the third in a three part series entitled “Let The Children Come,” in which I tell my story of coming to faith as a child and share some thoughts on children’s ministry.  You can catch up on part 1 here and part 2 here.

Let the children come 3

By the time I was 9, it was as if all of the pieces of faith were laid out on the table.  I was reading the Bible, I was involved in Christian community, and I had seen God answer prayer.  One night, quietly and uneventfully, the pieces clicked into place.

I went to a church evening service with my family.  I’m not sure why; I’m pretty certain this was the only occasion I went to an evening service as a child.

I can’t remember what was said but I remember, as the minister spoke, suddenly feeling like it all made sense.  I understood why Jesus had died on the cross, and that it was a choice to accept that and to follow him.  I actually felt a bit stupid that I hadn’t understood before!

There was no call for response or opportunity for prayer- it wasn’t the kind of church for that- but I went home, and when I went to bed that night, I prayed and asked Jesus into my life.  I didn’t tell anyone what I’d done- it stayed between me and God- but its impact was real and lasting.

The testimony I’ve shared so far is the one I will readily share with anyone.  Everything I’ve written is true, however, it’s not the full story.

The full story is harder to tell, but increasingly I feel it has to be told, because only if I am honest about how broken I was as a 9 year old girl can my story show the true depth of God’s power and grace.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”  (John 1:5 NLT)

The dark undercurrent running beneath the surface of everything I have written so far was sexual abuse.  It was not frequent, but it was there, and no-one knew.  I didn’t know myself.  I had tried to speak out on one occasion but I didn’t have words for what had happened nor the capacity to understand.  All I knew was that by the time I came to know Jesus, I was a mess.

Shortly before my ninth birthday, the person who had hurt me had died suddenly, but the initial relief had quickly given way to anxiety, guilt and confusion.  It was over, but it haunted me.  Outwardly I was free, but inside I was bound.  I was consumed with anxiety and an overwhelming fear of death.

Despite having loving parents who tried to help me I felt completely alone, that no-one understood.  They had no idea what was behind it all, and I couldn’t explain because I didn’t understand myself.  It felt like I was in a place where no-one could reach me…

BUT GOD…

It was into that background that Jesus came.  Somehow his truth was the one thing that broke through and, looking back, I don’t know what I would have done without him.  It didn’t take the anxiety away or fix the situation, but it let me know that I was not alone.  I knew that I could talk to God. I knew he would always listen and that he understood, even when I was confused, so I would lie in bed and pray to him when there was no-one else to hear.

The thought of heaven gave me hope.  I was still convinced that I was going to die, but now there was the prospect of heaven and eternal life with Jesus, I thought maybe that would be okay.

It took around two years for the anxiety to gradually fade to a more manageable level, and several more before I finally faced up to what had happened and began to talk about it, but knowing Jesus gave me strength to keep going and something secure to hold onto.  It scares me to think how my life might have turned out without him.

My experiences as a child have been one of the biggest motivators in my own work with children, and I can sum up the reason why I believe children’s ministry is so important in three words.

You never know..

  • You never know how God can use it, how he can be powerfully at work even when we see no evidence.  No-one knew the depth of God’s work in my life at that point.  They would have seen my enthusiasm for the Bible and my desire to learn more, but nobody knew how much of a difference it was actually making.  I have experienced several moments in my work with children, where I have suddenly realised that God has been doing more than I had ever imagined, that where there has been little obvious growth on the surface there has been deep transformation taking place.
  • You never know what a child is going through or how your words may point them to God and give them hope. No-one who knew me as a child suspected what had happened, and no-one knew how much I needed to hear about the hope there is in Jesus or how that would become an anchor and a lifeline.

Of course these points are true of sharing with adults as well.  Everyone needs to hear about Jesus and we never know how God will use our words.  But surely it’s a case of the sooner the better.  There are children living in darkness of different kinds and we won’t always know their circumstances but, whatever they are facing, we have a message of hope that can penetrate that darkness and that has the power to bring life, and we never know how God can use us as we share that through our words and actions.

“Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.””  (Matthew 19:14 NLT)

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24 thoughts on “Let The Children Come Part 3: Why It Matters

  1. Lesley,
    I applaud you for the vulnerability it took to share your story. I know that’s not easy, but it is a part in the healing process. I pray God uses these posts powerfully to heal your heart in new and profound ways as he uses it to touch and heal the lives of MANY others. May you be blessed as you allow Him to take your broken places, making your mess His message.
    Your neighbour at the #RaRaLinkup today.
    Much love,
    ~Sherry Stahl
    xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a powerful, honest telling Lesley. At the very least, 1 out of every 5 women walking through the front door of the church can relate to what you’re saying. I think we can all agree that’s way too many. I’m so glad you had faith like a child in those most painful, confusing times and I absolutely love John 1:5. Lifeline! Thanks so much for sharing this week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your encouragement. Yes, sadly it is something that way too many people can relate to. That’s one of the reasons why I feel we need to talk about it.

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  3. Lesley, thank you for being so honest and vulnerable in sharing your story. I love your reason why: “You never know”. You truly never know how much of an impact your words can really have on someone or how much it could mean to them just by being around, consistent, and being there for them. Thank you for your inspiring words, I’m visiting you today from #TellHisStory Linkup.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Debbie. It is so important, and encouraging, to know that God can use our words. And we truly never know how much it could mean to someone or what a difference it could make.

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  4. Your heart for children is precious. “You never know …” I’m grateful for your story and encouragement as we get involved in the lives of those around us. My primary focus is women, but I have a heart for the teenage friends of my girls. How they need the hope of Jesus, too. You’ve encouraged me to be more purposeful in my outreach to them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Dianne. Whatever the age of the people we are ministering to we have no idea how God can use us to bring hope. I’m glad this post encouraged you!

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  5. Hi Lesley,
    You have beautifully articulated your enlightenment of God’s love in your life, along with the injustice done to you as a child. You are so right that you never know what a child is going through or how your words can be used by God in ways you may never know. Your perspective and determination are inspiring and admirable! xo

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  6. I have been that child with same experiences except I haven’t opened up about it yet. Maybe one day. But it was God who was there in the darkest nights all along.

    Thanking God for you and your ministry today with children.
    May our words bring comfort in the Lord to everyone especially a child who may be going through unexplainable darkness

    Your neighbor from #HeartEncouragement
    Diana

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting, Diana, and for your courage in sharing here. I’m so sorry you have had similar experiences but I’m glad that you have known God’s light in the midst of the darkness. Praying for you for continued healing and that God will help you, when the time is right, to be able to talk to someone about it.
      For me, speaking about it for the first time is probably the hardest and scariest thing I’ve had to do but it was definitely worth it to bring it into the light and it brought so much freedom.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lesley, I appreciate your post, and your vulnerability. It takes courage to put words to such a deep wound. Having two boys, one who doesn’t appear to be open to things about God, your words give me hope and remind me that God is working in his heart, even if I can’t see it right now.

    I’m so thankful for you and your words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jeanne- I’m thankful for you too. And I’m glad this post gives you hope for your son that God is working even if there is no obvious sign. I think of it like a plant growing- so much of the growth takes place deep beneath the surface before anything visible appears. I have seen that happen in people’s spiritual growth many times.

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  8. I’m so glad that you found safety and restoration in Jesus, and that the foundation for a lifelong relationship was set. I also accepted Jesus in my bedroom – no fanfare, but I’ll forever remember how amazing that moment was. Thank you for sharing your story, Lesley!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting, Tiffany! Your comment makes me think about the verse that says there is great rejoicing in heaven- although accepting Jesus may happen very quietly and subtly here on earth it doesn’t go unnoticed there!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh, Lesley, I’m so sorry you had to go through that. My heart aches for you (but rejoices at the same time because Jesus found you and helped you through your awful time). You are right. You just never know. The number one reason that I try to handle with prayer all the people I come in contact with (especially the ones who annoy me).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Anita. That’s true- it is wise to keep in mind in all our interactions with people that we never really know what they’re going through, or how God could use us to minister to them. Praying, especially for people we find difficult, can really make a difference.

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  10. I just reread your series, “Let the children come” and I want to thank-you for your concise instruction and testimony. I minister to children each Sunday for two hours and your words have deepened my desire to serve them well.

    Liked by 1 person

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