Innovative Program Reaches Natives Through Their Children
The argument had grown to a heated discussion when I arrived at the car. Neither Lanessa or Kaitlyn would relinquish their claim to sit in the front seat so I could take them home from church. Kaitlyn had gotten the seat first, and Lanessa stomped her foot and wailed. Julie patiently waited in the back seat.
“Teacher Lisa,” Julie finally piped in, “let’s ask Jesus to give them clean hearts. Jesus says, ‘Ask, and ye shall receive.’” Her deep brown eyes were so earnest, so sincere.
After a simple prayer of faith, I looked into Lanessa’s tear-stained face. “Jesus gave you a clean ‘sharing’ heart, didn’t He?”
A sweet, dimpled smile crept over her face. “Yes!” her head popped up. “I want to sit in the back seat.”
Seeing God transform children’s hearts before my eyes is the most rewarding work in this world. Inchelium Church, located on the Colville Indian Reservation, has had the privilege of participating in this work with a weekly child-evangelism program, Growing and Exploring, launched in March 2003 to reach their Native American community through the children. Church members personally invite the children and provide their transportation.
The program, which takes the children through Steps to Christ, combines the fresh beauty of the Bible stories with captivating music, illustrations, interactive health nuggets and cooking adventures, nature discoveries, crafts and activities that reinforce the lesson.“You know what my favorite part of the program is? Singing the Bible verses! Can I help you teach the other children these songs?” said 8-year-old Sarah. Athena, a 5-year-old, put her lessons to use at home. “I remember what you taught us! ‘God is our help in trouble!’ I got in trouble with Grandma. I couldn’t find the baby’s bottle. Then I remembered ‘God is my help in trouble.’ I prayed and sang that Bible promise. And He helped me find the bottle.”
“You know what my favorite part of the program is? Singing the Bible verses! Can I help you teach the other children these songs?” said 8-year-old Sarah.
Athena, a 5-year-old, put her lessons to use at home. “I remember what you taught us! ‘God is our help in trouble!’ I got in trouble with Grandma. I couldn’t find the baby’s bottle. Then I remembered ‘God is my help in trouble.’ I prayed and sang that Bible promise. And He helped me find the bottle.”
The most important aspect of the program is personal ministry to the children and their families. Visiting the children in their homes week by week, sending them cards, fulfilling the needs of their families and doing this consistently is where we see the greatest advancement in bringing the Natives to Jesus. Church members get involved by chopping wood for single mothers, making and delivering baby quilts, putting up and taking down Christmas lights, and anywhere they find a need.
One Native mother said, “This is so neat that you do this for the children. It is really providing something our community needs.”
Just three months after the program started, children began attending Sabbath School and church.
“The Growng and Exploring child evangelism program has been the most successful outreach program in the 15-year history of the Inchelium Church,” says Lee Roy Holmes, Inchelium Church pastor. “We are seeing young lives being changed. In addition, the parents are more open to Bible studies than ever before.”
The Inchelium Church has found joy and rich blessings as they “let the children first be filled” (Mark 7:27).