By Matt Chancey In a recent Africa Messenger, we included a picture of some of the students from Providence Christian School in Dothan, Alabama. The students at Providence have been wonderful partners in our clean water projects.
My mother is a Latin teacher at Providence and recently invited me to give the students an update from my latest trip to Sudan in December. Although I was still a little foggy from the trip and not feeling in much of a "presenting" mode, I went anyway.
When I arrived at the school, I was greeted by at least 200 third- and fourth-graders, who gathered around a big Christmas tree in the center of the school hallway and began singing Christmas carols to me - in Latin.
It was the most unique "welcome home" I had ever experienced. My mother then presented me with another donation from the school to PPF for our clean water project. This donation was raised through the gifts of hundreds of children, some of whom have only recently heard of a place called Darfur and the children there who need clean water.
The impact of children in missions cannot be underestimated. I think we make a mistake in the Church by under-valuing the contribution our children make to the Great Commission. We can also make a mistake in misunderstanding where children fit into the role of missions. Some Christians believe their children can be "missionaries" to a pagan culture, so they throw them in head-first and are shocked when 85% reject their faith by the time they head off to college. Other parents don't involve children in "their ministry," because it's just too complicated, dangerous, or "over the heads" of their kids. Of course, both positions are wrong.
While working with PPF, I think we've been blessed to see where and how children can impact missions in a very positive way.
When Brad and I were in Jaac a couple of weeks ago, we were joined by our good friend Larry Warren from African Leadership. Larry brought along his wife, Mary, and sons Joshua and Johnny to join us in visiting some of the villages where our new wells are functioning. While visiting with the people, Larry delivered a very powerful message.
Larry told the refugees in Jaac that when his sons were very small, any time he would head toward the door, the boys would run up to him and ask, "Can I go with you?" And as the boys got a little older, they would first ask their dad, "Where are you going?" And still later, they would ask, "What will you be doing?"
Larry's point was that when Jesus said we should have faith like a child, we need to be like his sons when they were little boys... just wanting to know "Can I go with you?" They didn't have to know where Larry was going or what he was doing. All they knew was that they wanted to be with their father and do what he was doing.
I was reminded about this by visiting with the students at Providence Chrstian School. Most are still at that "Can I go with you?" stage. They don't need a lot of details. They don't have to have all the answers. All they know is that children in Sudan need clean water, and God is sending missionaries in there to help - and I want to be with my Father and do what He is doing.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God, Who came to do the will of His Father. When He was a little boy, He desired to follow His Father. And when He became a man, He continued following His Father, even to the cross.
I'm so thankful He did. May God make us all faithful sons like Jesus.