Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there. Matthew 19: 13-15

I have been working in children’s and youth ministry for almost 10 years. Nearly five years ago, my husband and I moved from Oregon to Muncie, Indiana to work in a full-time nextgen role and I work in our church day care part time. Each day when I look at the beautiful faces of the children I work with, I am reminded of Jesus’s love for them.

Our church and daycare are in a poverty-stricken part of town with the highest child poverty rate, highest infant mortality rate and highest number of meth labs in the state of Indiana.

Despair, hopelessness and fear are all around us. However, God’s light shines bright in the faces of these children.

When the children in this passage approached Jesus, the disciples rebuked them and tried to keep them away. Jesus corrected the disciples and said rather “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these”.

We know in scripture that Jesus wants to bless children and we should encourage children to seek Jesus and follow His ways. As leaders and pastors, it is our heart’s desire that each one would have a relationship with Jesus. I believe in this scripture that Jesus is especially compassionate for the weakest and most vulnerable. When I find myself surrounded by the children I work with, I ask Jesus to give me a heart like his for these children and their families.

I find that when I have the opportunity to share Jesus with children, their simple faith in Jesus is so refreshing.

When we teach that the Bible is truth, they believe it. When we teach that Jesus loves them and died to save them, they are eager to follow Him. I pray that each day, God would renew a child-like faith in me. These children need Jesus and the hope they have in eternity. They need to be loved unconditionally and need to know that God loves them. Their home lives can be messy, difficult and sometimes horrifying but Jesus’s love is the hope we can cling to.

Hopelessness and fear are very real and present in our communities today, but we serve a God who equips us to be the light of the world.

I believe God wants to raise this next generation up to be fearless conquerors.

It is our job to teach and train them and to love them and their families right where they are. As a follower of Christ, are you bringing the children in your communities to Jesus? We can learn so much from children and the light they bring to our broken world.

Here are some practical ideas to reach children and their families:
-Host a VBS at your church
-Have church in your local park
-Open up your church playground or gym up as a play space on weekends
-Become involved in local family events and parades
-Sponsor a youth sports team
-Adopt a local school and pray for it as a church.

Nicole Hill

NextGen Leader | Muncie South Foursquare Church - Muncie, IN
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