I grew up in a Christian family. My parents serve at the church where I grew up in so I naturally attended Sunday school. I listened to stories, memorized Bible verses and participated in the discussions.
Growing up, everybody expected me to serve in the children’s ministry. I love kids and being God’s storyteller made me happy. As I grew older, I however made decisions that displeased God. I ran away from Him when I was in my late teens. I did not mind if what I was doing was against His Word. I also stopped going to church because of the bad things that were happening to me.
One night, I desperately sought ways to forget all the disappointments in my heart. I saw a book my Sunday school teacher gave me as I was pacing around my room. The book was about love as discussed in 1 Corinthians 13. I knew God was speaking to me at that moment. I memorized many Bible verses as a child but it was only then that I allowed them to touch my heart.
I started attending CCF with my family and I felt a strong desire to serve NxtGen after a few months. I attended the volunteers’ orientation and signed up as a Small Group Preschool Coach. During the first few weeks, I moved from one class to another to observe and learn the Sunday school process. I had the simplest tasks. I gave out crayons and took the children to the restroom. My old self would have grumbled about doing such menial tasks. I used to be the lead teacher in my previous church after all. But I knew God was teaching me to be humble. I realized that even the littlest tasks bring a smile to our Father’s face if it is done for His glory.
As the months passed, God allowed me to handle a group of four-year old boys. Dealing with them required a lot of patience. Sometimes they refused to listen to anything I say. They instead crawled under the tables and chairs. I prayed and dedicated every Sunday to God. I prayed that He use me to speak to the boys. I also prayed for patience and energy in class.
One time, I noticed that a five-year old student was crying and looking very sad. I took his hand and walked into an empty classroom. I asked him what’s wrong. He told me that he missed his older sister who died 2 years ago. I asked God for comforting words to tell him. I told him that every time he feels lonely, he should remember that his friend Jesus is with him. We prayed afterwards.
One boy tested my patience. I tried everything but nothing worked. He refused to sit beside anyone. He shouted at his classmates. He never participated in games and classroom activities. He never obeyed. He never smiled. I felt like giving up until I overheard him say that he was no good while tearing his artwork into pieces. This prompted me to pray regularly for him. Week after week, I asked him how he was feeling even though I never got a response. It went on for months until I noticed a change in his attitude. He was doing his artwork instead of staring blankly into space. He started participating in the discussions. I beamed the first time he smiled at me. He also stopped moving away whenever I sat beside him. God showed me that I am in a good position to point the kids to the One who loves us most even if I only see them once a week.
It is also touching to talk to the children’s parents. God showed me that I can also minister to the children’s parents. A mother once opened up to me about her daughter who passed away. I started praying for my students’ families because I know some of them are going through difficult situations. It is indeed a privilege when parents come to me for prayer.
God taught me a lot through my students and their parents. I look forward to more years of serving Him through the children’s ministry. In spite of my rebellious years, my Sunday school teachers planted God’s Word in my heart. His stories of grace, love, mercy and compassion never left my mind. Even when I hit a dead-end, there is a God who loves and accepts me no matter how many times I mess up. I thank God for the desire that He planted in my heart. Now I know that I can be God’s instrument to the lives of the NxtGen kids. In the end, it’s all about remembering how God had been faithful to me. He is now giving me the opportunity to be a blessing in return to the next generation.
I am Hannah Callado, to God be all the glory.
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