earthen vessels, East Africa, and the gospel
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Laurent on Leading Children to God

Prayers for Bad Guy Evangelism

Don’t you love how children begin to grab on to spiritual truths? While I was away on a recent trip to meet with the Tanzanian pastors, Laura and the kids prayed for me. Ian was particularly concerned that our meeting might be overrun with “bad guys.” In the event that “any bad guys come to you looking for their bad guy friends,” he prayed that I would tell them to “listen to the true God!” But for better or worse, no bad guys came to listen to the true God.

Later during the same trip Pastor Laurent and I talked about leading children to God. There at the small table in his mud brick house I had the privilege of benefiting from his wisdom. I can’t replicate for you the beauty of his Swahili or how remarkable this conversation was in juxtaposition to the humble confines of the setting, but I think his thoughts are too good not to pass on.

Ian Camping at Laurents

Ian Camping at Laurent’s

I Got More Than I Asked For

Between conversations about church planting and Bible institute, we talked about family. Laurent had just finished sharing with me how some of his children had begun to express interest in baptism. To me, that begs a question: how does he know they are ready?

“How do you recognize that a child genuinely believes in Christ and repents from sin?” I asked. “How do you distinguish a child who is ready to be baptized from one who just agrees to be baptized because he or she wants to please his or her parents?”

The question that Laurent then answered was actually more fundamental the one I asked. He started without hesitation:

I want to encourage them to know the God who created everything. Even their earthly father is looking to know and belong to our Heavenly Father.

He had launched into a parenting philosophy on how parents lead their children to know and believe God. He continued,

We as parents want to give our children a desire to know their Heavenly Father as though knowing Him is a mystery for them to solve. And one day God will solve that mystery as they are looking for Him through His word.

Without speaking directly to the matter of baptism, he did address the concern expressed in my question:

If our children are looking to know their Creator, they will certainly love Him more than they love their earthly father. When they get to heaven they won’t be asking, “Where is my dad?” Rather, they will get there longing for their Heavenly Father, Creator, Savior, and Lord.

Where to Find Wisdom

If Laurent’s words don’t move you parents to pray similarly for your children, maybe it’s just something you needed to hear in person. On the other hand, this conversation may be a reminder that godly insights are not the preserve of highly-educated and widely-read pastor-authors in the West. “Wisdom calls out in the street” (Prov 1:20). Apparently, she is also found in a small thatch roof house in rural Tanzania with a father of twelve who rises early every morning to wrestle with the Scriptures.

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