Helping children find their identity in Jesus

  July 2016

I have the absolute privilege of going into one of the local primary schools every Wednesday lunch time. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t always feel like a privilege, I’m there rain or shine. I’ve been wet through to the skin, I’ve been there sporting shorts and sunglasses on beautiful summer’s days (there has been one so far this year!) and there have been times when I’ve needed to sit with my feet on a hot water bottle in an attempt to regain feeling to my toes! But I am privileged! I get to go into school, just to hang out with children, tell them about Jesus and love them for who they are. What an honour.

Over the last few weeks, as children are beginning to accept me and open up to me, I’ve found myself giving dating advice to the group of 8-year-old girls that flock around me. My best advice so far is, ‘If you have a boyfriend, you do actually need to talk to him!’

‘Abi’s dating advice’ has now developed into to sharing Christian values with regard to sex and relationships. These girls are 8 years old and I trained in children’s and family work rather than youth work for a reason, but children are being exposed to what we might class as adult subjects at a younger and younger age. These are issues that need to be addressed.

As I sat down with my scrambled eggs and avocado lunch one day, I began to reflect on this a little more and my heart just began to break for these girls and the society in which they’re growing up. We live in a culture that doesn’t teach ‘love waits’ but one that says its OK to have as many sexual partners as you like as long as you are safe. And this is filtering through to children in primary school.

How can we be salt and light in this battlefield, how can we build up a ‘love waits’ generation?

First I want to start with an encouragement, our part of the battle is to pray, God has the rest covered (2 Chronicles 20:15). Praying is something that we can all do, we don’t need a theology degree, a church leadership role or super spirituality, we just need a heart and our Creator has given one to each of us.

Pray for God to use you, to shape you and to burden you and then go. Love the children you have the honour of walking alongside, whether at church, at school or at home. Share your heart with them, share God’s heart with them. Tell those children daily that they are enough, they are beautiful, they are children of the King (Galatians 3:26) and they are chosen by him (John 15:16).

If our children, biological or spiritual, know that their identity is in Jesus and that he loves them regardless then they won’t search elsewhere for value, meaning, belonging and purpose. His name will be etched into their hearts and they will be rooted in him. Their Saviour.

Abi Bates is Kids’ Pastor at St Saviour’s Church in Sunbury.

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