A Voice for the Children...

It’s time to sleep but I can’t wind down. My mind is filled with thoughts of the children I saw tonight at the Parenting Seminar. I don’t think we expected much of a turn-out tonight. It was late in the week and people had to come straight from work or from a far village to attend. It’s the first program like this that we have ever offered. But they came…trickling in from the back of the sanctuary a few at a time. 64 registered and more came after. It was a bit rushed trying to pack a lot of teaching with interpreters into a short period of time, but it was so, so, SO good. Robin and I team-taught once again and the people again asked for the notes afterward. These are HUNGRY people.

Huddled in the back corner of the room were children. I wore a velvet skirt tonight and one of the little girls wrapped herself around my legs and just rubbed her face against the softness. They are all so beautiful! After the service, during the chaos of picture taking I had opportunity to kiss a sweet baby’s cheeks and bless another. In my heart I thought, “YOU are why were are here, little ones.”

We are their voice - the voice of the children. We share what they wish they could share with their parents, pastors and teachers. We help their leaders to SEE and value them. We equip their teachers to disciple them. We train their parents to raise them in godly ways that don’t shame or hurt them. And while we talk, they listen. I know while we are talking, they hear their own heart speaking.

I remember many years ago after a Sunday service in a very large church outside of Lagos, another small child. He was one of the many, many children who were not allowed in the sanctuary. Children stayed outside playing or sitting in a room in the back while their parents attended church. Sadly, the church didn’t understand the importance of children’s ministry. I preached with all my heart that day, distracted a bit by the children peeking in all of the church windows, whispering and watching. As I left the children swarmed me and one little boy pushed through the crowd and - like the little girl earlier tonight - wrapped his arms around me. Looking up at me he said, “Thank you for what you said about us!” He changed my heart forever that day. From that day until now I know that when we teach God’s plan for children, we are THEIR voice…the voice of the children.

Today was busy. We spent hours going over the plan for Word Clubs here and have laid a solid foundation that I know will allow this discipleship plan to explode here in Nigeria and in other parts of Africa over the next few years. I am so blessed and thankful for the HCI Africa Team who share this vision and are working tirelessly in this ever-growing work. They are truly amazing.

Please pray that all of the seeds sown here in Nigeria this past week will root deeply in the hearts and minds of those who heard. Pray that God will bring back to remembrance the teachings shared and will heal broken families, encourage godly families and establish more opportunities for child discipleship in this crowded country. I love Nigeria and her children will always have a huge part of my heart. Thank you for supporting this trip. I appreciate you more than you know. Believing to have funds to cover all expected and unexpected expenses and to leave in a travel fund for our HCI Africa team to use while taking this training to old and new places here and throughout Africa. There are more children in need of a voice…

Carla Ives