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Are you listening to the children?

A word from editor Sam Donoghue April 2013

 One of the highlights of editing Childrenswork magazine is that I get to read the articles (even before Lloyd our designer works his magic on them) – and they still challenge and inspire me in my ministry to children (despite only being word documents). However there is something in the last magazine that means that my last sentence needs to be changed.

 I need to stop talking about ministry to children.

 Rachel Turner’s brilliant article reminds us afresh of how children are spiritually capable as children and don’t need to wait to become adults, or even teenagers, before God can use them. I need to become someone who has a ministry with children not to children. I need to create the space for them to meet God and then listen to what God has to say to me through them.

 We’re on pretty firm biblical ground here, as the Bible is littered with stories of God using children in moments of high strategic significance for Israel. Think about the boy who slept in the temple who delivered God’s word of judgement over the family of the high priest, or another boy who was sent to bring his older brothers food but took on a giant and won. The challenge that comes out of this for me is; am I listening to the children I work with? Am I letting God speak to me through their insights or am I so comfortable as the ‘adult’ that I think they have nothing to offer me?

 Let me give you an example of where I have listened. A few months ago I was helping in our Sunday school and we were talking about Zacchaeus, the tax collector who gave back all he had stolen in response to Jesus coming to tea. There’s a glorious silence in the story where we are not told what happens in the house after Jesus invites himself around; all we know is the outcome as Zacchaeus gives everything back. I asked the children in my group what they thought happened in the room.

 Some thought that Jesus ‘told him to stop being so mean and give all the money back’ but for one of the group, her Jesus didn’t need to say anything. She said that ‘if Jesus was there He wouldn’t need to say anything, you would just know what to do’. Then we had a little debate about this.

 I’ve thought a lot about this since then, not about what the children thought, but about what Jesus looks like in my life. Is he the instructor telling me what to do? Or is his presence enough for me to live differently – just because he’s here and his love has filled the room?

 As we journey with children, God will speak to us through them. But are you listening?

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