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How (NOT) to Push Children Away from God Part I

          I struggle with this every Sunday.  Our house stands on the same lot as our small local church.  I'm trying to establish a health garden around the house that my wife so deserves. Hence, I'm zealous in protecting the lot from stray animals, thieves, and yes, even kids.

          Our computer shop extension is still unfinished so the tables and other rickety stuff are exposed to children.

          But Sundays bring worshippers of God -- with  their children.  Children, at least in poor rural areas such as ours, will want to play outdoors.  They will want to run around, climb trees, pick flowers, pick fruits.  They will trample on plants, scatter mud, sand and all sorts of dirt all around.   Nuisance, that's how I see them most of the time (even as I listen to the pastor preach).

          Our church building does not have room for children's Sunday School nor an open field to play on. Our workers have their hands full and they don't have materials for Sunday School.  Kids are forced to either bore themselves sitting with adults in church or improvise fun outside.

          So yes, I feel guilty every time I call their attention and prevent them from crossing boundaries.  I feel guilty because I fear I am pushing them away from church, that I might be a reason for kids to think of church as a place only for adults, where they cannot be the kids that they really are.

          Didn't the Lord Jesus admonish us to "Let the little children come to [Him] , and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as [them]? (Matt. 19:14) NIV

          Didn't the Lord Jesus also teach me about child-like faith, that "unless [I] change and become like little children, [I] will never enter the kingdom of heaven"? (Prov. 22:6) NKJV

          I am afraid that Sunday after Sunday I might be missing the point so two Sundays ago, I gathered the kids. They didn't have a Sunday School teacher.  My 6 year old nephew was with them.  I could see the fear in their eyes as I called them.  "What did we do wrong now?"  "What part of the lot are we supposed to avoid this time?"  "Did one of us break anything?"  "Have we trampled on uncle Aboy's plants again?"

          Why should I even bother?  God whispers:  Your plants will grow back. You can always trim, replant, or transplant.  You have the skills to repair damaged chairs.  You can saw, hammer and paint.  You have several shots at starting over with these things but these kids have only one crack at being children.  

          Their anticipation turned to smiles of relief and shouts of "yes!" when I led them to the old nipa hut and told them I was just going to ask them to draw something. "Yes, drawing!" they shouted.

          "Draw what you like doing here in church during Sundays."  This is what they came up with:

The church building on  the left and our house on the right.  The small thatched hut will be demolished in time for an outdoor kitchen/work area.  It is currently functions as our children's Sunday School room when the rain is not dripping through the roof.

I often catch her picking guavas from my lone bush or playing with my garden tools.  Yes, she gets a stare from you-know-who. :-(

          All of them talked about their family and playing outdoors, along with learning about God.

          Hopefully I started building a bridge for them and God instead of constantly pushing them away. 

          That's the start.  For months I've been thinking about this so the next project would be to start building a shed and a play and Sunday School area for them.  I can probably build one out of bamboo posts and nipa roof so church can become both a place of fun and spiritual learning.

My nephew, Third, playing "pagulong" with one of the church kids. 

Children playing on the street when it's not raining  We receive 10 months of rain yearly.



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