“And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them.” (Mark 10:16)
Speaking of children, like the little child that had been set in the midst of Him and His disciples, Jesus said that it “is not the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matt. 18:2,14). He spoke of offending “one of these little ones which believe in me,” warning that it would be better to die a tragic death than to offend one of these. It is impossible, therefore, to be too careful about the souls of children. Barna Research Group has demonstrated that thirty-two percent of all people who profess Christ as Savior do so by time they are thirteen years of age. Vacation Bible Schools, Sunday Schools and summer camps where Christ is exalted are prime-time years for reaching our youth for Christ. Decisions made in childhood are life-changing and the effort and expense to reach these “little ones” cannot be over-exaggerated.
When I was a five-year old child growing up in Douds, Iowa, our family attended occasionally a main-line denominational church located a short distance from our house. My parents had both confessed Christ but found no help in spiritual growth from this spiritually dead church. In the summer of 1947, my eleven-year -old brother drowned while spending an overnight with a cousin who lived on a nearby farm. It was a tragedy that jolted the spiritual consciousness of my parents in that they began to search for answers and in so doing they sought to learn of God and His ways. This led them eventually to a Bible-preaching church where I as a young lad trusted Christ as Savior and would spend most of the rest of childhood growing up under the spiritual tutelage of Godly parents and Bible teaching and preaching in a doctrinally sound church. I am glad that when I as a five or six year old lad wanted to be saved and after that baptized, someone had time for me and no one told me that I was too young and needed to wait until I was “old enough” to make such an important decision. Seventy plus years later I still remember the Sunday evening service when I, sitting in the middle of a long row of “big” people, jumped onto the pew and skirted down the bench to the aisle and made my way forward at the invitation to receive Christ. Of course, I was already saved, God knowing my believing, child-like heart, before I hit the aisle, but I shook the Godly Pastor’s hand and he knelt and prayed with me and the memory is burned into my psyche forever.
That is why it is always exciting to see another week of VBS come each summer (though sadly, many churches did not have them this summer due to the corona virus pandemic). It is so thrilling to see boys and girls, many of which will only visit your church during this special outreach, come to hear of God’s love for them, something many of them have never heard before. Through the years thousands have made decisions for Christ. When folk doubt whether a child, sometimes at the early age of six or seven, can really make such a momentous decision, I remember what C.H. Spurgeon said: “The best converts, the clearest, the most intelligent converts we have ever had have been the young ones.” Or, what the world’s 19th century evangelist, D.L. Moody said when asked by a host where he was staying how many converts he had following a particular service. The great preacher said, “We had two and one-half converts,” to which his host replied, “Oh, two adults and one child I suppose.” “No,” Moody replied, “We had two children and one adult respond. The children have their whole lives ahead of them to live for and serve Christ; the adult has only at best a half-life to give.”
It behooves us all to learn the lesson Jesus taught in that brief exchange with a little child and His disciples at hand: (1) When a person gets saved, he must become as a child; (2) Children can and do believe in Jesus and we dare not offend them by turning them away from the Savior; (3) God does not want any child to perish (Matt. 18:14). Selah
“But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, Suffer little chidren to come unto me, and forbid them not: for us such is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:16)