In my last post, I shared how God fulfilled my dream of serving on the foreign mission field by leading me to write children's ministry curriculum. God has not been absent in using me to promote the gospel on the foreign mission field. As I quoted in my earlier post, His ways are not our ways. He sculpts His call to us in the way that will best use our gifts - and weaknesses - that will benefit and accentuate His Kingdom work.
I had heard the story of the mother who wanted to go to the foreign mission field but couldn't. At the end of her life, she felt like she had let her Lord down. Yet it was pointed out to her that all four of her children were serving on the mission field. She had not failed. She had instilled God's word and God's passion for the lost in the hearts of her children.
What a sweet story! But is it real? As I began my own journey into motherhood, I knew the odds of raising four missionaries was slim. So many worldly influences swirl around my children. I am only one of many voices calling them, pulling at them from so many directions.
Then I met Inie McDade.
Inie lived in rural Ohio. After raising her four children "in the fear and knowledge of the Lord," she took in foster kids. She and her husband adopted one of their last foster kids, a special needs child who would never mature past a second grade level. Inie was one of the best grandmas I have ever met. She and Walt had a reputation for being at every sports event, school play and music event in which their grandchildren participated. That was quite an accomplishment considering they had nine grandkids, all close in age. She always took them out for lunch on their birthdays. They would call Inie, sometimes even before they would call their mothers, if they were in trouble. Inie wasn't afraid to tell her grandkids she loved them, she prayed for them and why weren't they in church?
She faithfully took care of their adapted son to the day she died. She and Walt placed him in an independent living home to provide for the day they could no longer care for him but still oversaw his care and brought him home for every family gathering.
None of Inie's children or grandchildren became ministers much less missionaries. Some of them are active in church; some of them are not. Yet Inie poured herself and her faith into the next generation. She was faithful to God's call to pass along her beliefs and values.
As children's ministry workers, our task is not just to tell Bible stories to children. It's not just to teach children to believe in Jesus or to instill a moral code in the hearts of children so they are good citizens and faithful church attenders. Our job is to teach them well enough so they can teach others. Our job is to fill them with a passion to relay the gospel message to those who will be eternally separated from God if they don't hear.
You may work with children in a small church setting. You may have a class of dysfunctional, emotionally wounded children. You may have only two or three children each session. You may have only a couple of grandchildren whom you don't see very often. Like one woman in our current congregation, your job may be to care for one severally challenged special needs child in the public school system. Work with what you have.
Pour everything you've got into those kids. Pray for them. Pray that God will use your efforts to raise up laborers for His fields that are ripe for harvest (John 4:35). It may take years, but God will be faithful. He has a way of taking our small, seemingly unimportant efforts and bringing about great results.
Let Him use you.