by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
What motivates kids to want to make a difference? For nine-year-old Nate, it was experiencing poverty first hand.
Nate accompanied his missionary dad on a trip to the Dominican Republic. There he met children his own age. He played games with them, helped the adults meet some of their needs, even formed a few friendships.
This challenged Nate to action as he grasped the inequality Dominican kids are born into. Nate explained, “Just seeing how little they had when I had more than I needed made me want to share some of what I had.”
About that time, Nate expanded his love of fishing to making colored pencil drawings of fish. With encouragement and help from his parents, this became a thriving enterprise as he marketed his drawings on cards and calendars.
Clearly, Nate could not operate his business by himself. A team formed around him – a team of adults. Nate’s creativity, however, and his desire to use it to advance God’s Kingdom remained the centerpiece.
Not all parents are able to go beyond virtual reality as Nate’s are. Still, all adults can model a genuine concern for needy kids. From that platform, parents and teachers can give children the freedom to respond to the tug of God on their hearts and take action.
Here’s an example that I created. You can think of many more, I’m sure.
A church participates in providing meals, once a month, at a local shelter for the homeless in its community. Mom decides to sign up and brings something she prepares in her own kitchen to the shelter on an appointed night. Dad notices this and gets involved for a couple of months. Then they decide to invite their own two kids, ages eleven and nine, to join them.
“Why not?” Dad asks. “We can just bring our assigned hot dishes with us and then eat dinner with those gathered at the shelter.” Since the group of homeless people almost always includes one displaced family, or more, the organizers welcome the idea.
Kent and Julianne are reluctant to participate at first, but as time goes by, they begin to look forward to this monthly adventure. Kent finds someone his own age and takes an interest in actually forming a friendship, difficult as this is. Julianne dusts off one of her Bible story books written for pre-readers and comes prepared to read to any preschoolers who might be present.
In fact, the experience challenges Kent and Julianne and their parents in many ways. Homeless families are almost always transient and rarely does any relationship last for long. In spite of this, until Kent and Julianne graduate from high school, they participate in the homeless shelter’s outreach activities. They even cite this ongoing commitment as one of the most formative influences in their Christian lives.
From indifference, to curiosity, to tentative activity, to wholehearted commitment and active participation – in any setting, kids do respond to information and opportunity when prayerfully delivered. Kids can make a difference! And, they are often the ones to start the ball rolling with enthusiasm and workable ideas. Let’s stay alert to what God is willing to do through Spirit-energized engagement. Let’s respond with encouraging guidance and practical support. Who knows what mighty exploits for God’s Kingdom will result.
Why not take a few moments and prayerfully look around you to see what latent energy and budding talents are within your reach needing prayerful guidance. Go for it!
Note: Nate continues to forge ahead and recently announced an expansion of his artistic endeavors. He will add a line of note cards featuring ducks. You can see Nate’s website store or read the whole story and find some great photos of Nate. Enjoy!