When all the Bible stories have been learned, memory verses have been memorized and the object lessons have been successfully executed and their application absorbed, boredom begins to set in for preteens in their faith. They face the question—is this it? Is our faith only a lot of learning? If so, they feel they have been through it all and are looking for the next big challenge.
Why not give it to them? But it doesn’t have to be bigger, better presentations of Bible stories. Our team of preteens and adult sponsors hit the streets of Chicago recently for a real life faith workout where we were forced to put our faith into action not just into our memories. Encountering more than six international cultures in our short trip gave us opportunities to examine our beliefs and consider how we interact as servants of Christ.
Piu Tak Chinese Christian School invited our team to spend time in their community and school, helping their teachers clean out classrooms. Seeing evidence of a culture that worships other gods and even deny the existence of God leads to new conversations we never approach in a typical Sunday School classroom. The persistent God calling his people away from idols makes sense as we struggle with how others could consider not believing in a personable God.
Passing the homeless on the street and hearing our guide at Pacific Garden Mission give his testimony as he battled homelessness and alcoholism and found freedom in Christ challenged us to have compassion on those who struggle. Caring for the poor takes on more powerful meaning in that context as we consider Jesus’ example in his story of the Good Samaritan.
Scrubbing graffiti off a bus for an inner city church to use to bring kids to their ministries, working in the hot sun to seal roofing on the church and cleaning around the church to assist them helped us understand the extended meaning of washing another’s feet and being willing to be the least in the kingdom.
Babi, a refugee from the Congo, who has only been in the United States for 5 months joined us for dinner one evening. As we heard of his faith that kept him going during 16 years in a refugee camp, he shared his vision of studying at a university and leading worship, using his gift of music to honor God. When asked if our team could pray for him, he quickly dropped to his knees and our team laid hands on him and prayed. Self-consciousness about praying melted away as we all joined in asking God to bless and intervene in the life of this new friend. Prayer was no longer an embarrassing assignment but a necessary power in the life of someone who desperately needed that power.
Our evenings were filled with making relationships in the park—a Polish family, some Hispanic friends, a Bhutanese boy, a refugee family from Lebanon with seven boys that had turned from Islam when they came to America to worship the one true God—as we played side by side with them and shared the gospel. The Great Commission came to life as we stepped into Christ’s challenge to go into the world and make disciples.
No one was bored. They came away with a new sense of the purpose of learning all those Bible stories and a better understanding of God’s plan for them as they approach the teen years. The Light came on. Kids can make a difference—show them how and share with us how you have helped them!