by Janet Evert
INCHELIUM, Wash., December 7, 2015 - It began with tent meetings the little Inchelium Adventist Church held in the community*. Along with the large tent for adults, we put up a smaller tent for the children. To our surprise, more Native American children than adults attended the nightly meetings. They joined wholeheartedly in the singing, gospel presentation -- using the Truth4Youth program -- and crafts.
During the two weeks of nightly meetings, we presented many of the Truth4Youth topics, but there were many more programs the children had not heard. Why not continue the meetings on a weekly basis? Would the children come?
They did, in fact, 10 to 12 children faithfully attended, with about half being from the Native American community. Each Tuesday evening when they arrived at the church, we offered healthful snacks and then moved into the program, ending with a craft.
Following the completion of the Truth4Youth program, we did a series based on Psalm 23, with lots of interactive elements. The kids loved it—especially the “paths of righteousness” and the “valley of the shadow of death.” By the end of the series, most of the kids could recite all or part of the 23rd Psalm, and all had a much deeper understanding of what God could do for them and in them.
After a summer break, a local parent insisted that we start up the weekly program again—and offered to round up children herself. With this encouragement, how could we refuse? This time we gave the program a name, “Kids’ Club.” The very first week, about a dozen Native American kids ages 4 to 12 attended and enthusiastically participated. We are currently going through the Bible, starting with the creation story. It’s been thrilling to hear children who had had no concept of the plan of salvation not only learning but sharing what they know with others. A 10-year-old girl reported having spoken with over 20 of her friends about God’s power during the past week!
Along with the program, we offer a quality craft each week—something the children will be proud of and will treasure. We also offer fun prizes and a take-home poster or tract that they can share with a friend.
Our church has had a hard time reaching the community. We’ve tried many things, but although the locals are generally warm and friendly, they have seldom responded to the gospel. A dozen children may seem like a small number, but to us it is huge. We believe that many parents will be touched through their children—and we are already seeing this happen. One parent—the mother of a lively little boy—told us, “Thanks so much for teaching my son.” She then asked if we would be willing to pick him up for Sabbath School, as well. Several other parents have attended church services and have requested Bible studies.
Offering a quality weekly children’s program is quite a large undertaking, but church members have rallied behind the project, and are assisting in many ways, including picking up children, preparing and serving snacks, providing prize items, handling registration, running equipment, leading song service, doing graphic design, and, of course, presenting the program. Other church members have volunteered to be part of the “Adopt-a-Lamb” program, in which individual children are matched with a mentor who connects with them, shows them God’s love, and prays for them.
We know there will be setbacks—the enemy will see to that. Most recently, the local school scheduled weekly sports activities on the evening the Kids’ Club meets. However, we also know that if we are faithful, God will bless—and we will see precious souls in the Kingdom.