Faithful little efforts
By Kate Azumah
Fajara’s parents informed his Sunday school teachers, “You made trouble for us!” Ten-year old Fajara had shared the gospel with his Muslim friend at school, and he gave his life to Christ. Back home his friend told his parents about the decision he had made that day. But they were not as pleased as he was, so they confronted Fajara’s parents.
Young Fajara was only doing what he had been taught in his Johari Sunday school class at Nairobi Chapel, Ngong Road. Every week, his teachers give him and his colleagues devotionals. They are encouraged to gather a few friends weekly during school lunch time and spend ten minutes sharing God’s word with them. Fajara’s experience is one of the testimonies from parents and schools about the outcome of such little faithful efforts by the Sunday school children.
Pastor Bella, the Next Generation pastor at Nairobi Chapel, shares the church’s interest in children as far as the Great Commission is concerned. “Church planting is at the heart of our church vision and when we send church planters, we also strive to send children workers. This ensures that the church not only reaches adults, but is also intentional about reaching children and equipping them to reach others also.”
Nairobi Chapel’s children’s ministry, QUEST is organized into two categories; the 2-5 year olds in the Kiota cluster and the Jasiri cluster for the 6-11 year olds. Upon arriving at church, the Kiota children go straight into their various sub age groups where everything happens. The Jasiri cluster meets together for large group worship and teaching, before breaking into their small groups for discussions. The 0-2 year olds in the crèche are not left out. The church makes time for their parents to sing and pray over them during the service.
Outreach and giving
Fajara’s church adopts Jesus’ outreach model in Acts 1:8, and their immediate environment is their Jerusalem. They have various initiatives to reach adults and children within their vicinity. The Quest Centre is one of them. It has a sports arena that welcomes children to play football and receive coaching, thereby providing a strategic opportunity to share Christ and disciple them. The Center also has a reading and feeding program to provide avenues for evangelism. Some of the children in the church join and serve in these programs.
Apart from the children they nurture at church, Nairobi Chapel also has weekly outreaches to schools where they sometimes reach as more than 7,000 children in a week.
Tree of Joy is a Christmas giving project which cultivates in the children compassion and kindness towards those in need. The children are encouraged to save some money over the course of the year. During Christmas, they buy a meaningful item as a gift for another needy child within a school or children’s home context. Pastor Bella adds that this teaches the children the values of brotherly love, selflessness, gratitude, and working hard to help others.
Adventures in Prayer
Just as the adults have a prayer guide, the children do too. The guide helps them to pray for their families, their friends, and the nation. This year, as part of their “Samaria” outreach, they have been praying for Kenya county by county in the run up to their National elections. Every October, they join in the Africa Children’s Prayer Day. This year’s theme is “Bless This Nation”, and throughout September, they are engaging the children in 30 days of prayer leading to the event. Each day has a Bible verse and an item for prayer.
Another prayer initiative for the pre-teens was teaching on persecution and sensitizing them about the 50 most persecuted countries. Pastor Bella says the teens were surprised to find that Kenya was forty-nine on the list.
Growing in missions
Nairobi Chapel considers the philosophy of ‘Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ in their training of children. When children are young, they are at home and may not have wide- or far-reaching connections. Their influence is within their daily circle of friends and neighbours. The church trains them to reach this circle. As the children grow older, they can widen that circle as they accompany adults on outreach programmes in their own city. In situations like this they can share from their possessions and from their hearts.
By the time the child is grown, he or she understands thoroughly how to do personal evangelism and reach those around him or her. He would have also developed a burden and a habit of praying for the lost, and hopefully participated in a mission trip to reach those farther away.
Challenges and potential
Pastor Bella admits that there never seems to be enough finances to cover the need, but God has allowed them to make His impact with what He has provided. Growing partnerships with parents can also be tough in a society that does not perceive the capabilities of children, and this limits their involvement.
She believes there is no need to assume children cannot do it. “They are great evangelizers, promoters and marketers. They are the first to champion things. We don’t have to babysit them, but rather invest in them and provide opportunities for them to reach others. Children are very receptive as the 4-14 Window indicates. Imagine what 1,200 children can do as they reach other receptive children every week.” [see article page 8]
The African Child
To conclude, she shares what the African child can contribute to evangelization and global missions. “The Great Commission was not given to adults only; children are part. African children have their simplicity and sincerity to offer. Their lives are uncluttered by the sophistications of riches and technology. In that spirit of simplicity, they can share the unadulterated gospel with sincere hearts and a genuine faith.”
Photo at top by AIMStories