The other night marked the end of our yearly AWANA program for the summer. We did our awards ceremony and had a cupcake banquet after. I had a great year coordinating games this year and getting to have fun with the kids. As game leader, I had the privilege of leading a couple of hundred Kindergartener through Sixth graders in games each week. At the banquet, I spent some time milling around talking to the kids who I had during game time and just having fun. Then I sat down with my family (three of them are in the program) to have some cupcakes and fruit. My wife, who served in the Cubbies program (3-4 year old clubbers) was talking to a little boy that had been at her table this year – Alex, and she took a second to introduce him to me. Alex was sitting at the table next to us with his older sister (who was also in the AWANA program) enjoying a cupcake and some fruit. I knew through my wife, and other sources, that Alex and his family had experienced some tragedy this past year, but I had not had a chance to meet him yet.
As people started to leave, I hung out waiting to see what we need to clean up from the night’s festivities. I had a couple of minutes before we needed to get started, so I turned to Alex and asked him if he had had fun this year and what his favorite activities had been. I like to talk to kids which occasionally gets me some odd looks when I am out in public places, but that is another story for another day. :) Anyhow, before I knew it, Alex and I were engaged in a full on conversation. I found out that his favorite movie is Jurassic Park and that he loves all things about Dinosaurs. He was giving me a complete, and detailed, run down of every kind of dinosaur – what they look like, what they eat, what kind of sound they make and what they might look like if a four-year-old boy acted them out. I learned about preschool and his teachers and what his favorite foods were. By the end of our conversation, he was beaming from ear to ear. His older sister, who has tended to be very quiet and reserved, also opened up a little bit and joined the conversation. By the time we were done, I had had a great time talking to both of them.
One of the things I am very passionate about is sharing the gospel with kids. It is one of the reasons I work in children’s ministry to begin with. I feel like one of the reasons God put me here on this planet is to help reach kids for him. Indeed, as I discussed in an earlier post, my mission when it comes to working with kids is:
I desire to teach children the love God both through instruction and by example and to help them to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Furthermore, I wish to instill in them an appreciation for, and excitement about, the Word of God and help them to develop the ability to live their lives in accordance with a biblical world view.
That night though, we did not talk about God. I did not share the gospel or the story of how Christ came to die on the cross for our sins. That night, in that moment, I just talked and I just listened. At the end of the night, I had had a wonderful conversation with a wonderful four year boy who has experienced unimaginable pain this past year. We did not speak of spiritual things, but I made another friend. I know that God can work through that small moment to accomplish big things. So, even though our time together was not overtly spiritual, it can still have an eternal impact on a child. I titled this article “Quality Time Doesn’t Always Have to Be Spiritual Time” but perhaps the better title would have been “All Quality Time Is Indeed Spiritual Time After All.” Just because we may not be talking about God or the Bible or the Cross does not mean that we are not having a spiritual impact on a child.