Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.
Reflection: What to teach children about hunger, sharing, generosity and helping those in need:
Sometimes when I hear that 1.4 billion people live in poverty around the world, I wonder… how can I make a difference? I am reminded that God, rarely (but sometimes) calls us to huge, scary, seemingly crazy tasks to help him save the world. (Think Noah building the Ark, Moses parting the Red Sea, or the little boy helping Jesus feed 5000 people with two fish and five loaves of bread.) Instead God daily calls us to be aware of the countless needs around us and find regular, small ways to help address them. Help children establish habits of recognizing needs and addressing them. Some examples include: purchasing an extra item or two at the grocery store to give to a local pantry, offering a drink of water to the mail carrier on a really hot day (or hot chocolate in the winter!), telling a friend about Jesus and inviting them to church.
The first lesson to teach children is: What you do matters – you can make a difference!
Consider this story: On a crisp spring day many years ago, I took my nephew, who was about eight at the time, to a baseball game. As the fourth inning wound down, he turned to me and said, “Hey favorite aunt, can I have some Skittles?” Well, I love my nephew, and I wanted to grant him the desires of his heart, so of course I said “yes.” I pulled a couple of dollars out of my pocket, put them in his eager little hand, and watched as he walked the short distance to the concession stand. A few minutes later he returned, already digging hungrily into a bag of candy. Watching him eat those Skittles brought out my sweet tooth. So, I asked him, “Can I have one of those?” Without hesitating, he answered, “No, favorite aunt, they’re almost gone.” Though I didn’t say it aloud, I have to admit my instinctive response was, “Look, kid, I gave you the money for those Skittles. Not to mention I am a lot bigger than you are. If I wanted to, I could take the whole bag of Skittles away from you right now.” Instead I let him continue eating his Skittles in silence.
Lesson #2 – God provides us our Skittles – how we choose to share them reflects our heart for giving and for God.
Poverty and hunger are breakdowns of relationships. First, the relationship between man and God: when we do not see God as the solution to our problems, we cannot begin to solve them. Secondly, our social relationships: poverty emerges when we abandon our responsibilities to each other. Thirdly, our physical relationships: God gave us the task of being stewards of his physical creation, the Earth. We must honor that task. And, finally, our relationship with ourselves: we must see our own inherent worth and dignity as beings made in the image of God in order to treat others in the same manner.
Lesson #3 – Teach children their worth and the worth of all other human beings.
In praying, we open our hearts to God to receive the compassion that he has for us. We can pray to Jesus for the strength to make both large and small sacrifices, and happily contribute our own resources to people in need who may not have the same privileges we do.
Lesson #4 – Pray for all people of the world. Be generous by giving through prayer.
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl
Prayer: God, I am only one person, but I’m one person who wants to make an impact for your kingdom. Please use me to help feed the hungry, provide drinks for the thirsty, and teach others about Jesus.
-Deacon Jill Goldhammer