And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven…” Matthew 18:3-4
During our trip to Africa, we visited a slum area in a village outside of Mbale-town. The main trade (and vice) of this area was a grain alcohol made from fermented corn. We met a small congregation inside the area who offered hope to their community. Many of the women participated in a Woman’s Enterprise project in which they learned how to form small businesses to sustain their families. The church was growing and truly beginning to make a difference in their small community.
But the amazing story behind the church left me awed at the mysterious way God works. As we sat and listened to testimonies and songs, a large group of children joined the meeting on the floor directly across from us. The pastor later told us they called the church the children’s church. A missionary visited this slum some years before and began the church with a seemingly solid foundation. Many in the community came to Christ, including children. However, at some point the missionary left and slowly the church began to dwindle as the members slipped back into their previous way of life. The children, however, remained.
And they prayed.
They prayed for their parents, their teachers, their community and their church. They prayed for God to save their community. They prayed until the adults began returning to the church.
We often think about the phrase “faith like a child” as all about being simple, and in comparison to being complex, it is. But just because it is simple, does not mean it lacks depth. Children are persistent, single-minded and determined. To have faith like a child doesn’t mean you follow along unthinking because you were told to. It doesn’t even mean having faith will always be easy and carefree. Becoming like little children means to allow ourselves complete dependence on God because we trust Him and love Him. It means clinging to Him when we are scared or we don’t understand what’s going on around us. It means pursuing Him with a single-minded focus, unrelenting because we long to just sit in His lap and be with Him.
Photo: Children’s Church in Uganda (2004)