During my second year in college I learned God had given me a calling and burden for a particular people group. Its one of the largest unreached groups in Melbourne but has few missionaries since reaching them requires physical and emotional exhaustion. Those who try to reach this sub-culture must first learn their foreign language, world-view, and value system as well as earn their respect which is not an easy task. Over the years many tried to reach them only to give up in frustration so today the only ones who attempt always have a specific calling from God to this group.
What is this unreached people group? It isn’t another religion, nationality, or culture but children in the first through fourth grade in Australia’s school system.
I love ministering to kids with the Gospel even though it is exhausting. Their hearts are tender to the message of Jesus Christ at an early age and their desire for acceptance gives us wonderful opportunities to share Christ’s Love. Furthermore the younger ones still think that hide and go seek, freeze tag, and playing with trucks while making the vroom vroom noise is still fun.
Of course reaching children isn’t all sitting in the floor playing with monster trucks. Towards the third grade they enter into what I like to call the “question phase” of their spiritual life that involves thinking up the hardest question they can about God and asking people such as their parents or schoolteachers. Eventually these questions will be directed to Believers since few people actually answer their questions, and the answers they do receive aren’t satisfactory. Sadly many Believers are unwilling to answer them so those who minister to children face a series of questions that make final exams seem like an open book quiz. The stress of these questions cause many people to either quit trying or just give another answer that doesn’t really help at all.
A few months ago I began teaching a religious education class to third through sixth graders on Monday afternoons. During the first session I sat at a table surrounded by nine kids all of whom were looking at me with “we don’t know if we can trust you” faces. Wanting to break the ice I suggested we go around the table and tell everyone our names along with something about us (instead of using my standard ice-breaker “how about those Yankees!) We got to the third student who instead of telling everyone his name turned to me and said “I want to ask you a question.”
Suddenly the room got very quiet and nine pairs of eyes immediately turned to me, I felt like a cowboy at high noon….pretty sure some tumbleweed rolled by and somehow Clint Eastwood showed up. “Have you ever cursed in your life?” The boy asked and then stared at me with his clear blue eyes. I attempted the common “well what do you think?” response hoping to change the subject but was soon reminded I hadn’t answered the question.
I admitted to using words that didn’t glorify God but always asked His forgiveness right away. Immediately a girl asked me why I asked God for to forgive me and that’s when the tidal wave of questions came. During the next fifteen minutes I explained why we know God is real, why God exists even though space satellites cannot see Him, why I am not afraid to die, Heaven and Hell, what happens if a person doesn’t believe in God, and other questions which made me frantically try to remember my college Theology classes.
Since that day I have faced many hard questions from those kids and am able to share the Gospel while answering each one. But none of that would have happened If I hadn’t answered the first question honestly and embraced my mission field.