What Am I Grateful For Today… Children’s Ministries

15 People were bringing babies to Jesus so that he would bless them. When the disciples saw this, they scolded them. 16 Then Jesus called them to him and said, “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children. 17  I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it” (Luke 18:15-17, Common English Bible).

In my sermon this past Sunday, I talked about sin, repentance and forgiveness. I linked these subjects to commandments. I mention this only because what Jesus is saying in today’s lesson sounds much like a commandment. “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid or hinder them. If you do, you won’t get heaven yourself” (My paraphrase).  Those verses show me the importance of children’s ministries.

Over the years, I have devoted quite a bit of time to children’s ministries. Several years back, when I came to a new congregation I was told my job for Vacation Bible School was to teach the adult class. I responded by saying I would find someone to teach the adult class but I thought it was important for me to spend that week with the kids. That is just what I did.

A couple of days ago I talked about a ministry called “Clean Water for Haiti.” Because of the high mortality rate among children in Haiti due to water-born illness, I believe it to be important. I would carry that a step further. I believe an argument can be made that Clean Water for Haiti is in itself a children’s ministry.

Last summer Cindy and I started working for another ministry that does work with children in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. These are two of the poorest countries in the world. What does New Mission do? Here is what their website says:

“For over 30 years, New Missions has been establishing local churches and Christian schools in Haiti and the Dominican Republic—providing children with education, food, and medical care so they can grow strong and make an impact in their community.”

New Mission builds schools, churches and medical facilities. They make a difference in the lives of these children. As the children reach adulthood, they will make a difference in their country.

They also, each year at Christmas time have “The Shoe Box Drive.” Part of what is packed in the shoe box is to help the kids with their school work. The other is to help with daily life and bring them a little joy. From the Shoe Box Drive website, these are the kinds of items to go in the shoe box….

BOY
Preschool & Kindergarten (3-6 yrs.)
• whistle
• harmonica
• small ball
• toy cars
• stuffed animals
• coloring books
• markers
• Play-Doh
• stickers
Primary (7-11 yrs.)
• soccer ball/pump
• jacks
• coloring book
• markers
• small cars
• journals
• playing cards
• kite
• yo-yo
• kazoo
High School (12 yrs. and up)
• soccer ball/pump
• watch
• athletic shorts
• baseball cap
• razors
• solar calculator
• playing cards
• necktie
• headphones
• water bottle
• bike repair kit
GIRL
Preschool & Kindergarten (3-6 yrs.)
• doll
• hair ribbons
• stuffed animals
• sundress
• coloring books
• markers
• skirt
• Play-Doh
• stickers
Primary (7-11 yrs.)
• hair ribbons/ties
• nail polish
• jump rope
• coloring book
• markers
• costume jewelry
• stickers
• sundress
• journal
• lip balm
• small purse
High School (12 yrs. and up)
• nail polish
• headbands/hair accessories
• feminine hygiene products
• manicure set
• sports bra
• solar calculator
• journal
• costume jewelry
• headphones
• water bottle
• small purse

Efforts like the Shoe Box Drive are simple ways of making a difference in a child’s life. It can change a child’s life.

I am grateful for the Shoe Box Drive but really I am grateful for any ministry that makes a real difference in the lives of kids here and well beyond.

That is what I am grateful for today. What about you? What are you grateful for today? Write it in your journal and share it with someone today.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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