We all think the major characters are the most important, but it can be the minor characters that have major impact.
Peter de Koning asked me on Mother’s Day Sunday what my mom meant to me in my faith development. For a few moments I couldn’t even speak or process the question because of just how much of a role my mom played in my faith. She prays over me. She encourages me. She nags me (I love you Mom!) when she feels I need some spiritual prodding. She saw enough of where my life was headed when I was a teenager that her and my dad got me to go and explore what it means to be a follower of Jesus in a one-year program at a Christian school in Europe. And God used them, and this program, to alter my life.
Whether we take the time to recognize it or not we have been shaped and formed by people God has brought into our lives. And as Rachel Pipher reminded us of in her Fall article for The Reader, “Children, by nature, need support. They rely on others in order that they might grow into strong and healthy teens and, later, adults.” So, I’m sure if we gave ourselves the space to think about how we’ve grown in our faith journey we could easily come up with the support we needed and the people God brought into our lives to provide that support and to help us increase in our love for Him.
There are many narratives in God’s word that teach us this—that our faith is passed down from one generation to the next, and that our faith is passed along by role models and those who look out for us and whom God uses to alter our lives. One story that has gripped me that follows this theme is the story of the boy-king, Josiah, in 2 Kings chapters 22 to the end of chapter 23. Josiah became king at the tender age of 8, and where he came from was not bright at all. His father was not a faithful follower of God, he “did not walk in the way of the LORD” (21:22). But when Josiah was 18 he gets to hear the Scriptures read to him when they have been discovered and dusted off after long disuse at the temple and God gets a grip of his life and it leads to his own personal repentance, and then to leading a national revival. The gods that were long allowed to pollute the land, and that were a direct break of God’s covenant, were absolutely and utterly disposed of. The festivals used to help the people to remember and to worship God for His provision were reinstated to the degree that the writer makes specific mention that “surely such a Passover had not been celebrated from the days of the judges…nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and of the kings of Judah” (23:22).
This narrative grips me because I envision a generation of children growing up to be youth that I think of as a “Josiah Generation.” What makes my heart beat faster is the idea that our children can discover the Bible as Josiah did, that they can encounter God as Josiah did, that they can be utterly convicted and transformed as Josiah was, and can lead our church, their homes and schools, and ultimately this nation into radical obedience as Josiah did.
But the way that Josiah got there wasn’t because he discovered the Bible by himself, read it by himself, and confirmed it for himself, but it was in community. The role God can use us to play in the lives of our kids are like the minor characters in the story, the community. We can be Hilkiah the priest who first read the “book of the law” and gave it to Shaphan to read; and we can be Shaphan, who also was so convicted he brings it and reads it to Josiah (22:8-13). We can be Huldah the prophetess who gives God’s message to the king, withholding nothing and confirming what was read (22:14-20). God can use us as He uses these minor characters who played BIG roles in Josiah’s life. So what is God asking you to do?
From Children’s to Youth Ministries (newborns to 18 year olds), we need a community of people willing to share God’s word. We need people to show God’s love through service in teaching, mentorship, and leading. We need people who can build community by preparing and sharing snack. We need people excited to lead out in the proposed Friday Night program for children and youth, that will continue to bridge kids from the community to our church. We need program leaders to commit by season (Fall, Winter & Spring), to lead games and age-specific bible studies.
And that is what I would like to call you to, and to be in prayer over. We have this opportunity to impact the kids in our midst, by being Hilkiahs, Shaphans, and Huldahs to them. What is God calling you to do? What role could you play? The potential is enormous and exciting! Please feel free to come and talk to me and Rachel or to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com) and please feel free to ask any questions you might have.