You never know what the children in your ministry are facing at home. The questions asked by the children often relate to something they have faced, or are facing in their life. On Sunday mornings, I always have a time of prayer, asking the children if they have anything they want to pray for or to thank God. Recently, a child shared about something his cousin had done and it was something I did not expect anyone to share. What surprised me was that they shared as if it was a “common” thing in their neighborhood.
At the end of the lesson, that same child asked a question which has become far to common for me to hear. It really had nothing to do with the lesson, and that’s okay. The question they asked was, “If someone kills themselves, do they go to heaven?” You need to be careful how you answer that question. Usually that question is personal on some level. About a year ago, another child asked me the same question. In that case, I knew that his father had committed suicide years before. This time it was different. I did not know what was behind the question. As the conversation continued, they mentioned that their cousin (a different one then the one mentioned at the start of class) had killed himself that very morning. The question was very real to them at that moment and a real concern.
It was sobering to hear both of the things that they shared that day. I could never fully understand the things they were facing at home. Did I plan to hear that when I prepared for the class? No. But you need to be prepared when those questions come.
Here are some tips:
- Don’t show surprise – If something they share throws you for a “loop”, then they will know that you are not able to help them
- Don’t end the conversation – You do need to be careful what is being shared in a room full of other young children, but I believe that the way I handled the initial prayer request built trust. I would listen, and not start “preaching”.
- Lead them to Jesus – often in times like this they are looking for some hope. Jesus is that hope, but don’t force it, don’t be “preachy”
- Build trust – some things must be reported to authorities and when that occurs, you must report that to the appropriate people, but let them know they can come to you to talk, that you are someone they can trust.
The question and previous conversation is a sobering reality. We don’t know what the children are facing at home when they come into our care. Times like that kindles something inside that makes us want to do more to reach them for Jesus. Our hearts ache for them.
Are you ready for the whatever the children in your ministry may ask, what they may be facing? Are you ready to face a sobering reality?