On Feb. 29, children from around the state gathered at Canton First Baptist Church to participate in Children’s Missions Day. MYRIAH SNYDER/Index
CANTON – If events like Children’s Missions Day can “convince these kids to love their neighbors and to serve them, we may not need a church planting revolution in 100 years.”
That’s what Andrew Holley, a North American Mission Board church planter and pastor of Citizens Church in downtown Decatur told The Christian Index as he attended and spoke at the Children’s Missions Day at Canton First Baptist Church on Feb. 29.
The churches that will exist in the future, led by the next generation, “may just be much better than my generation in actually loving and reaching the tangible needs of our neighborhoods, making the relational impact as well as the institutional impact that churches are already doing,” he explained.
Holley, who described himself as a “pastor to people who don’t believe in Jesus yet” to the kids, continued, “The way that I teach my kids and the way that I’ve been teaching the kids here today is that a missionary can be someone who goes to Zambia or the Czech Republic, or a missionary can also be someone who delivers a sandwich across the street.”
He added, “There are people who are called by God to gives their lives as missionaries, but also most of us, to some degree, are poised to be missionaries and called by the Gospel of Jesus Christ to live as missionaries in our everyday lives.”
Children’s Missions Day, sponsored by Georgia Baptist Women and begun by National Women’s Missionary Union, was a day filled with exposing Georgia Baptist kids to missions, equipping them for missions, and sending them out into the community to experience missions.
230 volunteers, speakers, and kids came to the event that’s in its 12th year. The purpose, Karen Pace, Georgia Baptist Women’s children & preschool consultant, said, is “to engage kids and their parents/leaders in opportunities to share the Gospel while serving and meeting the needs of other people.”
Kids were equipped for missions by learning how to share their faith through LifeWay VBS “The Gospel: God’s plan for me” bracelets.
Keith Egner, First Baptist’s children and family pastor, explained what each symbol on the bracelets meant.
- A crown – God rules.
- An X – We sinned.
- A cross – God provided.
- A gift – Jesus gives.
- Raised hands – We respond.
He challenged each child to explain the bracelet to a friend then to muster the courage to explain it to someone in the sanctuary they didn’t know. To practice it a third time so they would be well equipped to share with those in the community, he had them share with a friend one last time.
After the time of worship, encouragement, and training, the children were sent out in groups into the community. Some ministered to senior adults by spending time and playing Bingo or Pictionary at local assisted living homes. Others did a community service type project at a local YMCA. Some brought cookies to a local fire station and, in return, got a tour. Others made posters for the Children’s Haven and Cherokee Family Violence Center’s Superhero 5k.
While one group was out in the community, the other half of the kids interacted with missionaries in small groups and heard more about what they do – and why they do it.
“The one thing I would want children to take away is that at any age, God can and wants to use us to share the truth with people He puts in our paths,” Pace shared. “Wherever we go or live, we are surrounded by people who need to know the great love that God has for them and that they can be connected to God through a relationship with Jesus.
“My prayer is that the kids (and leaders) would return to their own communities and be bold in sharing the Gospel message.” Pace also hopes that by the exposure to real-life missionaries, kids will understand, “that God calls the ordinary to share the most extraordinary message.”
Myriah Snyder serves as content editor for The Christian Index.