Feature

A Movement Among Us

“And a little child shall lead them . . .”

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There is a movement afoot in the Church today, bringing with it fresh ideas, shifting focus and new strategies. This movement has the ability to completely shake what we thought was most important and to challenge us to look anew at what our churches value. This movement is about kids.

In 1990 Christian strategist Luis Bush coined the term “10/40 Window” to refer to the geographical region of the eastern hemisphere, located between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator, where the largest group of unreached people live. For more than 20 years, missions agencies, denominations, churches and individual Christians have pulled together to reach the 10/40 Window. Encouraging indicators show that the continuing effort is bearing fruit. In 2008 the annual growth rate of Christ followers in the 10/40 Window was almost twice that of those outside it. In 1990, 2.5 percent of the population in the 10/40 Window were Christ followers; in 2005 that number was 4.7. God is at work!

In 2009 Bush urged a new missional focus: the 4/14 Window. Instead of a geographical region, the 4/14 Window refers to a demographic age group. There are 2.2 billion kids in the world, and those aged 4 to 14 are the largest unreached people group today. In the United States, most people who make a decision for Christ do so between the ages of 4 and 14.

We must realize that reaching this generation will require an effort as concentrated and focused as that given to the 10/40 Window. Before the age of 13, kids are deciding what they believe; after age 13, they start defending what they believe. Imagine the impact if we raise up a generation of Christ-following kids who have a biblical worldview, who understand that lost people matter to God, who grasp the power of prayer and who are willing to take risks because the God who loves them has called them to. It just might change what our world looks like. It just might change us.

The wonderful thing about kids is that they know no social boundaries, and their enthusiasm for life is contagious. I could tell story after story of lives—and whole families—who have been changed because of God at work through a child. What would happen if kids aged 4–14 began reaching their families, their friends, their teachers—and beyond? We have before us a challenge and within that challenge, a blessing. The kids of today are poised to change the teenagers, college students and adults of tomorrow.

Alliance churches across North America are revamping their children’s ministries with the 4/14 Window in mind. Outreach specifically toward children is becoming a top priority in many C&MA churches. In Belgium, Wisconsin, leaders at Alliance Community Bible Church have just hired their second staff member, a children’s director. Members of this little church have a heart for the lost kids in their community, and through the help of the district and a private donor, they are making aggressive steps to reach them. At Grace Church in Middleburg Heights, Ohio, the theme for children’s church is GLOCAL—Global Reach, Local Touch. The workers are introducing kids to other cultures with the goal of lowering barriers and allowing their kids to be open to God’s call to minister in any situation in the world. At Faith Community Church in Red Oak, Iowa, every fifth Sunday of the month has a missions focus, where kids learn about other cultures, hear what God is doing among those people and places and spend time praying for lost people both near and far.

Whether they’re volunteer or staff, these children’s leaders have taken up the call to raise up world changers. They’ve seen the open window, and they’ve recognized their role in the effort. As we reach the 4/14 Window, I believe we are going to see God at work in the least expected ways, through our very littlest for His glory.

To find out more about the 4/14 Window, go to: http://4to14window.com/. To stay up to date on children’s ministry in The Alliance, “like” us on Facebook! You can find us by searching “C&MA Children’s Disciplemaking.”

A Lesson in Prayer

One of my worst childhood memories was when I saw my mother threaten my father with a knife because he was trying to stop her from taking another drink. Her addiction to alcohol began before I was born, but I didn’t notice until I was about six, when her drunken rages would wake me up in the middle of the night. Once, I crept downstairs to the living room to see what all the commotion was about. The place was a mess, with potted plants and broken glass strewn across the floor.

When she wasn’t drinking, she was a wonderful mother. One of my most cherished memories is listening to her read Bible stories to my brother and me at bedtime. During a good portion of my childhood, my biggest wish was that she would stop drinking.

My father had taught me to pray as a toddler, when a severe storm triggered recurring nightmares. He prayed with me every night, asking God to give me good dreams. I don’t remember exactly when the nightmares stopped, but I know that eventually they did.

One night when we were getting ready to say my bedtime prayers, Dad led me in a prayer we soon called “The Prayer for Mommy.” We said this prayer every night for many years, asking God to help her to stop drinking.

For a long time it didn’t seem like our prayers were making a difference; if anything, the problem escalated. My father became desperate. I’m sure he also worried about whether my brother and I were safe in her care while he was at work. One evening, Dad came home to find that Mom had wrecked the car, but she had no recollection of an accident.

Being Catholic, Dad knew that divorce was considered a mortal sin. Nevertheless, he told our favorite priest, Father Trippani, about Mom’s drinking and confessed that he wanted to divorce her.

Father Trippani was very sympathetic. But he asked my dad one favor. “Don’t take any action today; wait 24 hours before you file for divorce. I’m going to pray for your wife tonight and ask God to help her to stop drinking. Please just give me one day.”

After that night, my mom never had another drink for the rest of her life; just the smell of alcohol was enough to turn her stomach.

Although I am now an evangelical, I praise God for the faith of the Catholic priest who travailed in prayer all night for a little girl’s mother. I also thank the Lord for giving me a dad who taught me to persevere in praying, even when it seems like the answer may never come.

—Julie Daubé, alife assistant editor

Past Alliance Life Issues

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