The story is told of a woman taking her children to a new restaurant in town. When their food arrived, her 8-year-old son asked if he could say the blessing. They bowed their heads and the child said, “God is great, God is good, thank you God for the food — and I would even thank you more if mom gets us ice cream for dessert. And liberty and justice for all! Amen!”
Other diners chuckled at the innocence of the child — except for one woman who remarked, “That’s what’s wrong with this country. Kids today don’t even know how to pray. Asking God for ice cream! Why, I never!”
The boy burst into tears and asked his mother, “Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?” She assured him that he had done a terrific job and God was not mad at him. An elderly man approached the table, winked at the boy and said, “I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer.”
“Really?” the youngster asked. “Cross my heart.” Then the man added, “Too bad she never asks God for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes.”
The mother was determined to buy ice cream when her children finished their meal. The boy who had prayed stared at his ice cream for a moment, then surprised the entire restaurant crowd. He picked up his bowl of ice cream, walked over and placed it in front of the woman. With a big smile he told her, “Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes, and my soul is good because I know Jesus.”
It is amazing how words of wisdom can flow from the mouths of children. And yet, we live in a world where loving children is not a priority in the lives of some people. Jesus is our perfect example of loving children. Look in scripture and you find He always makes time for children. In Mark 9:36, Jesus says, “And He (Jesus) took a child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms He said unto them, ‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but Him who sent me.”
In Mark 10:13-14, we read that young children were taken to Jesus so He could touch them. When Jesus’ disciples rebuked those who brought the children, Jesus was very displeased and said to the disciples, “Suffer (allow) the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for such is the kingdom of God.”
There’s more. Mark 9:42 says, “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and he were cast into the sea.”
Because Jesus always welcomed, cared for and loved children, so should we. In this issue, you’ll read stories of several Kentucky Baptist ministries that focus specifically on loving children. You’ll read about Sunrise Children’s Services and the heavy burden it has of caring for children who have no one else to care for them. You’ll read about Oneida Baptist Institute and its challenge to share Christ with every student enrolled in grades K-12. You’ll learn how Crossings has had its mission of providing life-changing camps for children and students interrupted.
You’ll also see how other Kentucky Baptist ministries incorporate the principle of loving children into their work.
Our desire is that this issue will encourage you — and convict you — of how easy it is to say we love children, but yet be content to sit on the sidelines and not put those words into action.
It was 11 years ago that my wife and I had a wake-up call. We worked with youth in our church for a number of years, but it was an adoption conference in Franklin, Tenn., that rocked our world.
Our son and his wife were deep into the process of adopting a son from Ethiopia. They asked us to attend a conference with them — a conference that changed our outlook forever on the need for adoption. I’ll never forget the story told by a couple who had three biological children, then adopted six children. They said their lives went from “ordinary” to “extraordinary.” That conference opened our eyes to the great need for adoptive parents.
Amid multiple emotional ups and downs, the adoption process resulted in us having a 7-year-old grandson. Then three months later we welcomed a 7-year-old granddaughter, also from Ethiopia. We cannot imagine what we would have missed if Kashiku and Lemlem had not come into our family.
When I look at the five grandchildren our two children gave us in 5½ years, I can picture our grandchildren being in that group that wanted to be close to Jesus, learn from Him and have their lives touched forever by Him. I recall last year when our 12-year-old grandson posed a question to his cousins (ages 7 and 8) about original sin. Quite a conversation, to say the least. That reminded me of the inquisitive nature of children and that we must introduce them to the gospel at a time when their hearts are tender and open to receiving the truth about Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins.
Loving children should be a priority for every Christian — love them by telling them about Jesus. Don’t turn your back on those in need; care about the orphans in their distress; be diligent to find ways you can show the love of Christ to the vulnerable in our world.
Chip Hutcheson is interim managing editor of the Western Recorder, the monthly magazine of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.