Learning the Easy Way: Children Come to Jesus at Summer Conference

18 Oct

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“That’s Jesus?!” the boy cried, opening his eyes wide with wonder during a prayer exercise. “I always thought that was me!” The eleven year-old grinned from ear to ear, his face aglow with the joy of discovery: Jesus speaks to me, and his voice is familiar.  

This boy was one of fifty young people ranging in age from 4 to 18 years old who attended the July InnerCHANGE conference in Lovejoy, Georgia. A fitting locale for a week-long journey of recognizing the voice of God who rejoices over us.

This spring as I prepared for the conference I sensed the Lord’s invitation to redesign a curriculum first created for the inner city church I served in LA as a missionary. It’s called, “Welcome Home,” and it’s all about entering into the living room of Father God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit in order to hear the conversation of Heaven. It’s about helping God’s children find their place in his home (in his presence), so they, too, can join the conversation of love that moves the world.

Since the conference would be four full days, I knew to arrange the first three days to focus on each person of the Trinity, with the last day being set apart to emphasize our identity as sons and daughters. Coming up with the theme of the first two days was simple. Father God is always love. Jesus is our best friend. Then I got to Holy Spirit. How was I to capture Holy Spirit? Holy Spirit heals and Holy Spirit comforts and Holy Spirit enlivens, but sometimes (more times than I’d like to admit, actually) Holy Spirit serves to push us out of our comfort zone into risk. How could I capture such a multi-faceted part of the Living God in a catch phrase?

That’s when I heard Holy Spirit.

“Don’t worry. I’ll help you.”

It turns out Holy Spirit is easy to be with. I knew this experientially, as I guess you might, but somehow I’d never said these exact words before. Holy Spirit is easy to be with. And choosing them as the defining phrase felt, well, too easy. Was this really the essence of what the Lord wanted me to impart to the children?

I prayed. I tossed it around with a few people. I worried. After all, teaching children is a big responsibility, not something you want to get wrong. And again I heard.

“Don’t worry. I’ll help you.”

Easy to be with Holy Spirit was calling me back to the ease of being a child. So I kicked worry out by choosing the joy of the Lord, and I spent the next few months playing with him, crafting a curriculum that might allow all of us to creatively encounter the Trinity, our always Home.

And then this is what he did. He showed up! Kids saw and heard Jesus walking and talking with them. We experienced an unusual multiplication miracle that pointed to the way God sees and cares about the details. Kids were healed of knee injuries and headaches as they were prayed for by the teens. Children were overwhelmed by the intimate nature of God as they learned to give and receive prophetic words (personal messages of love from God). It was natural, and it was supernatural, and each element flowed right into the other—easily.

One child gave this testimony in front of all the others, “Three weeks ago I was trying to listen to God but I wasn’t sure it was him. But this week I know I’m hearing him.” Another child, who the parents said was wrestling with faith prior to the conference, came to me on Holy Spirit day with a very personal card in his hand that he had just “randomly” drawn from a basket. With awe in his eyes he looked at me and said, “This changes everything I think about the world.”  

You and me both, kid.

You and me both.

 



Picturing Our Prayers

Here are some snapshots of how we interacted with Father God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit during the week.


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Kids looked into mirrors with truths written in dry erase marker. They declared these true things out loud as they looked at themselves: “I am a child of God. I am always loved!”



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Kids used paint swatches to call to mind the different parts of God’s love. We created a walkway of color to remind us of the foundation of the manifold (literally “many-colored”) wisdom of God.



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We declared God’s always love over places in the world—with words and with stickers.



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Each child made a wall out of Lego, and then was invited to take it apart to make something new. They explored how God breaks through all barriers, and how nothing is wasted. Every piece of their story is now part of his new creation.


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Kids learned that “the key” to enter God’s presence is thanks and praise (Psalm 100). They practiced giving thanks and giving praise, and then they went on a treasure hunt to find their very own key hanging from a magnolia tree.

 



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Kids learned that their praise silences the enemy (Psalm 8). They put on these “fighting gloves” and declared, “The joy of the Lord is my strength!”

 



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Many of the listening prayer exercises we did together came from this slim but wonderful book, Eyes that See and Ears that Hear by Jennifer Toledo.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Catherine Rundle and her husband, Alastair, spent six years living and serving among the poor in downtown Los Angeles with their two children. They now live in Redding, California, where they are working to bridge strategic discipleship with the power of the Holy Spirit, in order to see a movement of God sustained and cities transformed.


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