Reaching Children for Christ
The boys and girls knew to quickly pick up their chairs and scoot to the side, clearing the narrow alleyway anytime a bicycle or motorbike needed to squeeze through.
These interruptions to the discipleship class happened often enough that they had become normal, and the children and their teachers carried on with worship and Bible teaching once the traffic had cleared.
The tiny thoroughfare in the middle of the slum community was the only space that members of Grace Baptist Church could find to hold The Greatest Journey lessons. But they were undeterred. Every Saturday morning, they arrived to find the boys and girls waiting for them and eager to hear the Bible story they’d come to share.
God is using Operation Christmas Child and The Greatest Journey, our follow-up discipleship program for shoebox gift recipients, to introduce children in a slum in the Philippines to the Gospel.
Most of their families aren’t Christians, and they had never had an opportunity to learn about God’s love for them. This impoverished community is well-acquainted with hardship. Many people can’t find jobs, and those who do still don’t earn enough to make ends meet. Their small homes are pieced together with wood and bamboo scraps and precariously crammed together. Alcohol and illegal drug use is common.
“Some children go to school without food. These kids are hungry,” said Charmaine, a member of Grace Baptist and teacher of The Greatest Journey.
Charmaine and other church members wanted to reach this neglected area but they weren’t sure where to start. Operation Christmas Child and The Greatest Journey created a pathway to begin Gospel outreach among children and parents who desperately needed the eternal hope of Christ.
“This has opened doors for us to talk about Jesus,” Charmaine said. “We want them to have a personal relationship with Him.”
New Believers in Christ
Teachers of 13-year-old Glenn weren’t sure if he was enjoying The Greatest Journey lessons because he stayed in the back of the group. He didn’t interact with other children or join the singing.
As the weeks went on, they realised it wasn’t disinterest that kept him confined to the back of their makeshift classroom. “He’s so shy and he is very quiet,” Anne said. “But I encouraged him. The Greatest Journey has helped the kids develop their self-confidence.”
Anne is one of Glenn’s teachers who faithfully prayed for him, taught him God’s Word, and made him feel welcome in the classes. She recognises the importance of investing in the lives of children.
“They will be the future pastors and teachers. We want to teach the kids so that they will spread the goodness and love of God.”
Glenn is among a number of children in the slum who have repented of their sins and trusted in Jesus Christ for eternal salvation. He learned for the first time during The Greatest Journey that God loves him and sent Jesus to die on a cross for his sins.
Now, Glenn is sharing his faith with family and friends. “God is always with me. He doesn’t leave me,” he said. “I feel lighter now and I don’t worry as much.”
Glenn isn’t the only one who has grown spiritually during The Greatest Journey. Anne doubted that she could serve effectively, because she had never worked with children. She even wondered why God had called her to children’s ministry. But she knew God wanted her to teach and she wanted to obey. She came to treasure her time leading the boys and girls and watching them become disciples of Jesus Christ.
“We’re teaching the kids not only The Greatest Journey lesson but how to develop daily habits. We teach them how to pray and how to read their Bible,” she said. “I believe that if you touch their heart, they can serve the Lord our God.”
God is also using Anne and the other teachers to share His love with adults in the community. A number of mothers, including Glenn’s, attended The Greatest Journey lessons with their children.
“We want to touch the lives of families so that they will also glorify God,” Anne said.
Children in the slum embraced the chance to learn about God during The Greatest Journey. “Even if it was hot, even if it was crowded, they were so enthusiastic,” Charmaine said.
They enjoyed the time so much that Charmaine and Anne wanted the regular gatherings to continue once the lessons were finished. They started a weekly worship and Bible study for the children in the home of Charmaine, whose husband serves as pastor of Grace Baptist Church.
“It’s a joyful celebration here Saturday night,” she said. Even children who didn’t participate in The Greatest Journey have become interested in the weekly gathering at her home.
“This has been one of my greatest joys,” she said. Charmaine didn’t become a Christian until age 23. She knows the peace and joy that come from a relationship with Jesus Christ, and she doesn’t want boys and girls to wait as long as she did to experience it. “I want them to know Him at a young age.”
Will you join us in lifting up the following prayer requests?
For Glenn to grow in his relationship with God and for more people in his community to come to faith in Jesus Christ.
For Charmaine, Anne, and others who are continuing to disciple boys and girls during the weekly gathering.
That more children worldwide would receive Christ as Lord and Saviour through Operation Christmas Child and The Greatest Journey.
“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 19:14, ESV
Can provide everything one child needs, including a trained teacher, all printed materials and a New Testament Bible.
Can provide five children with a trained teacher, printed course materials and a New Testament Bible.
Can reach a whole class of 15 children with The Greatest Journey.