But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)
It is necessary to think about the intent of Jesus’ words. It is also good to think about the long-term effect of His intentions as we follow them.
In the early days of ministry among the Da-an there were no special children’s programs. The children came to Bible study times with their parents as they were being introduced to God’s Word, and eventually, to Jesus and the Gospel. The children did not always seem to pay attention. As was custom in their culture, the children learned in a somewhat passive manner as they played on the floor near where their parents sat. No doubt, some heard and learned more than others.
Sometimes there were minor distractions from the children; rarely were there disruptions. Though we did not specifically teach them, God was at work in their young hearts. Looking back to those early days we could have, and perhaps should have, done more child-focused ministry. But the work of God is always very gracious.
Today, some of those children have become the church leaders and Bible teachers! On a recent visit to the Da-an, one of the local church elders reminded me that he was that four-year-old who was always naughty during the Bible study times. (I remembered him and his parents, but did not remember the naughtiness to which he referred.)
The long-term effect of letting little children ‘play’ in the presence of Jesus and His Word can be a gracious, life-changing work. Perhaps the intentional focus on children as we minister could be even more fruitful as God does His work.
All praise to Him!