She was the catalyst that turned my faith around. She made me want to be a disciple of Jesus.
I knew her as Mrs. Barragan. She was the Juniors Sabbath School teacher at the small but diverse Seventh-day Adventist church my family and I began attending in Armona, California. It was during the middle of my sixth grade year, a time when God was nothing more to me than a character in a storybook called the Bible and church was even less relevant to my daily life. But I went to church anyway with my family out of force of habit.
As I continued on in Mrs. Barragan’s class, she struck me as someone who genuinely cared. She always opened her home to our bunch of church preteens for Friday night Bible studies or Sabbath afternoon get-togethers. She led us on multiple excursions to reach out to our surrounding community. She wasn’t afraid to talk about the “hot topics” we often questioned, mediate drama between friends, get us involved in different ministries at church, and support us in our growth through it all. She modeled Jesus’ love to me in a way I had never experienced with other church people before, or as I like to put it, she loved me into Jesus. This Christian who seemed to know Him so well made me want to know Him for myself.
Anyone who interacts with children is uniquely positioned to draw them into discipleship to Christ. Whether a parent or guardian, school teacher or coach, neighbor or volunteer, your display of Jesus’ love could be the catalyst that turns a child’s faith around. As Mrs. Barragan showed to me, modeling Jesus’ love isn’t limited to the formal Sabbath School or Bible study setting. Modeling the love of Christ also happens (and perhaps is most effective) in hanging out at home, in serving in the church and the community, in facing times of doubt or conflict, and in celebrating times of growth. In other words, as you simply do life with kids, loving them like Jesus could very well love them into a relationship with Jesus.
But how exactly do you do that as an adult with children or who works with children? Children’s Ministries will be hosting an interactive parenting seminar called “Way of Life,” aimed at showing parents, guardians, and anyone who works with children how to nurture them spiritually. With speaker Gamaliel Feliciano, senior pastor of the Washington Spanish Bilingual SDA Church, this free seminar will explore how to establish a spiritual alliance with children, how to incorporate prayer in parenting, how to discipline children in the context of creating disciples, and more. Join us to learn some practical ways you can nurture children to be disciples of Jesus! To find out more and to register, click here.
It’s my prayer that all who have children or work with children model the love of Jesus to them in everyday activities. Who knows? Maybe like me, when those children are grown, they’ll look back on their discipleship journey and think of you as the one who loved them into Jesus.