Author - Sam Balmer, Bible Education
Sam has been married to Louise since 1988 and they have three adult children; Victoria, Matthew and James. They have been involved with Postal Bible School all their lives, but in the past 20 years have coordinated a centre in Northern Ireland. In 2006 Sam and Louise left secular employment and now serve the Lord full time in three areas of ministry – Bible Educational Services, Fermanagh Christian Fellowship and Sow2reap Trust. Sam travels extensively to encourage and train Bibletime users across the world.
We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.
The need of the children
Children’s needs have not changed over the centuries.
They still need care, attention, love, aged-related fun and education – and they still need to be taught about Jesus Christ. Just as when Jesus met children when he was here on earth and blessed them, so children today need to encounter Jesus in order for Him to bless them.
However, one of the greatest challenges facing the church today is teaching children about the Bible and Jesus, when many of their world views are being shaped by a biblically illiterate society. There is a growing need worldwide for using readily available, biblical, culturally contextualised materials to engage with children and youth.
The number of children
In the UK the population of young people under 15 is 17.6% of the population, while in Zambia they record 46.03% of the population as under 15 years old. In India 38.6% are under 15 (an estimated 350 million) and China 17% are under 15 (estimated at 237 million youth).
In 1960 it was said there were 1 billion children below 15 years of age, 35% of the world population.
In 2017 it is estimated there are nearly 2 billion children in the world, approximately 26% of world population.
These statistics can be overwhelming but there are many evangelical organisations working in hundreds of countries to reach young people with the good news of salvation. This is bearing much fruit, as many become believers, are discipled and then seek to reach their own peoples.
Just as when Jesus met children when he was here on earth and blessed them, so children today need to encounter Jesus in order for Him to bless them
The confusion of children
In a society with increasing secularity and the removal of identity, we are soon going to be faced with a generation who will not refer to fathers or mothers, sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, grannys or grandads, aunts or uncles BUT simply parents, children, siblings, grandparents & relatives. The move to gender neutrality is a massive agenda. How can this challenge be met, to share with children the already difficult concept of a loving Father? To teach them that that they can become a son or daughter of the living God through faith in Jesus? These are real and current challenging issues.
Praise God that there are great resources available, such as the LIFE, GSUS live and Key to Life exhibitions from Counties, that can assist churches and groups to communicate in a current and relevant manner the truth of how our identity can be in Christ as taught in God’s Word.
The neglect of children
Physically – so many children in our world, and not just in the majority world, face physical neglect in hygiene, food nutrition, and in not having enough clothing or shelter.
Educationally – with the breakdown of the family unit and the increased pressure on a parent or guardian, this often leads to addiction becoming part of the child’s life, resulting in children being left to look after themselves, do their own homework and go to school if they wish.
Mentally – the above-mentioned areas compound the increase in mental health issues among children and young people. This is growing at an alarming rate, with many schools now needing to provide in-house counselling to help children.
Spiritually – children are often confused in their understanding of spiritual issues, as their worldview is dependent on so many variables e.g. home and family input, culture, churched or non-churched, age, peer groups, etc.
Where do we fit in?
Prayer – please pray for the children in your family, the house beside you, the schools you attended, the school and churches you pass every day, the neighbourhood around you. Pray, pray, pray!
Support – many churches and ministries seek to minister locally and internationally to children and youth – support them through prayer, volunteering or the provision of resources and finance.
Go – why not go to a church or ministry near you and see how you can assist them in reaching and teaching the next generation? Then they in turn will teach the next generation, even the children yet to be born!
by Sam Balmer