Bless the children

There are way too many news items about children these days. We see their torn bodies pulled from the rubble in the Middle East. We see them being used a political pawns in the immigration disputes. We see them being taught to hate, to fire weapons they can hardly lift, to strap explosives on their bodies. We see them stricken by horrible disease. We see them abused and abandoned. There is no more damning indictment of our world than how we treat our children.

Standing near the playground of our day school, I was watching children play the other day. I was drawn by their laughter and squeals. They had invented a new game (which required throwing everything they could find over a fence.) When victory was achieved and some object went winging out into space, they cheered. When the object fell short, there was a rush to work together for a more successful launch. I finally figured out the adjusted object of the game: make the preacher pick up all the stuff and throw it back over the fence so they could keep playing. Taken in by their obvious approval of my performance, I kept retrieving and heaving. It took me a while to catch on.

I love their creativity, their imagination. Their energy wears me out. I realized from my own children that each is unique and possesses wonderful individual traits and qualities. I’ve never met a perfect one, but I certainly do know a lot of cute ones, bright ones, insightful ones.

At our last children’s moment in worship, we were talking about what it means to be a part of the church. We showed them some pictures of different churches and then a picture of ours. The steeple on our sanctuary soars 200 feet. When it was erected, it was the tallest steeple in Atlanta. Now with commercial cathedrals dwarfing it, the steeple doesn’t seem so imposing.

I asked the children to tell me why we have a steeple. Here are a few of their ideas:

  • The steeple points other people to God.
  • The steeple tells you where to come to church.
  • The steeple tells you that Jesus is around.

I have a feeling that I learn more from children than they learn from me. I am so grateful for their inquisitive minds and open hearts. It grieves me when I see children victimized and marginalized. Hold your children a little tighter today. Give God thanks that you have been made stewards of these precious gifts. Listen in on a few of their prayers:

  • Dear God, my brother is a rat. You should give him a tail. Ha, ha!
  • Dear God, please send Dennis Clark to another camp this year.
  • Dear God, I want to be just like my daddy when I get big but not with so much hair all over.
  • Dear God, I think about You sometimes even when I’m not praying.
  • Dear God, my mom takes care of me. Who takes care of You?
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About Mark Wilbanks

Dr. Wilbanks became Wieuca’s fifth senior pastor in February of 2012. Mark’s father, Oliver Wilbanks, served as Associate Pastor here from 1966 to 1982. Wieuca had a tremendous influence in shaping Mark’s call to ministry during his teenage and young adult years. A graduate of both Southern and New Orleans Baptist Theological seminaries, Mark has served churches in Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia. He pastored Southside Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida for 17 years and Bradfordville First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida for ten years. He and his wife, Kim, were married in 1979 and have two sons, Andy and Jordan. Andy is married to Lindsay and they have a son, Cade, a daughter, Ruthie, and welcomed their third child, Samuel, in October.

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