Everything was ready. The projector was working. The computer was working. All of the felts were in order. I’d reviewed my notes at least a dozen times. I’d even practiced delivering the message. The only thing we needed was a few children. I glanced at my watch. It read five minutes to seven. I began to get concerned. Surely children should be there by now. We had sent out over two thousand postcard invitations for these meetings. Finally the minute hand pointed to the twelve and it was time to start. Still we had no non-Adventist children.
I had spent months praying, studying, preparing for these meetings. I had plead with the Lord to send children, because I was concerned that it might be hard in the United States to turn children out to evangelistic meetings geared for their age.
The first evening of our meetings, when I stood up to teach, there wasn’t one non-Adventist child in the room. I was so disappointed. I wondered where the Lord’s blessing was. I wondered if I had done something to prevent the Lord’s blessing.
In spite of my disappointment, I had to get up and teach, because we had fifteen Adventist children in the room. They were ready and excited to go to meetings geared for them. We also had around eight or nine adults in the room, that were curious about how Bible prophecy could be taught to children.
We started our meeting each night with a few scripture songs. Over the course of the meetings, we learned around fifteen songs. We chose not to learn too many different songs, because we hoped that the scriptures would stick with the children for the rest of their lives.
After the songs, we had an opening prayer and then we had our mystery box. The mystery box was a favorite with the children. The mystery object was tied into the lesson for the night. Some of the mystery objects were an animal horn when we studied the Little Horn, a pillow when we studied that death is like sleep, a set of blueprints when we learned that the earthly sanctuary is patterned after the heavenly sanctuary. The children had lots of fun trying to figure out what was in the box based on the hints that were given.
Next we spent a few minutes learning from nature and science things that would help us to understand our Bible lesson better. Nature is God’s second book, and it is the book that children often relate to the best. We had lots of fun demonstrations and examples of God’s handiwork in science and nature. For example: the night that we studied the millennium, we learned about how some chemical compounds start connecting into chains; when we studied “as in the days of Noah”, we learned about weather; when we studied about Mt. Carmel, we had a demonstration that made it look like water was burning, but then we learned that there was lighter fluid floating on the surface of the water and that water cannot burn. Each night the children couldn’t help but watch and listen to these exciting nature/science nuggets.
The childrens’ meetings were not the only meetings going on. In fact, they were not even the main set of meetings. Upstairs in the same hotel, a twenty-night prophecy seminar was being held for the public. Pastor Cody Francis was leading out in those meetings.
We had very interesting results at these meetings. Typically the highest attended evening of an evangelistic series is the second evening. At these meetings the attendance just kept climbing throughout, and the attendance never dropped below that of the second night all the way through the twenty nights. People were hooked. They wanted to learn the truth. The room, in which the adults were meeting was frequently full to the limit.
In fact, the night that the Sabbath was presented, the people just started asking question after question—honest questions—after the presentation, and Pastor Cody was able to show them the answers to each of their questions from the Bible. It was thrilling to see the Holy Spirit opening the minds of the attendees to His truth.
A couple of the people who attended regularly were two young men. One is in college and one in high school. They faithfully attended each evening and have now started worship¬ing with us on God’s holy Sabbath day. Most young men of their age are consumed with the moment, with having fun now. But these two friends do not want to mess with the passing pleasures of sin, but they look forward to an eternal reward.
Each evening the topic covered in the children’s meeting was the same as what was covered in the adult meetings. The children were learning prophecy right along with the adults. At one time, I assumed that studying prophecy was too difficult for young children, but then I read this statement: “Parents should feel it a sacred duty to instruct their children in the statutes and requirements of God as well as in the prophecies.” Review and Herald, October 21, 1884. Of course, we do not use the same methods to teach children as adults. Children do best with simple language and shorter lessons, but they can be rooted and grounded even at a young age. “Make them [children] acquainted with the great pillars of our faith, the reasons why we are Seventh-day Adventists… These things should be explained to the children in simple language, easy to be understood; and as they grow in years, the lessons imparted should be suited to their increasing capacity, until the foundations of truth have been laid broad and deep.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 330.
What a high calling we have to educate our children in the deep truths of God’s Word. So even though we did not have any non-Adventist children the first night of our meetings, there was still a wonderful opportunity to teach Adventist children the pillars of our faith in language geared at their age level.
The children enjoyed seeing the lesson as well as hearing it. They were always intrigued by which felts would be used to demonstrate the lesson. One of the youngest children who attended, a two-year-old little girl, is now giving her dollies “children’s meetings” about Jesus with her small felt board at home. Even the youngest ones can give their hearts and lives to Jesus.
After the lesson we worked on a new memory verse each night, which we reviewed again the following evening; and then came the hands-on activity for the children—crafts. We had purchased a set of crafts from Feeding His Lambs ministry (www.feedinghislambs.com). Each evening the craft reiterated the lesson of the evening. All of the crafts went together in a book so that the children could take them home and remember what they had learned by looking at the crafts.
The good news is that on the second weekend non-Adventist children did start coming. One seven-year-old boy, who was from out of town and was staying in the same hotel, started then and didn’t miss a single night after his first. I can still remember the look on his face when we studied the Sabbath; but by the night after, he himself volunteered that the seventh day is the Sabbath. We now just pray that these seeds that were planted will spring up in the right season and that he can also share with his parents what he learned.
Other non-Adventist children came off and on throughout the meetings. Our highest attended night was the night that we covered the Sabbath. That night we had seven non-Adventist children. We were a bit crowded but were so excited that so many had the opportunity to learn about God’s Holy day. On the night that we studied the state of the dead, we had an adult attend the childrens’ meetings who hadn’t been to any meetings. Later she told her coworker, one of our church members, that she had learned a lot by joining us that night.
Truly the Lord did bless these meetings. We just pray for each one who attended either the prophecy seminar for adults or for children. Many seeds were planted. Some have already begun to sprout, but others may take more time to germinate, so we continue to pray for these. Please join your prayers with ours.
By Rhonda Clark, Missions Projects International, PO Box 59656, Renton, WA 98058. Phone: 800-467-4174. Website: www.missionspro.org