I have ministered to thousands of children in my lifetime and learned that all kids influence those in ministry in some way. Sometimes, it’s a kid who you wonder if you can ever reach. Or it’s a child whose behavior can be called challenging, at best.
Many times, I’ve walked out of church wondering why on earth I’m still in ministry to kids. Other times, I’ve driven home praying for a particular hurting child of divorce whose dad hasn’t contacted him in weeks or months.
Being in children’s ministry can wear you down physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. Then, all of a sudden, along comes a child who reminds you of why you stay in kid’s ministry. That’s what happened in our church’s DivorceCare for Kids (DC4K) group recently.
DC4K is a support program for kids whose parents are divorced or separated. We run this 13-week, Christ-centered program at our church. In week five, the session addressed loneliness with the title “I am not alone.”
When God showed up
After all the children got settled in, we sat down in circle time, and I asked, “What’s tonight’s topic?” I cocked my head toward a placard with a picture from the activity book with the session title. Amidst laughter and smiling faces, all the children shouted, “I am not alone!”
Then, very quietly, the sweetest, little voice sang, “I am not alone. I am not alone, mmm …. Before me, You will never leave me …. I AM NOT ALONE.” While this boy couldn’t remember all the words to the chorus, “I Am Not Alone,” he really got into the part about not being alone. As he sang with gusto, “I AM NOT ALONE,” God showed up. In that moment, I was ministered to and had to fight the tears that tried to flow.
This child sang a song we’d been singing in our worship service on Sunday mornings: “I Am Not Alone,” with words and music by Kari Jobe, Marty Sampson, Mia Fieldes, Ben Davis, Grant Pittman, Dustin Sauder, and Austin Davis. As the boy sang the chorus again, several of us joined in.
I then asked the kids, “What times do you feel lonely and alone?” Here are just a few of their answers.
- When my dad moved out
- I used to be really lonely when I got home from school at 3, but my mom didn’t get home until 5. Now, we both get home at about the same time, and it is so much better because I don’t feel so lonely.
- When I think about my dad
- When my mom has to work
- When my dad moved out of state and moved far away
Many in children’s ministry just don’t realize how lonely living in a single-parent home can be. It’s important for the kids that we learn to address this issue and take time to turn their hearts toward the Lord. In this session, for example, we talked about how God is always with us and will never leave or forsake us.
God wasn’t through
But God wasn’t through with our group. My friend’s younger sister ministered to us through her actions.
All evening, she was Miss Helpful. She set up the activity stations while everyone else was in discussion time. After we played with the activity stations and went back to circle time, she quietly helped clean up the stations. She listened to every word said, and when it came time for our prayer circle, she grabbed our prayer request book.
She proudly read off each request and then wrote down other requests as the kids gave them. Then she said, “Can I pray today? I’ve never done this before.” She looked up at the leader standing next to her and asked, “Will you help me?”
We all held hands and bowed our heads as she carefully and sweetly read every prayer request, including one for a cat and one for a dog. Tears formed in my eyes again as I listened to this sweet, little voice pray. Again, God showed up and ministered to me through a child.
When ministries work together
What happens to a young child whose parents are divorced when he regularly attends worship services, goes to AWANA, and comes to DC4K? I’ll tell you what happens:
- The word of God sinks into his brain.
- The compassion of Christ covers his little heart.
- The joy of the Holy Spirit joy in his soul.
In churches, ministries working with young children shouldn’t stand apart. How much better it is for leaders ministering to hurting children to be connected.
The day after the DC4K session, I called our praise team leader because I wanted him to feel blessed too. I heard tears in his voice over the phone as he said, “Well, I would have lost it right there.”
Our slogan is that DC4K mends the heart, heals the soul, and restores the joy. I never suspected that all of this could happen in one session. Oh, yes, God certainly showed up, and a little child ministered to me.