We are not exactly world travelers but mission trips have taken us to several countries. Since we assist people through educational helps, we are almost always in contact with teachers, staff, or children of a school or ministry. These are little Aeta children in the mountains of the Philippines, but they are not much different than children anywhere.
We have learned something. The chances to share something meaningful about the love of God and the Good News of the Gospel are fleeting. When it comes to children, those moments are even more brief.
Last week we were around the dinner table with friends. They are parents and doing the right things. We had no complaints, but we were talking about this very issue. They know, like we know, that those moments of meaningful exchange with children about the reality of God are fleeting. Why?
It is not a mystery. The attention spans of young ones are short. Their comprehension is limited. The words have to be plain, simple, and pertinent for them to understand. And we have to have something of God’s life that is resident in us, or they cannot hear what we say very well.
It is easy to go to a foreign place and love on children. But to communicate something meangingful is entirely another matter. That requires some prayerful and careful consideration of the child, the situation, and the time. With children in families, it is not different. Even when something meaningful is shared, response from a child is hard to gauge, but those of us who are older in Christ than the child understand: we are not responsible for the response in their hearts. They are. So, one has to be patient and keep sharing–understanding that good behavior (or copied behavior that appears good) does not equate to being born again.
So parents, do not stop looking for those opportunities to share about Jesus. Members of mission trips, love the children but go further to try to share something meaningful. If Jesus kept teaching the disciples, and the Holy Spirit works in our circumstances over and over again–even when we are relatively callous to His beckoning and teaching–then we can do the same. Learn to look for opportunties to share a little here, a little there, and keep doing it…carefully and prayerfully. It really is the same with adults as it is with children. And, the Good News is worth sharing if you know the reality of a relationship with Christ.