Anyone who knows my story should not be surprised that I am passionate about Children’s Ministry. It was during those formative years that my faith was grounded and I began to understand that God intimately cared about my needs and concerns. You see, I received Christ as Savior in a summer Bible School at the tender age of 7. I knew that there was a divine call on my life that would include ministry through both music and teaching children at 10 — even though I had no idea what it would look like.
My childhood looked wonderful to those who chose to glance into my world. I was raised in a loving Christian home and had all that I needed and wanted. I excelled in school and was a gifted pianist. Things looked perfect. What those outside of my immediate family did not know was that I was living in torment. Nights were sleepless as I faced attacks from the very depths of Hell itself. I feared that I would die nightly. I sensed evil in my bedroom, hovering over me and intending to bring me harm. Some that heard of the nights in my childhood home attributed my nightmares to an over-active imagination and a child who was simply afraid of the dark. My parents, on the other hand, knew that my fear was very real and not simply in my imagination. My mother posted Scriptures of hope and peace around my bedroom so I would have something to easily use when spiritual attacks came. Many nights, I would make my way to my parents’ bedroom in the dead of night in tears as a child of 9, 10, and 11 — desperately needing to be rescued from the torment and panic that had gripped me. I am so thankful for the many long nights that my parents spent, fervently praying at my bedside that peace and rest would come into the darkness that I was experiencing.
I thought I was doomed to deal with this trauma for the rest of my life. I was convinced that deliverance was not in my future. Thankfully, my local church was led by a Godly pastor who saw my suffering and sought God for direction to bring healing to my situation. This man who had a heart for children left his sermon preparation on a busy afternoon to come to my home. He arrived that afternoon and chatted briefly with my parents before he asked if I would come out into the back yard with him for a few minutes. The two of us sat on the back porch for what seemed like hours as he asked about my night time struggles and listened — really listened to what I was saying. I never felt as though I was intruding on his valuable time. I never thought that my struggles were unimportant in his eyes or that he was simply visiting me out of some obligation. This visit made all the difference in the world to me because I suddenly knew that someone cared! Then in the backyard of that shotgun house, Bro. Marlow effectively ministered to me as a child. He taught me from the Scriptures. He equipped me to overcome. He prayed with me until there was peace. Then he got down on his knees and looked me directly in the eye and told me that he would come back as many times as it took until the torment ended….even if he had to spend the night praying over me.
Did I find victory immediately? No…..but I had a new level of faith because I knew I was not facing this nightmare alone any more. There was a man that I respected and trusted who took the time to show me that my problems mattered to him and to my Heavenly Father. On that afternoon, James Marlow became “Jesus in the flesh” for me when I needed someone to stand with me the most.
So that’s why I’m so passionate about effective ministry to children. I was a child who desperately needed someone to take me seriously and minister to my needs — without declaring them foolish or a waste of time — and speak words of life and hope into my spirit. Whenever I have the privilege to minister to children, it is often this personal experience that fills my heart and reminds me just how important the time is that we spend with a child as we lovingly point them to Jesus. It is also the reason that righteous indignation rises up within me when I see a young person shunned or pushed aside by leadership or congregations that tell them with words or actions that their problems are not significant enough for the church to invest her resources or time. Whenever I see such actions, I will speak up loudly as an advocate for those who are often unable to speak up for themselves.
Now that you know my story, it should be no surprise that Mark 10:13-16 has been a favorite passage of Scripture for me for many years. It reminds us that Jesus cared deeply for children and called them to come to Him without fear or inhibition. What a precious treasure that story is! This week as I revisited this familiar passage in my personal Bible study, however, I observed some things that I had not noticed before. In the following post, I will share my new insights into the passage. I hope you’ll join me on the pages of the Word and consider what God might have to teach us there.