Start with the Kids

I believe that we can have a glimpse of the future through the eyes of the kids today.

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It was 2009, panahon ng Ondoy since my last teaching stint sa mga bata. Kung babalikan ko yung mga panahon na yun, I can say it was not the best of times, obviously. I am an assistant preschool teacher thensa isang community school, and a fresh graduate of an accounting course. I took the teaching offer as my thanksgiving to the Lord for helping me get through college.

Typhoon Ondoy brought me tears while I am in that ministry. The school was submerged in mud and water – makapal na putik mula sa sahig hanggang kisame. Ang mga mesa ay nagkabutas-butas, mga upuan ay nagkabaklas-baklas. Ang mga libro ay humalo na sa putik. Wala na halos mapakinabangan. All the school property was destroyed. The ministry of the school has to respond to a very challenging question: what’s next after Ondoy? We are to start again in the middle of the school year. By God’s grace, my ministry experience as an assistant preschool teacher has experienced formal graduation on March of 2010, as well as my involvement in Children’s teaching ministry.

Fast forward
I was invited to share a familiar gospel story sa isang Children’s event. It was a thrilling experience, siguro dahil di na ako sanay o di talaga ako marunong mag-make face o magmodulate ng boses pambata. Pero overall, the experience made me think of important lessons in the ministry:

1. If you want a glimpse of the future, look at the kids.
Masarap balikan ang mga panahon natin (kung part ka ng 90s kids or earlier) kung saan napakasimple ng buhay. Naglalaro lang tayo ng mga lata at tsinelas, mga goma, balat ng kendi o ng mga pinitas na dahon masaya na tayo. Minsan nga di na natin kailangan ng props – habulan, taguan at asaran lang solb na. Pero aminin na natin na parte na lang yun ng ala-ala natin at tayo ay tumatanda na. Kung dati ipis lang ang kilala natin, ngayon ay panahon na ng mga iPad, iPhone at iHop. Dati dumadayo pa tayo sa mga library ngayon ang library ay accessible na in a click or tap. Ang mga laro ay di na masyadong physical but virtual. Kung dati naghahabulan ang mga bata sa kalsada, ngayon ang hinahabol ay kung sino ba ang ama ng bata.

Nagbago na at patuloy na nagbabago ang lahat sa kasalukuyang henerasyon, and before we know it the future has already arrived. We are advancing too fast, real fast.

If you are wondering what kind of future is in store for us, just look at at the kids. They are so intelligent that they can easily operate their gadgets while their parents remain clueless and dumbfounded. They can react accordingly, can reason intelligently and can argue emphatically, minsan dramatically pa nga.

I believe that we can have a glimpse of the future through the eyes of the kids today. What do they possess? What do they value? As far as I can see, the future is exhilarating and full of wonder.

Kids today have access to too much information that we ourselves were not able to know during our childhood. Masyado silang matalino. And if our generation, and those before ours, has led us to the technological advancement we are enjoying now, can we imagine where these kids will bring humanity in the near future?

I believe that we can have a glimpse of the future through the eyes of the kids today. What do they possess? What do they value? As far as I can see, the future is exhilarating and full of wonder. Ang mga bagay na parang imposible dati, baka routine na gawain lang nila soon. Yung technology sa Star Wars at Capsule Inc. baka maging totoo na. Overseas travel will be very convenient and communication efficient. The future can be very exciting! However…

2. If you want to make a difference, start with the kids.
This is where the big pause is to be emphasized. Ika nga ni Uncle Ben, with great power comes great responsibility. Kids possess too much potential, but unfortunately they aren’t that responsible yet. They enjoy their resources but has no regard to the ultimate Source. Ang mga pabebe girls nga di na raw mapigilan.

“If you want to change the world, begin with the children”. Bakit nga kaya? Because they are the message we bring to the world we will not be able to witness. Sila ang legacy na iiwanan natin.

So as responsible adults it is our duty to inculcate values which will direct them to the right path.

Sabi sa isang seminar na naattendan ko, “if you want to change the world, begin with the children”. Bakit nga kaya? Because they are the message we bring to the world we will not be able to witness. Sila ang legacy na iiwanan natin. And if we fail to mold them with the right attitudes and values, we are sending the future generations a clear message that we don’t care.

We can clearly notice how the kids of this generation is beginning to dwindle down in terms of values. Kung paanong sumagot sa magulang at sa mga nakatatanda. Minsan nga mas napapasunod pa nila ang mga parents nila. And since they are exposed to the dangers of the world wide web, they are no longer naive to the things that are supposedly for adults only. The world is within their reach and we are losing influence to these kids in every single moment we refuse to invest time in them. Yet they are not without hope. The influence of media and society has no final word on them unless we allow it to. As parents, kuya and ate to these kids, we are bestowed with the privilege to rear them with excellence and positive influence. As we do this humbling task of touching their lives, we are also touching the future.

3. If you want to learn valuable lessons, learn from the kids.
Amazingly, by just observing kids, we can learn life lessons from them. Most of us adults miserably fail at important areas in life. We don’t accept new ideas from others and we are so proud of our own accomplishments. We are sometimes self-centered and preoccupied with unending worry.

If we’ll just listen to the heart of their prayers we’ll know how much faith they put into it na ito ay mangyayari. Unlike us adults, we keep on worrying.

Yet the humility and teachable heart of a child is remarkable. In fact, even Jesus tells us to learn from the little children if we want to know the kingdom of God.

Kids are naturally full of faith and inspiration. Kapag nagtiwala sila na mangyayari ang isang bagay, in their vocabulary impossible is inexistent. If we’ll just listen to the heart of their prayers we’ll know how much faith they put into it na ito ay mangyayari. Unlike us adults, we keep on worrying.

“Eh ang kaso mga wala pa silang mga muwang sa realidad ng buhay kaya sila ganun”. Siguro nga wala pa silang muwang pero tayo naman, if we put our faith in the Lord like these children, we’ll realize that the reality of Jesus is enough for the reality of this world. The kind of faith our children possess is the epitome of faith God is expecting from us.

Kids are not just additional family members we receive from the Lord – they are treasures whose value never depletes over time. As adults, let us be the instrument of the Lord to shape them into praiseworthy citizens.

How to Keep your Ministry Unhealthy

Be a blessing to your ministry.

I have read from Doug Fields’ book about Youth Ministry that in America, churches are facing problems regarding people in the ministry who abuses minors. According to him, incidences like these happen just because of failure to screen the “ministers” properly. It is frustrating to hear that the ministries that are supposed to give glory to God are also, in other way, the reasons why people turns away from God. Instead of becoming healthy for God, they are becoming unhealthy ministries.I am not referring to any particular ministerial group. I just felt the urge of expressing my viewpoints on how to keep a ministry strong and healthy. I am just beginning to experience God in my teaching ministry and I am not yet exposed to lots of professional ideas regarding service to God. And these are just my own principles (if you want to follow the pattern of the world for your ministry) on how to keep your ministry (as an individual or a group working for God’s kingdom) unhealthy.

Doubt. Doubt that God has the power to do the impossible for your ministry. Doubt that He can change the hearts of your audience. Doubt that He is omnipotent. Doubt — that’s the first thing you have to do in order to keep your ministry unhealthy.

Entertain gossips. Gossips are one of the most effective ways to ruin your relationship with God and with other people, especially with your co-workers in Christ. If you are determined to maintain an unhealthy ministry, just listen at the gossipers around. however, there’s a more effective way: spread gossips yourself.

Be ineffective. Working for God’s kingdom requires wholehearted devotion, and to keep it unhealthy, one of the easiest things to do is to sit back, relax, and let others do the job God has given you. Be a burden. this will make things burdensome for others and and it will surely make your ministry a failure.

Be proud and arrogant. God detests arrogance. Treasuring up pride and arrogance in your heart will surely keep you off track on God’s purpose. Look on your co-workers with contempt. Depend only on yourself. But be prepared for God’s judgment.

Wander around the vision. All ministries (actually, even secular organizations) have a vision for hem to grasp in order not to wander away from their primary purpose. Thus, it will be of help if you will fill up your mind with Satan’s lies regarding your ministry. Don’t follow the instruction “Catch the vision” by your ministry leader.

Live an unhealthy lifestyle.
To complete the list, it is but logical to say that in order to keep the results unhealthy, be unhealthy yourself. Live a life unworthy of the calling you have received (Note: Unworthy!) if you are called to be “someone”, deviate from being that “one”. Indulge yourself in debauchery, lust, greed, etc. Make your lifestyle unpleasant to others.

To sum it all, in order to make your ministry a failure, just disregard the blood of Jesus. Don’t waste any effort to think abouth what He has done on that cross to save you from the fires of hell.

Ministries are given by God, and are meant for God. He is the one who gave us the abilities and personalities to fit into a ministry where we’ll be useful and will be a blessing.

Don’t think about how good He was, how good He is, and how good He will be. Don’t believe His powers and ignore His call. Wait for His second coming unprepared. And when you see yourself heading towards the direction of a wide opening towards hell, when you see yourself swimming in the burning sulfur, and when you meet Satan congratulating you for a job well done, then you can proudly say that your goal to keep your ministry unhealthy is abig success.

Ministries are given by God, and are meant for God. He is the one who gave us the abilities and personalities to fit into a ministry where we’ll be useful and will be a blessing. However, it is too discouraging to see ministries fail because the people who are supposed to be working for God are already working for themselves. Ministries should be God-led. It should be focused on God. It should be seeking the power of God. It should show the awesome works of God.

It is not yet late for a change. Be a blessing to your ministry. Surely, God will bless you also. Call onto God and He will keep your ministry in tact and heading towards God’s ultimate plan. By the way, ministries are God’s, not ours. And the word unhealthy is inappropriate for His ministry.

Rhetorical Questions

If you are in the midst of trouble right now, always remember: God wants you to depend on Him.

When I first entered Children’s Ministry, I thought it is very easy. I thought I just have to learn how to keep children from roaming around whenever classes are going on, giving them pieces of paper to draw their favorite Bible characters or scenarios, make them listen to their teacher, listening to their (sometimes) silly stories, etc. Pero mali pala. Children’s Ministry is not just about playing with children nor keeping them in an area where they could not disturb others. Children’s Ministry, just like others, is meant to transform lives — not just the children themselves, but their families and communities as well. Nakapanghihinayang nga lang kasi natutunan ko ang prinsipyong ito after so many frustrations (at hanggang ngayon, hindi pa rin ako tinatantanan ng mga ito!)

Marami-rami na rin akong pinagdaanan with regards to Children’s Ministry, and I almost broke out. Madalas kong tinatanong sa sarili ko kung worthy nga ba ako sa gawaing ito. The work is too noble for me, and I have a lot of doubts reagrding my competence. Maraming experiences na ang pinagdaanan ko sa naturang gawain. And most of these experieces, hindi ko malilimutan yung mga painful, yung mga frustrating. And these experiences gave birth to my questions:

Why does God allow His workers fell neglected?

Why does God alllow HIs workers suffer nights with tears?

Though I prayed hard about the task God gave me, why does it end a failure? (Of course in my own perspective)

Why is it a life dedicated to His service is full of struggles? Isn’t that God promised an abundant and happy life?

Why is it that some people have no appreciation, nor didn’t even recognize my efforts in the ministry? (Wala lang, nakakapanghina lang kasi kung hindi ka pinapansin di ba? But I don’t have bitterness within me, I’m just asking…)

At ang pinakahuli at pinakaimportante kong tanong sa lahat:

Is a dedicated heart enough to continue serving through ministry?

Well, with all these questions in mind, I’ve realized how foolish and childish am I with regards to knowledge about God. Para ko na ring sinabi na hindi God si God. Para na rin pala akong nag-deny na may pinaniniwalaan akong Diyos.

These questions in my mind are but rhetorical. “Napakagaling ni Lord!”, I told myself. Ako na rin mismo ang sumagot sa sarili kong mga tanong. Then I remembered a very familiar story. One that I often relate with my students nang maging teacher na ako sa Children’s Ministry — the story of JOB.

God wants me to endure tears, pain and anguish, not because He just wants me to, but rather because He wants me to see how wonderful and awesome His love is.

Kung si Job nga, inspite of his righteousness, was allowed by God to suffer nights with tears, pain and anguish, ako pa kaya? Who am I compared with Job? Pero sa kabila ng lahat ng paghihirap niya, he received the crown of his perseverance sa piling ni Lord. Likewise, God wants me to endure tears, pain and anguish, not because He just wants me to, but rather because He wants me to see how wonderful and awesome His love is. Truly, His ways are so incomprehensible, and His works, ah! AWESOME…

“And these are but the outer fringe of his works;
how faint the whisper we hear of him!
Who then can understand the thunder of his power?”
Job 26: 14

Essence: If you are in the midst of trouble right now, always remember: God wants you to depend on Him. Kung wala kang trouble, you would probably tell yourself: “I do not need God!” But thanks be to God, because He wants us to depend on Him.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5: 7