Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Receptive hearts! (OJT Report, part 3)

If you want to work in an area with the most receptive hearts, consider the field of child evangelism. “It is still true that children are the most susceptible to the teachings of the gospel; their hearts are open to divine influences, and strong to retain the lessons received.” Desire of Ages, page 515.

Here is the story of Alyssa* who was in charge of the child evangelism for the OJT site located in the island of Luzon. The church she and her partner were assigned was small, but united in serving the Lord! On the first Sabbath, she was given the privilege of teaching the Sabbath School lesson. The topic was the sanctuary and many questions were asked! Many in the group didn’t totally understand about this important doctrine of the sanctuary and afterwards Alyssa* said, “I was inspired when God guided me to answer their questions from His Word and that they learned something from it. In the afternoon, I was asked more questions and it showed me more than ever that those dear people wanted to learn more!”

She added later on: “One lesson I learned there was to go out even if there’s just two of you, for God will surely be with you!” Friday, the starting day, came and there were still many flyers to be distributed. When she asked around for volunteers to help in passing them out, no one responded. So, Alyssa* determined to go out alone, but God touched a mother’s heart to help her. Now, there were the two of them walking the streets, inviting people to come to the seminar. While they were passing out flyers, God sent two young people to help out and now they were able to go to even more houses and invite lots of kids and adults.

That night, almost 50 children came to the meeting! As the days passed on, Alyssa* became more acquainted with the children who were attending her program each night. She commented on the experience: “This week, I really saw the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of the children, convicting them of God’s holy day. When I did the Sabbath illustration using the 7 jars and made an appeal for who wanted to taste the blessing of the Sabbath, all of them heartily answered, “Yes!”

That next Friday came and because the kids didn’t have class in school, Alyssa* invited them to help her cook the food in preparation for the Sabbath. All of them were so excited to help her! What a great time with the kids she had! While helping to cut the vegetables, they laughed, told stories and asked lots of questions about the Sabbath and how to keep it. Alyssa* just loved answering their questions because it showed they were very eager to follow everything the Bible says. After cooking, they ate lunch together. As they went home, she was so happy to know that they understood that Sabbath is a special, holy day and that they would not play with their toys, cook their food or wash their clothes on the period of time from sundown Friday to sundown Sabbath.

Who has the most receptive hearts? It’s definitely the children!

Alyssa* said: “This week, we presented the topic about spiritualism and ghosts to the children. The day before, when I announced that tomorrow we would study about that, one of the girls approached me and told me that she regularly sees ghosts. Her friend confirmed that she really does and wasn’t telling me lies. After I presented the topic the following night, she came up to me and told me stories of what she had seen before. God gave me the inspiring experience of listening to her tell me that when she learned the dead are in their graves, cannot visit their loved ones and that the “ghosts” are just Satan’s angels pretending to be their dead relatives, she wasn’t afraid anymore! She told me that she just prays whenever she sees a ghost again and that now she feels that angels are in the darkness, not terrifying ghosts!”

Yes, even small children can understand the Bible truths about what happens when a person dies! 

Commenting more about it, Alyssa* said, “I learned that kids are indeed so receptive of the truth. Once you teach them the truths from God’s Word, they are very willing and even eager to accept and believe it right at that moment. And once they’ve learned about the truth, it doesn’t stop there. Their young minds burst with questions to understand even more! This is when God taught me to not skip or ignore even one of their questions. Children have such confidence in the Bible when you teach them what it says!”

And children are not afraid to take a stand for the right, no matter what anyone says. Alyssa* described an incident like that: “This week I experienced God’s love in the way He worked to bring the message to the children at the right time. The schedule of teaching about God’s health laws fell right on the day before that community’s fiesta, where the tables in all the homes were filled with abominable foods and drinks! Just the day before, the children had learned that pork is unclean, that God doesn’t want us to eat it, that it has worms inside and that those who eat it are not taking care of their bodies. The next day, some of the children told me that they had pork served in their homes, but because they already knew it was not healthy to eat, they wouldn’t touch it! Some even told me that it was “yucky”! I praise the Lord for His great love to these children to help us teach about the health message right before that important community day!”

In the last week, a mother came to Alyssa* and told her that though she had not been attending in the program, she had still heard the message. Because she had listened every night from their little store and was so impressed with what the children had been learning!

Another thing that brought joy to Alyssa*’s heart was to see the children fulfilling the pledge they made to have a 10 day trial to try God’s health plan and see if He wouldn’t bless them too just as He blessed Daniel and his 3 friends. They told her when they came to the program that they weren’t eating the unhealthy things they had learned about and how much they enjoyed God’s plan!

Some of the precious children!
Sometimes God speaks to children as in this case that Alyssa* told about: “One child told me his dream about Jesus. He saw Jesus going to a church where there were no idols and then He invited all the children to worship there. I thought that was a great time to make an appeal, so I asked him if he had ever thought that he might be one of those children that Jesus was calling to worship in a church without idols. I also asked him what he is going to do with the truths he learned during our program and he told me, “Teacher, I will follow it!” I praise God for that!”

One of the children who attended so faithfully was the most diligent and attentive one of them all. She wanted to be baptized so badly and had already asked her father many times for permission, but he always said, “No!” Alyssa* felt convicted to talk to the father herself and see what he would say. When she did, the father still said his daughter could not get baptized. The conversation shifted to answering some of the father’s questions.

He told her this was the first time for him to hear the teachings of the Seventh-Day Adventists during the adult seminar (he had been listening from inside his nearby house) and Alyssa* was able to answer many of his questions. Then she appealed to him to support his daughter’s decision to be baptized and he agreed. Then he also said he wanted to learn more about the teachings of our church and study the Bible!

Commenting on the story, Alyssa* said, “Surely, the greatest challenge in the children’s program is how to talk with the parents when their children want to be baptized. It is only as you kneel in prayer to God and ask the Holy Spirit to give you the right words to speak, that your appeal will make any difference on their hearts. I believe that when I was talking to that girl’s father, the Holy Spirit was speaking to him and he listened. He also told me that he had been into many religions and was really searching for the truth. Now he was very open to study more about what the Bible says.”

Most likely, that young child will eventually lead her father into God’s true church! Children are instrumental in reaching their parents. What a joy it was so see that girl being baptized on the last Sabbath of the seminar!
That special girl

Alyssa’s advice to others was:

“In handling the children, it is not only them you are working for. It’s very important to visit their parents and build good relations with them, too. Invite the parents to the adult program too because it will be easier for them to decide to follow the truths together with their children than if the children only learn them alone.”

Keep watching for more stories to be posted soon!

*Not her real name.