by Sandy Friesen
When Jan was just two, she sat next to her mom and dad and explained in two- year-old language that she wanted to pray. When Mom asked if Jan loved Jesus and wanted Him to live in her heart, Jan said that she did.
"Why don't you pray and ask Jesus to live inside of you?" suggested Mom.
Jan did. Her words were, "Jesus, go me."
When Jan was ten, she asked to be baptized in water. She understood that this would be telling everyone that she loved and followed Jesus.
When Jan was twelve, she was praying and began to speak in an unusual language. She was overjoyed by the feeling.
Jan is now almost twenty. She's away at a university. She still has a solid, mature relationship with Jesus.
When do you start teaching children about the intricacies of our Pentecostal perspective?
From birth! Because, like Jan, we never know what is impacting the child. If we wait until a child has reached the age of formal reasoning (around twelve years of age), we've wasted many valuable years.
What are the Pentecostal perspectives that we hold near and dear to our hearts?
- We believe that we are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. (Salvation is not something we have to work to accomplish, but a gift that God has given and that we accept.) This is not uniquely Pentecostal, but is the forerunner to all of our beliefs.
- We believe that Jesus offers divine healing. (We pray and God heals according to His will. We do not know when or whom He will heal instantly or whom will be healed through time, but we still come to the Father, asking and knowing that God is able.)
- We believe in a present day expression of the baptism in the Holy Spirit that occurred on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4). The practical result of being baptized in the Holy Spirit is increased power to be witnesses for Jesus. This witness will be in both word and deed.
- We believe that there is an initial physical evidence that a person has been baptized in the Holy Spirit. We believe that this evidence is speaking in an unknown language and that everyone who is baptized in the Holy Spirit will speak in tongues immediately upon being baptized.
- We believe that God provides supernatural gifts that will help us individually and as a corporate community to live more like Christ. (These include messages in tongues, interpretations of those messages, wisdom, discernment, etc.)
How can you communicate these Pentecostal perspectives to the child?
- Through your example. Pray often and aloud when you're working with children. Sing God's praises. Your life will reflect Christ. Treat the child the way Christ would treat him or her.
- Through your intercession. Pray for the children when you are not with them. Think of ways you can help meet the needs of their lives. If a four-year-old loves teddy bears and you see a teddy bear book at the library or a garage sale, bring it to the club meeting. Let the child know that she is in your thoughts and prayers. You can encourage her to think about others.
- Through meeting the children in a variety of settings. Let the children see you at the socials, in other church services, and times when you're praying for others. Be available outside of the clubroom and be just as accepting in those settings.
- Through taking prayer requests from them. Pray for their needs. Make a note to ask how they're doing. Rejoice in their answers to prayer.
- Through using a version of the Bible when teaching that they can understand. Students will grow accustomed to having the Word of God around.
- Through always treating the child with respect. You are probably working with girls because you want to. Be sure the girls know that, too.
I know a little girl who was able to attend church only sporadically while she was very young. But when she did attend, she felt a wonderful sense of acceptance. There were never any put down's because she was not dressed appropriately or did not know all the words to the children's songs. There was just acceptance. She saw adults praying, speaking in tongues, gathered around the altar praying for divine healing. She saw teens asking God to forgive them. She saw those same youths asking God to guide their lives. Although she was not able to go to church regularly until she was almost twelve, she had had a great introduction to the kingdom of God. She is now in her forties and is still serving God.
We may get to minister to children only for a few days, weeks, or years, but we can make a lasting positive influence on their lives. You can make all the difference.