Debbie and I were invited to be part of a team that was providing children’s ministry for a conference of Arab christians, mostly from Egyptian and Syrian descent. More than 70 children took part, ranging in age from 7-14.
The first night after inquiring of the group, we discovered that not one of them could tell us how to be born again. All of their answers had to do with good deeds making them acceptable to God and being their grounds for entering heaven one day. It was as if they were all in bondage as slaves to a spiritual Egypt.
After a salvation message, a dozen kids responded to an invitation to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
In the ministry time that followed, we laid hands on the children who responded to the gospel. As the Holy Spirit quickened their abilities to hear and see in the Spirit, many were granted visions and encounters with God. Afterwards some testified of seeing angels, the cross, and the face of Jesus. One child, after he came out of the deep presence of the Holy Spirit, shared that he was actually taken up to heaven in a vision.
Another little boy, aged nine, shared during our testimony time that he had not accepted Jesus yet. However, he then went on to say that Jesus had told him that He would be forgiving him. Upon hearing this, one of the adults helping us immediately took initiative and ushered the boy into a side room. She gave him his own personalized gospel message and invitation.
This little boy was under deep conviction. He told her that his church taught that he could be forgiven only 39 times and he was sure that he had used up all of his chances! Our helper assured him that Jesus’ forgiveness was infinite. Knowing this, he was then able to receive the forgiveness that he had been promised. Jesus showed him the angels as she prayed over him afterwards.
We asked him during snack time what Jesus had done for him and he responded that Jesus had cleansed his heart and he was now forgiven.
During the second night of the conference, there was even more freedom of the Spirit. Usually, we have found in doing outreaches, that the first night is always more of a challenge. There is a spiritual realm to be broken through. In the wake of a first outreach, there is a perceptible difference in the atmosphere with much more openness and less resistance being encountered.
This night was no exception. We watched the Holy Spirit do even more. Another 30 children responded to the invitation to receive Jesus.
Debbie shared about how Jesus can heal our inner wounds. This was very significant because we were in the midst of a deeply traumatic time in our own lives. There was much wounding that had been done to us but also much forgiveness being granted on our part.
Debbie led a corporate ministry time where many were touched. Just looking at the expression on the sea of young faces during the ministry time was so encouraging. A hot button was being “pressed” and Jesus was bringing healing and release.
The Spirit then led us into a time of deliverance ministry from occultic influences. Many of the children had been experiencing torment and Jesus delivered them.
As the ministry time continued, more kids testified of visions. One boy saw Jesus’ hand reaching out to welcome kids into His kingdom. The little 9 year old boy mentioned above also testified of seeing another vision. This time, he saw Jesus sitting on His throne in heaven.
One might be tempted to wonder if young children are really making true decisions for Jesus. Debbie, herself, accepted Jesus at six years of age and remembers it vividly.
We always keep in mind that children do not have a “junior version of the Holy Spirit”. He can touch them, bringing the new birth, at very young ages.
In conclusion, a Barna Survey found that over 80% of those who get saved do so before the age of 14. Another approximately 10% receive Christ between 14 and 18 years of age.
The survey concluded with a very important question. Why are the resources of the Church largely invested into reaching a population that is the most resistant to the gospel? In other words, statistically only 10% of adults will be open to receiving Jesus. Put yet another way, this survey is soberly stating that if one does not accept Jesus before the age of 18, there is only a 10% chance of ever receiving Him.
We write these stories not only to honor Jesus and His saving power but also to encourage others that there is so much opportunity to see His kingdom come, especially with the young.
Let’s join together in the cry – “More, Lord! Birth more souls into Your kingdom!” May we all take advantage of the opportunities that He places before us in the Church, the streets, and even within our own families.
Dan and Debbie Murrill