Addressing The World’s Ugly From A Gospel-Centered Focus

Several years ago I chose to address a tough topic in our 3rd-5th grade large group children’s ministry time.  The story of the beheading of the Coptic Christians by ISIS was front page news and my teaching plan on the names of God called for me to teach “Jesus – Overcomer”.  So, we talked about what persecution looks like all over the world and we talked about how these believers died professing Christ, and how even though they died, God was right there with them and will use their lives for good.

Then we took some time to pray.  I asked the kids to suggest how we should specifically pray.  We discussed praying for the believers in those countries to be strong.  We talked about praying for God to protect them. We talked about comfort for the families.

And then, Elijah, an awesome fourth grade boy, said he wanted to pray that God would change the hearts of the ISIS members.  I loved that. And we prayed for that. And, quite honestly, it was one of those prayers that you think “Well, that would be nice, but probably won’t happen….”

And then later that week there was this story: “ISIS Releases Some Christian Hostages – But Why?”.  Seriously. I laughed out loud.

I knew the answer to that “why” question that the article asked.  Maybe, just maybe, God did answer Elijah’s prayer. Maybe, just maybe, God listened to the prayer of a group of kids in Bradenton, Florida to make a difference in world events on the other side of the world.

Can you imagine those kids’ smiles when I shared this news story with them?  Honestly, that was one of the unforgettable God-moments of my ministry.

And THAT, my friends, is why we must engage our kids in knowing what is going on all over the world.  The world is bigger than our kids’ worship room. It matters what is happening to believers on the other side of the world.  When we engage our kids in God’s bigger story, they get to see how big He truly is.

Our kids do hear about current events, whether it is in their classrooms or overhearing on TV while parents are watching the news or a random tidbit on the bus.  By discussing these events in church, we help them develop a worldview of God’s involvement in everything. There is not a separation between secular news and Bible stories at church.  God is in it all.

By addressing difficult topics in age-appropriate manners, perhaps we can help this generation grow up with a heart for the nations. Perhaps this will be the generation that reaches the remaining unreached people groups with the gospel.  And perhaps it begins with honest conversations about the world and amazing opportunities to identify God at work in it.

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