Children through a different lens
By Mbas Ngan David Emmanuel
During a youth camp in Cameroon, children shared tracts throughout the local neighborhood and community. They even shared with soldiers and preached to them, making good use of their high energy level, their simplicity and flexibility.
Such enthusiasm, courage and joy of children in doing mission activities is often underestimated or even ignored by their churches. The harvest is plentiful and the workers are few. The Church must commission and spread out her labourers into missions; and empowered children can also be members of that harvest force. From the boy David who killed Goliath to the little boy who gave his loaves and fish to Jesus to feed the crowd, we see throughout scripture how children are used of the Lord to accomplish His purposes alongside adults.
The current situation in many countries is that children and youths are not involved enough in missions for various reasons. Our attention was drawn to an aspect of the problem during a seminar we facilitated in Yaoundé in 2020, with ONE HOPE (www.onehope.net). Using Cameroon cities as a sample, we discovered that in most countries, children spend more than 50 hours weekly in school related activities and only two hours maximum in Bible related activities. School appears to be the most important thing, more important than church.
The modern idea is that children should not engage in long intellectual activities that do not contain play. Children are encouraged to play more than they read their Bibles. This has also affected the Church. We are told that children are too fragile to concentrate for long. This poor investment in children does not help them grow to their full spiritual potential. Other reasons are: undervaluing the capacity of children, current world trends, TV programmes and the internet.
We believe the solution is varied, and if well synchronized, will bring results. Parents and children’s ministers need to intentionally take full responsibility for exposing their children to more biblical content and stories of field missionaries. Children’s ministers and their ministries should be taken seriously and empowered. Resources such as the Accelerated Christian Education System can also be used in Christian schools.
Children and youths need to be exposed to the gospel and to the Great Commission in a more creative and relevant way according to their age groups. Christian children should be reminded of their privilege in having access to the gospel, so they will value it and feel for those who lack it. We must also check what our children are exposed to and confront it with what the Bible teaches.
The Church herself needs to fully return to missions. Churches should share experiences with one another in order to enrich what each church is doing. We have experienced a better intentional involvement of children in missions through our own activities and activities with our partners. With the Protestant Baptist Church Works and International Missions (EPBOMI), we have seen a special empowerment of children and youths in missions through teaching, field experience and age- and gender-specific home fellowships in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Children also venture into missions through the empowering actions of Child Evangelism Fellowship, Samaritan’s Purse, One Hope and the Children in Missions Network of the Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI).
We saw children acquire a burden for the unreached through the Global Day of Children and Families Praying for Unreached People Groups in June 2022. Through their locally adapted Accelerated Christian Education System, a missionary couple in Yaoundé, the Wambas, transformed the lives of many children, helping them to perform well, leading them to the Lord, and making them missionaries right from their young age.
To summarize, children, who in Africa are more than half of the population, are arrows (Ps. 127:4) that must fulfill their God-given purpose. It is the responsibility of parents and children’s ministers to disciple children according to the Lord’s ways (Prov. 22:6). Missions is good for children. It is high time we return to biblical ways to have other Timothys, Jeremiahs, Davids, Josephs, and many more for the cause of global missions. May God bless the African Church with children in missions. Shalom!
*I recommend these two websites to better understand the situation with Children in Missions :https://maniafrica.com/children-in-missions-network-cimn/ and https://www.aboutmissions.org/statistics.html
Mbas Ngan David Emmanuel is a Cameroonian missionary based in Yaoundé, who has pastored local assemblies. He is currently the Vice-National Coordinator of the GO Movement in Cameroon (www.gomovement.world), the Coordinator of Missions Fest International in Yaoundé (www.missionsfestinternational.org), the Secretary General of Opération Josué (www.operationjosue.org), the National Coordinator of the Missionary Synergy – SYMIS and the Coordinator for Cameroon and Central Africa of the Movement for African National Initiatives, MANI (www.maniafrica.com). +237 677 642 984 ; firstname.lastname@example.org