Eat Your Greens
Van Diemen's Land
Bring Me To Life
Little Children Come
2003 11 25
A few weeks ago, during half term, I was helping with a kids' camp.
I'm still unsure as to how exactly I got talked into this but found myself in the Malvern Hills with a group of 6-8 yr olds from inner city areas of Birmingham and Worcester. My principle role was to anchor the 1-11/2hr God spots in the evenings.
I suppose my main concern was remembering the type of activities etc that are applicable to this age group, not having worked with them for some years. A quick glance at some afternoon CBBC was the extent of my research. I needn't have worried. Aided by the other leaders we all had a great time singing fast action songs and playing mad games that required one of the leaders to endure horrible forfeits.
The first evening was based around Daniel in the Lion's Den and incorporated clips from VeggieTales. At the end they all gathered round for a short concluding talk before a prayer.
I was amazed at how clearly they understood the story and its application to them. That God looked after Daniel and He would look after them.
Many of these kids came from the same areas as the young people I work with in prison. Indeed they might be related. I may have met their teenage mothers and fathers. Some of the stories told to me by other staff about the homes they'd come from and cases of abuse that had been uncovered on past camps confirmed this was the case.
What had been bothering me all day was that after these few days' respite they would return to those same homes, perhaps to come to harm. The question asked me so often by those ten years older about the harm they'd suffered 'Where was God?' was ringing in my ears.
As I looked at the sea of little faces peering up at me with complete trust, ready to believe whatever I told them, the sense of responsibility was profound.
Dare I cause them to believe that God would take care of them?
Dare I cause them not to believe?
I remembered the words of Jesus recorded in Mt 18:6
'But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.'
These young believers, whose angels are always before the face of the Father (Mt 18:10), to whom Jesus said 'Come!' (Mk 10:13), of such is the Kingdom.
Whatever I said, if it destroyed their faith, a severe judgement awaited me.
As I paused in that moment I had to choose whether I believed what they did. That the God of Daniel is the same yesterday, today and forever. That even when we're in the den of lions, in harms way, He is with us. That good is stronger than evil, that the prayer to protect is stronger than the will to hurt.
What I knew is that I had to believe that God could protect them wherever they went back to and that the tales of harm ten years from now could be prevented. Perhaps the responsibility wasn't just God's but mine too, to pray more, continually, for them. Whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive (Mt 21:22)
Believing they'd be safe after their death, in eternal salvation was easy and an easier thing to proclaim. Believing that God could save and protect them in life was the difficult choice.
I was aware of my own lack of faith. My sophistication and life experience tempering belief with doubts and caveats. The words of Jesus became true, reminding me that I had to become as one of them, these little children, to enter into the Kingdom.
I recommended the God of Daniel to them and proclaimed the strength of His arm and His willingness to protect. We prayed and I commended them to His care.
Afterwards as I sat alone in the room I thought:
Maybe I've taught them to trust more in God?
Maybe they've taught me to trust more in God?
© cag 2005