by rob purdie
A common struggle for all people working and volunteering in various ministries is the challenge of being able to see or understand the impact of our efforts. It can be a source of frustration to wonder if what we’ve done has made a difference.
We were blessed, however, to see the results of impactful children’s ministry in our own children over the course 20+ years.
Our experience in a denominational church was a struggle for us both. But we saw to it that the classes that our own children were in were always staffed with loving, knowledgeable teachers (even if it often meant that one of us was teaching, as it did).
In another church, we saw a vibrant and caring children’s and youth ministry. We became part of the children’s ministry team as our own kids grew to love the youth group and teen ministries. We were grateful for the energetic and caring leadership of the programs.
Still, as a 4-5 year old teacher, I often wondered if my efforts on any given Sunday were really “taking root.”
We eventually left that church due to some rather unpleasant circumstances. It took me a long time even want to be in fellowship again. Then, after God (and Susan) convinced me to start looking for a church home once more, we couldn’t seem to find the right fit.
In this time, all three of our children began serving God in strong, impactful ministries. Laura is our middle child. For years, she had been called to children’s ministry in Haiti. When she saw the devastation of the 2010 earthquake there, within a week she had arranged transportation and a ministry to serve with there.
A few years later, our oldest, Megan, and her husband, Shane, began serving with a group called Youth With A Mission (YWAM). They travelled to Thailand and Vietnam as missionaries. When they returned, they joined the staff of YWAM San Francisco, where they still serve today.
Our youngest, Robbie, also did discipleship training with YWAM. He served in Mediterranean Europe, helping Middle Eastern refugees getting off boats and in refugee camps. After his return, he struggled with God’s call on his life. But now, he too serves as a missionary technician with CROWN Ministries, a branch of YWAM located at the University of Nations in Kona, Hawaii.
All of this certainly reaffirmed that we had made a lot of the choices God was steering us toward. And it all would have been confirmation enough for us.
But God had more . . .
After our negative experience, and many months, we found a wonderful church that Susan loved. And they managed to corral me by having an anointed Bible senior pastor, a fantastically blessed worship leader and a youth and kids ministry team that didn’t know the word “quit.”
Soon, we were part of that “no quit” team.
One day, not very long after we had become youth volunteers, we saw a young girl come in to the youth group of our new church home. While she looked familiar, I couldn’t quite place where I had seen her before.
After speaking to her and her family, we discovered she had been one of our 4-5 year olds at our previous church many years ago. Now a teenager, her fond memories of our earlier class were a reason she and her family would ultimately choose to join us at our new church.
People say that Jesus doesn’t have favorites. I disagree. “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.” – Jesus Christ, Matthew 18:1-5.
Most parents know that young people can be challenging. But every parent knows what a great reward it is to know that a child’s life is better, more joyful, because you’re a part of it. And we all can be.