What It Really Means to Save a Child
Gary D. Erickson
Do we value children with the same measurement that we measure adults? The following anecdote is revealing. Someone proudly told me that thirteen and one-half people were filled with the Holy Spirit in a recent revival meeting. I asked, “What do you mean by one-half person?” She jokingly said, “One child!” Is it not disheartening that we use such prejudiced and distorted measurements of people? In reality, the saving of a child could be the saving of an entire lifespan; whereas the saving of an adult many times is saving only half a lifespan or less. In addition, adults have baggage. Some will debate with you as they struggle with many false ideas they have collected over the years. Adult conversions mean that many years have already been wasted. But with the conversion of a child, the potential of an entire lifespan devoted to the service of God’s kingdom is there. Children are open and ready to be taught the truth without argument and indifference.
The disciples used the same incorrect measurements of people’s value. They rebuffed the children with condescension and arrogance. They felt it was their responsibility to shield Jesus from unimportant people. The disciples’ attitude is obvious—they valued adults more than children! Even in our modern culture, the punishment for killing a child is not as severe as the punishment for killing an adult. Our laws protect human life, except for the unborn children. It is sad that this disregard for human life has deteriorated to such a barbaric level. The devaluation of the child has brought about a calloused, insensitive heart for the unborn in our culture.
C G. Weeks preached a revival meeting in the remote town of Noble, Louisiana, many years ago. He was disappointed with the results because only one little boy received the Holy Spirit. He should not have been disappointed because that little boy was J. T. Pugh. Today J. T. Pugh’s photograph and biography is posted in the World Evangelism Center’s archival display as a member of the “Order of the Faith” of the United Pentecostal Church International. He was one of our finest! This story could be retold in countless ways around the world simply by changing the names and places of those who had similar experiences.
Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt to avoid the jealous paranoia of King Herod. If the parents of Jesus had not valued the life of their newborn child and remained in the familiar town of Bethlehem, the child would have been killed and the entire world would have been lost. Even though the saving of our children does not have the same magnitude of significance, it illustrates the value of one child. It is impossible to put value on a soul. Being blinded to the future, we never know who these children will become.
Baby Moses’ mother put him in a homemade floating bassinette and left it among the reeds of the Nile River. She was desperate to save her child from the Egyptian decree of death. He was rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter and then nursed by his own mother. This helpless little baby was saved to become a revered prophet, an outstanding leader of the Hebrew people, and he gave us five books of the Bible.
What does it really mean to save a child? It means you have responded to the Great Commission and preached the gospel to “every creature” (Mark 16:15). It means you have reached down to the marginalized of society and fulfilled the mission of Jesus. (Matthew 25:40-46.) It means you have obeyed Jesus’ command concerning the children: “Forbid them not” (Luke 18:16). It means you may have potentially saved an entire lifespan and not just a portion of it. It means you have saved a child from many sin-induced scars on their spirit, memory, finances, family, health, and emotions. It means you have lightened the load of the parents of the child by seeing the child empowered by the Holy Spirit and getting the proper training for the good life. It means you have assisted in giving birth to another soulwinner. It means you have introduced another worker into the kingdom of God: missionary, minister, godly business person, Christian school teacher, wealthy giver to the church, or Christian artist. It means you have assisted in bringing another worshiper into the church. It means you have contributed toward the saving of another eternal soul. That’s what it really means to save a child!
How do we do it? We stop measuring people with a faulty prejudicial mentality and place as much value on children as on adults. We love children with the love of Jesus. We encourage and support Sunday school teachers and children’s ministers. We encourage the training of Sunday school teachers and children’s ministry workers so they become proficient in reaching our children. We make sure our teachers are provided Oneness Apostolic curriculum so that our children are established in sound doctrine. We cultivate a church culture that emphasizes the value of children and evangelizes them and trains them. We stop giving the least to the ones we say we love the most. We give liberally of our finances to the ministry of children
Remember that every outstanding adult was once a child. Childhood should be a time of sensitive education and indoctrination. Children liberally absorb the world around them. Every butterfly, cloud, and raindrop is new and fresh to their unjaded minds. Every word, gesture, and image is consumed with impressionable fascination. They are quickly forming their worldview. Like a magnet being dragged through a box of metal filings, everything clings to their sticky little minds. They learn more readily and more quickly than we adults. The things they learn have greater impact upon their behavior. Teach them, and teach them well. It’s the greatest investment we can make. Then you will know what it means to save a child.
Gary D. Erickson serves as the director of the General Sunday School Division of the United Pentecostal Church International.
This article “What It Really Means to Save a Child” by Gary D. Erickson was excerpted from: Pentecostal Herald magazine. September 2010. It may be used for study & research purposes only.