Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas


 "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6
                                                                                                                                  

Wow, it is hard to believe that Christmas is less than a week away. Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love the fellowship with friends and family, seeing the lights, seeing Christmas trees, the food and all the joy that the season brings. But is Christmas really about these things? Is it really about the gifts we give and receive, the lights that adorn houses, trees, streets and shopping centers, the cards in the mail and the delicious meals with family and friends? Is this really Christmas? 

While these things are all great, for us as Christians, Christmas is not as much about such things as it is remembering and reflecting on the birth of our precious Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  God showed His unconditional love for us when He sent Christ into the world to be born as a baby in the manger.

His birth brought great joy to the world, not only that night but for every day to come. His earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, were filled with joy, the Shepherds, the Magi’s and angels all shared in the joy and excitement of knowing about the awesome birth of the Saviour. Though He was born in a manager, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lay before an audience of animals, those who saw Him knew He was not an ordinary baby. The prophets in the Old Testament told of His coming hundreds of years before. The star shone brightly over the place of His birth in Bethlehem to guide those who were looking for this wonderful child.

Today, His Cross, the empty tomb and grave clothes stand as a reminder of all He has done for us. He did not stay a baby, He grew up to be a man, lived a perfect and sinless life, died on the cross to pay the ultimate price for our sin so that man, by faith, could be reconciled to God. Without the person and work of Christ we would all be stuck in sin but praise the Lord that we are not.

This is why we celebrate Christmas. It is because of what HE has done. Jesus was born so one day He could pay the ultimate price for the things we have done that are sinful. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned. We are all born with a sin nature, a desire to want to do wrong things. God can never be near sin and hence the reason we need to have sin removed from our lives. The only way is through Jesus Christ. Jesus came so He could die on the cross for ALL of our sins past, present and future. If we believe that Jesus died for our sins, we can ask Him to come into our hearts and forgive us so that we can be made clean and become His child. We can rejoice in the fact that heaven is a place where we can go to when this life is over. What a great reason to rejoice and all because of Christ.

So this week as you go about shopping, preparing the house for family and friends, getting all the presents wrapped and whatever else you may be doing getting ready for  Christmas day, remember that CHRIST is the real reason for the season and this is why we rejoice. Be sure to share this story with your family and friends and all those you meet today, this week and every day.

The Christmas Story
Luke 2:4-19
 
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
  and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A CHRIST FILLED NEW YEAR

Ricardo, Kristin Timothy & Annikah

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Simply Asked

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1).

Abraham left his homeland,his country,the place where he was most comfortable,the place where everything was going well for him, to settle in a foreign country and became a great nation simply because God asked him to go. 

God has simply asked us to go to Hawaii and we have prayed and prayed and prayed and we feel and know that this is where we should be. For whatever reason though,as part of God's plan it is taking a while. However, we know that He is faithful and will get us to Hawaii to begin the ministry there.

We are still in need of 40 more individuals/churches/families to support us with at least $100 USD per month. Please pray that doors will be opened for financial support and soon.

In the Lamb,
Ricardo

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Nice Reminder

"I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain." Isaiah 45:19

God has clearly revealed that He will hear the prayer of those who call upon him, and that declaration cannot be contravened. He has so firmly, so truthfully, so righteously spoken, that there can be no room for doubt. He does not reveal his mind in unintelligible words, but he speaks plainly and positively, "Ask, and ye shall receive." Believe, O trembler, this sure truth that prayer must and shall be heard, and that never, even in the secrets of eternity, has the Lord said unto any living soul, "Seek ye Me in vain."

Charles Spurgeon

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful

          As I did my devotions today I was reminded of Corrie ten Boom. This name came up a number of times when I was at the Children's Ministries Institute®.  

         Corrie remembered a childhood conversation with her father, which took place years before she was imprisoned. In the conversation she asked her father how she would be able to bear it if she were ever to be persecuted for her faith or have to die. Her father responded by asking Corrie to think about the time that she received her train ticket when taking a trip. Was it before the trip? No. The conductor gave Corrie her boarding ticket just as she stepped onto the train.

         We need not worry. Whatever may come in our future, Jesus is already there with our ticket. He will give us what we need, just when we need it.
         As we pray for and trust God to provide for the financial support to begin our ministry in Hawaii, I was reminded that, just as Corrie received that ticket just as she stepped onto the train, so too, we will receive our ‘ticket’ for Hawaii at just the right time that God sees fit.

         I am so thankful that He is our Father and that He knows best, for He holds all things in His hands. As we pray, He continues to work in ways that we cannot even begin to comprehend. I am thankful that He continues to provide for all our needs even when I do not see how. I am thankful for His love and for His mercy. I am thankful for the blessing of an awesome wife who is always by my side to support me and our family. I am thankful for Mom and Keith and the blessing they have been to us. I am thankful for my in-laws and the support they provide. I am thankful for all the wonderful friendships that were gained during our training in Missouri. I am thankful for all our supporters and partners in ministry. I am thankful that in His time, by His grace, He will work all things out for His honour and His glory. An I am thankful for so much more, but most of all, I am thankful for the gift of His Son Jesus Christ, without Him I would never have understood, how wide and long and high and deep His love for me really is (Ephesians 3:18). 

May the Lord bless you guys always and may your Thanks Giving be as special and as blessed as you all are.

In His Love,
Ricardo & Kristin, Timothy and Annikah

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Graduation Video

If you would like to view the CMI Graduation Video please follow the link to YouTube below or search 'CMI Graduation' on YouTube. The video is about an hour long, but you can fastforward if you would like.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2gFei_kGlw

I still have to upload the last part where we collect our diplomas...hopefully I can get it done tomorrow...anyway take care and enjoy :o)

Monday, November 14, 2011

We are Home!

We finally made it home, it's hard to believe 3 months is over already. It was an amazing 3 months and I learned at lot and made some wonderful friends. The Children's Ministries Institute provided solid biblical training that has thoroughly equipped me for the ministry that God has called me and my family to in Hawaii.  It was one of the best trainings I have ever had and I am excited to implement all that I have learned.




We are praying for  41 more individuals or churches to support us with at least $100US per month so that we can complete our assignment and begin the ministry in Hawaii.

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.  Philippians 4:17


Because of your financial support I was able to be part of a team that was able to go into the public school and freely share the gospel for the last five weeks...and because of this 8 children came to know the Lord as their Saviour, three of which I  was able to counsel for salvation. This was just within a five week period! 
Children today, are in desperate need of the Gospel. Your financial support will help the Gospel spread to these children who will  grow to impact future generations for the Lord. This is the fruit of your financial giving.

Please pray for us as we seek financial support to advance our ministry. We know the One who calls us is faithful and  He Will see us through by providing fully for our needs.

We have taken the leap of faith, We are being obedient to the Lord, We are seeking His face, We are trusting Him to provide and We look forward to seeing the great and mighty things He will do. We have been blessed through this process, we have been without a job for the past three months and the Lord has provided for all our needs...what a great God!!

Will you take a step of faith and partner with us financially? 

Do not miss out on what God will do through your faithful giving. He will bless you and He will provide for you just as He has for us. 
Become involved in what God is doing in the ministry of Child Evangelism Fellowship® 
Become involved in what God is doing through the ministry to which He has called us
 But since you excel in everything in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 2 Corinthians  8:7

The Lord bless you and keep you always


Aloha,

Ricardo, Kristin Timothy & Annikah

Friday, October 28, 2011

Last Practicum

It is finally over, all practicums have been completed...Wahoo!! Just two more weeks of training and I will have completed  the Children's Ministry Institute. Please continue to prayer for us as we prepare to head back home and raise the rest of our financial support. We are praying for the Lord to provided 50 people who will give $100 or more per month. 

  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8


Aloha,
Ricardo & Kristin

Monday, October 24, 2011

More Fun

video

Aloha & CMI Fun


Aloha,
Everyone, Hope this email finds you all doing well. It’s  hard to believe that 10 Weeks have already gone by, it seems as though we just got to Missouri  yesterday. Despite a busy schedule we have been really blessed by the staff and students at the Children’s Ministries Institute. We have made some good friends and have been encouraged by their faith. It is a joy to see so many people step out in faith and trust the Lord to provide for the ministry to which the Lord has called them. Like us they too are trusting God to provide for their financial needs as they go back to their respective areas, here in the United States, Europe, Canada and the Caribbean.
I only have 2 more weeks and I will have completed my training on November 11th . Thank you all so very much for your continued financial support, it has allowed us to get through training and prepare for the ministry. We have reached 20%  our support, so still 80% left. We cannot fully focus on developing the ministry in Hawaii until we have acquired 100% of our support, so please pray for us so  that we can complete this assignment as soon as possible. Also, I urge you to consider becoming part of our ministry team in reaching the children for the Lord. We have so many missionaries and ministries today that are reaching out to adults and teens which is great. However, children are being neglected.
Through the ministry of Child Evangelism Fellowship, we have been freely given the opportunity to share the Gospel in public schools. What a great opportunity! In 2001 the Supreme Court  ruled in favor of Child Evangelism Fellowship to have Good News Clubs in Schools. I have had the privilege of actually teaching kids in the public Schools here in Missouri for the past month  and it has been a blessing to share the gospel with the children. There are five who have made decisions for Christ and are growing in their faith.
If you are aware of anyone who would be willing to support us in our ministry we would love a referral so that we can advance our ministry. You are in our prayers and looking forward to seeing you guys soon.

Also  as of November 4th 2011, please send any mail to our address in Virginia. I mentioned in a previous email it was the 18th , that date was changed.
video

The Lord bless you and keep you and cause His face to shine upon you.

In His Service,
Ricardo & Kristin


Friday, October 14, 2011

Update

      Today wrapped up week 8 of training. It also wrapped up the first quad of classes and I have a week of no Seminary classes....wahoo! finally I get a little bit of a break. This coming week should not be as busy but I will be preparing for the following week when I begin my last  two classes to finish Seminary. The Lord has been gracious, and I was never late on any of my assignment.

        Things have been going well, the Lord has been providing for us thanks to your financial support. However, we are still in need of  financial support, $4100 of monthly support is still required for us to meet our budget and begin the work in Hawaii. I know this may seem redundant, but please consider your part in supporting us financially. We cannot begin the ministry in Hawaii unless we have acquired 100% of our support. Hawaii currently only has two workers with CEF that are reaching children with the  gospel and that is only on the Island of Oahu.

        There is a lot of work to be done to evangelize children  disciple them and get them established in a local church. If you are not able to give, will you direct us to anyone who will be willing to support  us in the ministry? Will you commit to praying for us for God to provide above and beyond so that we can begin the ministry? The Lord bless you and thank you for your prayers and financial support.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Hello

Hello everyone, hope all is well. Things have been pretty busy here with the Children's Ministries Institute. The Lord is good and we are half way through as week six cam to an  end. I am currently in the IOT (Instructor of Teachers) course, which means that I am being trained to be able to train teachers for ministry. I have a practicum on Monday and then I have a 40 min practicum on Friday so please pray for me that the Lord would give me wisdom and peace.


Kristin and the kids are doing well. Timothy is having a birthday on Tuesday, our little guy will be 3! He is doing well. He has a little friend here named Emily who he enjoys playing with, Annikah is doing well, she just keeps Kristin busy. Kristin is doing well and has been a very helpful and supportive wife and I am so blessed by her.

Please continue to keeps us in your prayer, for good health, finances as we continue to raise our support and wisdom and discernment as we seek the Lord.

Well take care and below I attached a 20 page paper that I had to write for CMI. It is a theology of child conversion paper, which supports and expalins why children need to hear the Word of God.

Blessings.

THEOLOGY OF CHILD CONVERSION




CHILDREN’S MINISTRIES INSTITUTE




TABLE OF CONTENTS



                                                                   THESIS
This paper will seek to defend child evangelism. It will attempt to do so by discussing key passages of Scripture, both from the Old and New Testament. It will also briefly look at four philosophies of childhood conversion, other supporting evidence and discuss the Christians responsibility in child evangelism.
INTRODUCTION
What is child evangelism? And why is it important? Child evangelism is the act of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the purpose of leading lost children into a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus, our ultimate and perfect example, clearly stated in Mark 16:15 that Christians are to spread the gospel to all creatures and this includes children. The Bible tells that children are near and dear to His heart (Mark 10:14). When Jesus gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, it was intended for children as well. Child evangelism is necessary and important. Billy Graham said, “I am certain that the gospel is just as real to the small child as to an educated adult…I sincerely believe that child evangelism is one of the greatest mediums for reaching future generations for Christ that there is today.”1 The Bible also clearly states that it is important for four reasons. Firstly, children are exceedingly valuable and a heritage from the Lord (Genesis 1:27-28, Psalm 127:3-5, Mark 10:13-16). Secondly, children are sinners who are in desperate need of God’s salvation (Psalm 51:5, 2 Timothy 3:2). Thirdly, children can understand the good news of salvation (Proverbs 20:11, 2 Timothy 3:15). And finally, children are included in the body of believers (Ephesians 6:1).
It is imperative that the gospel is shared with children because today’s world continues to exert a pernicious effect on these impressionable young minds. George Barna says, the
________________
1Graham, Billy. “Theology of Child Conversion.” Warrenton, MO: Child Evangelism   Fellowship.
probability of someone embracing Jesus as his or her Saviour was 32 percent for those between the ages of 5 and 12; 4 percent for those in the 13-18 range; and 6 percent for people 19 or older. In other words, if people do not embrace Jesus Christ as their Savior before they reach their teenage years, the chance of their doing so at all is slim.”2 Therefore, it can be seen that the chances for salvation decreases as one gets older. Barna also notes, “We can strive to give our youngsters all the advantages the world has to offer, and motivate them to make the most of available opportunities and resources; but unless their spiritual life is prioritized and nurtured, they will miss out on much of the meaning, purpose and joy in life.”3
OLD TESTAMENT SUPPORT
The Old Testament stressed the importance of children. Children were considered a blessing from the Lord and were a vital part of Hebrew life. They were incorporated in many of the religious celebrations. Even though they were not of age to be considered members of the community, they could still participate in religious activities. Roy Honeycutt writes,
“Within the legal sections of the Old Testament, there is a total absence of provisions about admitting children to full religious status. This is important, for the religious system carefully spelled out details about many other matters. The absence of rules
in this area implies that, except for circumcision, children were accepted without
going through any ritual or meeting any other requirements.”4
There are five key passages in the Old Testament that will be used to support the basis of child evangelism. The first passage is Deuteronomy 4:1-10. In this passage, God commands the obedience of the Israelites. This passage falls into the category of one of the first three
discourses. It summarizes all the great things that the Lord had done for the Israelite. It is here
________________
2Barna, George. Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions. (Ventura: Regal Books, 2003): 29.
3Ibid, 34.
4Honeycutt, Roy. Children and Conversion. (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1970): 20.

that God explains the purpose for holy living and it is in this passage that He commands the Israelites to be faithful and pass His teachings and their legacy of faith onto their children and their grandchildren. Children were seen as the future, they were the ones responsible for preserving all the great and mighty things God had done for his people. If they failed to tell of the Lord’s goodness, then future generations would not worship the Lord as God. Thus, this passage communicates the importance of conveying biblical truths to children.
The second passage from the Old Testament is also found in Deuteronomy. In Deuteronomy 6:1-9, the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land. They were commanded to love the Lord with all their heart and seek to develop an intimate relationship with Him. They were to fear the Lord and be obedient to Him so that they would be blessed, their children would be blessed and so would their children’s children. They were reminded that there was only one true God who loved and cared for them and they were to meditate on His Word as often as they could. This monotheistic doctrine was an encouragement as they were entering a land that was filled with polytheism.
What was even more central, with respect to child evangelism, was that these instructions had significant pedagogical implications for the Israelite children. In verse 4-5, the first verse, verse 4, is referred to as the Shema, from the Hebrew meaning to hear. What God had to say was important so it was imperative for the Israelite’s to take note. The Israelite parents were to impress the teachings of the Lord upon the lives of their children. Everything they were commanded was to be ingrained in the heart and life of their children. The Hebrew word for heart is lebab, which refers to the mind, knowledge, thinking, reflection and memory.5 Thus,
______________
5Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. “Hebrew Lexicon entry for Lebab.” “The NAS Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon.”
when Moses stated that Israelite parents should ingrain the commandments of the Lord on their children’s lebab, Moses was telling them to ensure that their children knew the truth about God and commit it to memory. The moral and scriptural education of the Israelite children was best imparted not in a formal setting but during day to day activities. Parents were commanded to ‘tie’ and ‘bind,’ in Hebrew Qashar, meaning to bind to oneself or on, and to tie, God’s Word on their children and ‘write’ God’s Word on their door frames. Hence, the reason the commands to tie them and write them were taken literally by some later Jews who created little pouches and took it with them wherever they went. However, the commands were emphasizing symbolically the need for the continual teaching of the Law (Ex. 13:9, 16).6 This was an indication that it was of utmost importance that children understood the love of God so that they too would serve Him just as their parents did.            
The third passage is taken from Deuteronomy 11:18-21. In this passage, Moses continued to address the people and instruct them as their forty years in the wilderness came to an end. Moses had previously reminded the Israelites of God’s miraculous deliverance from slavery. They had seen God at work, He provided for them, took care of them and they saw His discipline when they did not obey. Moses reminded the Israelites that their children had not experienced all the mighty things the Lord had done so it was their responsibility to pass on all the Lord had done to their children. They were to constantly remind them of God’s greatness every day. They were to lamad, that is, in Hebrew, teach and train7 their children to follow the Lord so that they would grow to love Him and experience for themselves the mighty things He would do for
_________________
6Walvoord, John F. and Roy B. Zuck. Dallas and Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, (Wheaton: Victor Book, 1985): 274-275.
7Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. “Hebrew Lexicon entry for Lamad.” “The NAS Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon.”

them. Thus, this passage tells about the necessity of conveying spiritual truths to children so that
they would know and experience the love and blessings of the Lord. The Hebrew word for know, yada, carries the implication of being involved in that which is know.8 Children knew the Lord from being involved in everyday life with their parents. Hence, the reason the passage stresses the importance of passing the teachings of the Lord from generation to generation.
The fourth passage of Scripture is taken from Deuteronomy 31:9-13. In this passage, Moses had written the Law to give to the Priest to be read when the people of Israel appeared before the Lord. The Law was required to be read to all the people of Israel so that they could hear it. The Israelites, on hearing the Law, were obligated to keep it and fulfill its requirements.
The passage mentioned that all Israel was required to be there when the Law was read and all

were to fulfill its requirements. The passage also clearly stressed those children, the Hebrew

 taph, referring to children of all ages: children, little children and little ones9 were to be present

when the law was read and that they were not to be excluded (Deuteronomy 31:12). They were also responsible for fulfilling the requirements of the Law. Thus, the passage indicates the importance of exposing children to the Word of God early in life so that can hear it and learn from it. They will learn to fear the Lord, obey His commands, apply His Word to their lives and tell future generations.
The final Old Testament passage that speaks of the importance of child evangelism is taken from Psalm 78:1-8. This psalm is one of instruction which covered Israel’s history from the time of the Exodus from Egypt until the time of David. The author, Asaph, conveyed
_________________
8Stonehouse, Cathereine. Joining Children on the Spiritual Journey: Nurturing a Life of Faith.
(Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008): 29.
9Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. “Hebrew Lexicon entry for Lamad.” “The NAS Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon.”

important instructions to God’s people concerning the preservation of His Word. He
commanded the Israelites to azan, in Hebrew, meaning listen carefully to and be obedient to10 his instructions because they were God’s instructions. The word ‘incline’ further suggests the importance of the message he was giving. The Hebrew word for ‘incline’ is natah, which means to stretch or spread out, 11 similar to a dog or a horse that raises its ear to hear. Thus, the Israelites were to listen intently. Why? Because they were to instruct their children and their children after them. This was the mission of the psalmist to ensure that God’s truth and His goodness were communicated from generation to generation. The Israelites were to not only teach their children about the Lord but they were to ensure that they passed God’s truth from one generation to the next.
The passage teaches that God’s Word must be passed from generation to generation. It suggests the importance of praying for children to hear the Word of God. It suggests the importance for children to understand God’s goodness towards them. It teaches the importance of being a godly example to children so that they will grow to be godly men and women and in turn, be examples to others. It also teaches of the consequences of being disobedient to the instructions of the Lord, and that is, children will grow up to be faithless. Thus, it can be seen from this passage and the others mentioned above, that child evangelism is a vital part of Christian ministry. Children are the future; they are the church of tomorrow. However, failure to evangelize lost children will result in a faithless generation, hence, child evangelism is greatly needed and this concept can be clearly seen in the above passages of the Old Testament.

_________________
9Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. “Hebrew Lexicon entry for azan.” “The NAS Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon.”
10Ibid, “Hebrew Lexicon entry for azan.”

NEW TESTAMENT SUPPORT
The Gospels
The Old Testament greatly stresses the need to convey God’s truth to children and future generations and laid the foundation for child evangelism. So to, the New Testament builds on this foundation in the support and defense of child evangelism. There are two key passages in the gospels that support the biblical basis for child evangelism. The first of these is Matthew 18:1-14. In this passage, the disciples were found arguing among themselves who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. They came to Jesus with their question and it is based on this that Jesus gives a response to their question and in so doing, gives the basis for child evangelism.
When Jesus was asked the question by His disciples, who was the greatest, He deliberately used a model and this model was a child. Matthew’s gospel stated that He called and placed a child in front of them (Matthew 18:2). Mark’s gospel gives a clearer picture of Jesus’ love in that Mark states that He actually took the child in His arms (Mark 9:36). The word ‘child’ as used in verse 2, in the Greek is paidion, which usually denotes a child around age seven; however, in the context used, it does not refer to a specific age group but includes any child within any age group. Jesus used the Greek, paidion, in Matthew18:1-14 seven times and in each instance, refers to children of any age group. This Greek, paidion, is the diminutive of the Greek pais and which is only used once by Matthew to describe the very young or infants (Matthew 2:16).11
           Once the model was made visible to the disciples, Jesus said to them “…unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew
______________
11Thayer and Smith. “Greek Lexicon entry for paidion”. “
The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon.” 1999.
18:3). It is important to mention that the word ‘change’ used in this verse is rather significant. The Greek translation of the word ‘change’ is strepho, which describes a supernatural change; it is a change that man cannot make on his own. Thyer and Smith define strepho as “to turn one’s self from one’s course of conduct, that is, to change one’s mind.”12 However, it is far more than just a mental change; it is an inward spiritual change as one is convicted of his actions by the power of the Holy Spirit that leads to an outward expression of love and humility.         
   When Jesus began to address the question asked by His disciples, He clearly explained the necessity of becoming like a child to enter the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:2-3). The disciples were thinking of greatness in a worldly sense and they were confused about the true nature of heaven. Jesus corrected their misperceptions by stating the criteria for greatness in the kingdom. He not only conveyed His purpose for coming into the world but He also conveyed the importance of child evangelism. In verses 4-5, Jesus not only gave the answer to the question, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” but He also clearly explained what was meant in saying that they were to change and become like a child or they would not enter the kingdom. Jesus was not saying that they had to become literal children but rather it was a simile that Jesus used to convey to the disciples that they were to display specific qualities, like that of a child. He was saying that they had to display a changed life and a humble and loving attitude.
Humility was a key aspect to becoming like a child. In Jewish culture, a child was considered to be of very low standing; they had no voice in social and spiritual matters until they were of age. The word ‘humble’, as used in Matthew 18:4, is translated tapeion in the Greek which means “figuratively to humiliate (in condition or heart), abase or bring low.”13
________________
12
Thayer and Smith. “Greek Lexicon entry for strepho”. “
The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon.” 1999.
13Ibid, “Greek Lexicon entry for tapeion.”
Therefore, the disciples were to develop childlike humility, have a teachable spirit and show genuine care and concern for others. Only then would they enter the kingdom of Heaven. Childlike faith is one of humility and obedience and if the disciples could not demonstrate such a faith, they would be in danger of not entering heaven. The words of Jesus, “you will never enter the kingdom,” in the original Greek, is the strongest form of repudiation.
            In verses 5, Jesus continues to use the child as model and makes mention to His disciples that they were to not only become like a child, but they were to welcome children because by doing so, they were being obedient to Him. It also must be clarified that Jesus was not saying that the disciples had to specifically welcome the child (paidion) He was holding in His arms. He was saying that all children were to be received in the same manner as an adult. He was instructing His disciples to go against the tradition of the day. They were to receive all children with a positive attitude, they were to love them and care for them and not view them as inferior or subordinate. Most of all, they were to continually teach children the truth of Scripture so that they too would remain humble and fear the Lord.
            When Jesus answered the disciple’s question, He included a very stern warning of the danger that one can incur for causing a child to stumble. His statement in verse 3, “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble…” carries serious consequences. To clarify this statement, it is noteworthy to point out three key words, ‘little ones,’ ‘believe’ and ‘stumble’. Firstly, the word ‘little one’ is translated mikros in the Greek and refers to a very small child.14 Secondly, the word ‘believe,’ translated pisteuo, is the same as that found in John 3:16 and Acts 16:31 meaning to believe and have faith in.15 Thirdly, in verses 6-9, the
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14Thayer and Smith. “Greek Lexicon entry for mikros”. “
The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon.” 1999.
15Ibid, “Greek Lexicon entry for pisteuo.”
terminology for the term ‘stumble’ employed by Christ occurs in all four verses.
The word ‘stumble’ is translated as the Greek skandalon and occurs three times in verses 7 alone.  The Greek skandalon means “any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall, any person or thing by which one is (entrapped) drawn into error or sin.”16 The verb skandalizo also appears in verses 6, 8 and 9, which refers to the act of causing one to stumble or fall into sin.
             So, Jesus was saying to His disciples, if anyone of you causes these small children to not have faith or trust in me by allowing them to fall into sin then, “…it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). This was not a small millstone that was found in the household; rather, it was a very large millstone that had to be pulled by a donkey. The word ‘millstone’, translated mulos onikos, was a very large stone that was extremely heavy. Hence, Jesus was warning of the severity of the punishment for hindering a child from the truth of the Word.
            Why such a stern warning? The answer is clearly seen in verses 10-14. Children are greatly loved by the Lord. They are to be treated with love and respect and cared for unconditionally. They have special angels in heaven who take watch over them (Matthew 18:10). “The expression intimates, as some think, the special dignity and honor of the little ones’ angels; the prime ministers of state are said to see the king’s face as if the strongest angels had the charge of the weakest saints.”17 In verse 11-13, Jesus gives a parable to show His love for children. He describes children as a lost sheep who desperately need to be sought out by the
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16Thayer and Smith. “Greek Lexicon entry for skandalon”. “
The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon.” 1999.
17Matthew Henry’s Commentary. (Accessed September 8th 2011).
http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/matthew/18.html.

shepherd, so they can be protected, nurtured and loved. Just as the shepherd rejoices in finding his lost sheep, so to, God rejoices when one child proclaims faith in Him.
            In verse 14, Jesus also gives the third and final reason why seeking children is of utmost importance. He said, “your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” This is the capstone of child evangelism that God, who created each child by name, is not willing to see any of them perish. He desires to have an intimate relationship with each child in same way He desires to have with adults. This is the reason Christ came to earth, lived a sinless life and died willingly, so that every creature, by faith, including children, would have an opportunity for salvation. The word ‘perish’ is the same Greek word used in John 3:16 to convey ultimate separation from God. If children do not hear the good news of salvation, and do not receive Christ as Lord, they will perish. Therefore, it is crucial that child evangelism take place so that these lost souls can be saved and enjoy in eternity with the Lord, which is clearly implied in this passage.
            The second passage of Scripture that gives the biblical basis for child evangelism is Mark 10:13-16. In this passage, people were bringing children to Jesus so that he could touch them. There is no indication that these children were sick or in need of healing or anything of that nature. So, why were the people bringing these kids to the Lord? This goes back to the Old Testament because while children were considered of low estate, God had instructed parents to bless their children. The people mentioned in Mark were bringing these children simply so that Jesus could bless them for the future. However, before the children could be blessed, they had to get through the disciples. Instead of the disciples allowing the children entrance to the Lord, they rebuked them. There is no clear reason why but it was probably because Jesus did not have the time or that there were more important things for Jesus to do. Charles Spurgeon also said, “This may have been a zeal for God but it was not according to knowledge.”18 While their intentions may have been good, they were completely wrong in their actions, they completely missed the concept of welcoming children as Jesus taught in Matthew 18. Most of all, they missed the heart of Christ because “His heart was a great harbor wherein many little ships cast anchor.”19
In response to the disciples’ actions, Jesus became indignant. The Greek word used aganakteo implies that Jesus had a great anger, that He was very displeased and experienced a deep sense of grief. According to Dr. Sam Doherty, “…this was the strongest word used about the Lord Jesus and His emotions during His earthly ministry.”20 It was an indication of how deeply the Lord Jesus cared for children and how closely He identified with God the Father, in that, none should perish. As a result of the disciples rebuke, Jesus in turn rebuked His disciples for rebuking the children and gave them a twofold command. The first was, ‘let the little children come to me’ and the second was ‘do not hinder them.’ Jesus was adamant that the children should come, He knew their childlike heart, and it was the perfect opportunity for Him to explain to His disciples their need to have a childlike heart.
             As the disciples obeyed Jesus’ commands and allowed the children to come, Jesus took a child, placed him in His arms, and explained something very unique. He said to them, “the kingdom of God belonged to such as these” (Mark 10:14). The disciples were to become like the very children that they were rebuking from seeing Jesus. The model of the child made it clear that children can inherit God’s kingdom and that their humility and lowliness should be imitated. This was the requirement to enter heaven: simplistic faith, as that of a child, and complete trust
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18Doherty, Sam. Children: A Biblical Perspective. (Northern Ireland: Child Evangelism Fellowship, 2011); 81.
19Ibid, 82.
20Ibid 83.

and dependence. After this unique lesson, Jesus “took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them” (Mark 10:16). This verse speaks volumes of the love of Christ for children. The idea conveyed in this verse does not occur anywhere else in the New Testament. When Mark said, ‘He blessed them,” the Greek word he used was kateulovgei, transliterated eulogeo meaning, “to praise, to invoke blessings, to consecrate a thing with solemn prayers, to ask God's blessing on a thing, pronounce a consecratory blessing on.”21 Thus, it was an act of blessing continuously, an act that the Lord longs to continue with the lost children of the world.
            Therefore, Mark 10:13-16 clearly shows that children can indeed receive the kingdom of God. Mark is not saying that this is automatically attained, but rather, he is saying that they posses simplistic faith and can display complete trust and dependence on Jesus Christ. It teaches that Christians should never prevent children from the Lord, as the disciples were doing, but they should always allow them to come freely. Children are extremely precious in the eyes of the Lord. He loves and cares for them deeply and He desires have a personal relationship with each. The passage also teaches the importance for Christians to actively minister to children by bringing them to Him, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through prayer and exposure to His Word. Only then will they receive it and the blessing of eternal life, as Jesus longs to give.
The Epistles
            Not only do the gospels speak on the necessity of loving and sharing the truth of the Word with children but the epistles support this as well. The first passage is taken from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 1:1 that he is addressing all the Saints or holy people in Ephesus. The word ‘saints’ or as the word ‘holy people’ suggest, Paul was writing
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21Thayer and Smith. “Greek Lexicon entry for kateulovgei.” “The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon.”  1999.
his letter to Christians because this was the term used to describe those who had genuinely professed faith in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:2). After the first section of his letter, Paul addressed each group of believers individually: wives, husbands, fathers, servants and masters. What is interesting and noteworthy is that, in Ephesians 6:1, Paul began by addressing children. The word he used was teknon, “which is a more general word for children; but in context of verse 4. This clearly indicates that Paul is speaking about young children, children in the church and children in the family.”22 Thus, from Paul’s initial address in Ephesians 1:1 to the Saints, or all believers, and his address in this particular verse, it is commonsensical that these children have professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that is, they are Christians. Paul then goes on to instruct these children to be obedient to their parents so that they would be blessed. Paul also gave a final instruction to fathers to continually train and instruct their children to honor the Lord.
              These verses provide a biblical basis to show that children can come to faith in Christ. Paul, one of the most educated and learned followers of Christ in His day, clearly recognized and accepted these children as genuine believers in Christ, and there is no basis to say otherwise. It is an unmistakable fact that these children were hearing and receiving the Word of God.
If they did not hear and believe the Word, then they would not have been included in the Saints. “Anyone who wishes to have significant influence on the development of a person’s moral and spiritual foundations had better exert that influence while the person is still open-minded and impressionable, in other words, while the person is still young.”23 Hence, if children are to develop a relationship with Christ, according to this passage, Christians are to effectively expose them to the truths of the Word. There is also a great responsibility that is given to parents as well,
and that is, to ensure that they train and instruct their children in the ways of the Lord.
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22Doherty, 148.
23Barna, 47.
The second source of support in the Epistles is from Paul’s letter to the Colossians.
Just as Paul addressed the Christians in Ephesus, so to he addressed those in Colossae by referring to them as Saints or God’s holy people; however, He adds the phrase faithful brothers and sisters (Colossians 1:2). The Greek translation of the word faithful is pistos meaning,
“one who is convinced that Jesus has been raised from the dead or one who has become convinced that Jesus is the Messiah and author of salvation.”24 Moving to Colossians 3:20-21, Paul, just as he addressed the children in Ephesus, so to in these verses he addressed the children using the same Greek term teknon. Paul again instructs the children to obey their parents because it pleases the Lord and he again admonished fathers to encourage their children in the faith. This passage serves as a reminder that children can profess faith in Christ. The term pistos attests to this as it clearly refers to who has become convinced that Jesus is the Messiah and author of salvation and this included children. The passage again emphasizes the need for fathers, parents and Christians to continually encourage children to have faith in Christ because He is the only one who brings them to saving faith.
The final passage that provides support for child evangelism is taken form Titus 1:6-9. Paul, in this passage, speaks of the qualifications of elders. As Paul moved down the list of qualifications, he mentioned that an elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife and then he came to the elders children or teknon of which he states that they must believe and are not disobedient or given to a worldly life. If an elder’s children were unbelieving and were given to worldly living, then the leadership capability of the elder would come into questions. Hence, the reason Paul listed such a qualification. However, what is the crux of the matter and serves as
support for the conversion of a child is Paul’s uses of the word believe. Again, this is the same
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24Thayer and Smith. “Greek Lexicon entry for Strepho”.
Greek word pistos that Paul used in Ephesians and Colossians to denote one who has become convinced that Jesus is the Messiah and author of salvation. Once again, this provides solid support that children can profess faith in Christ.
PHILOSOPHIES OF CHILDHOOD CONVERSION
Traditional Philosophy

           The traditional philosophy states that,

         “The Christian life of the child is formed by his environment. Conversion is a phenomenon   
           of adolescence and until he has the use of reason (around twelve years of age), the child is  
           not lost, since he is safe under the covenant by belonging to a Christian family.”
It is my presupposition and from a biblical perspective this philosophy is flawed. This philosophy places the emphasis for salvation on the family and the Christian home and not on the basis of faith in Christ. Clearly, the Bible nowhere mentions that the salvation of a child is based on the salvation of his family. Romans 3:23 points out the fact that all have sinned, including children. “Each child is born into sinful humanity. All individuals eventually confirm themselves as sinners. It is God’s purpose to save all.”25 Salvation is the result of a conscious effort to receive by faith, Christ as Lord and repent of sin; it is not a result of a covenant. Romans 10:9-10 states, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” This is the only way to be saved. Also, to say that a child cannot profess faith in Christ until he has the use of reason, around age twelve, according to this philosophy, is also a faulty assumption. There have been many well know Christians that have been saved prior to this age, such as James Dobson, who was saved at age three and Anne Lotz, daughter of Billy and Ruth Graham, was also saved at age three. This alone is basis for refuting the traditional philosophy.
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25Hendricks, William. “The Age of Accountability: Children and Conversion. (Nashville :Broadman Press, 1970).
Educational Philosophy
The educational philosophy states that,

           “The child should receive biblical knowledge from a very young age and develop    
             Christian habits and attitudes. One day he will make a personal decision for Christ, and
             be saved.”

I can agree with the first part of this philosophy, which deals with the child being taught biblical truths; however, the emphasis for salvation is placed solely on Christian education, which is not the biblical basis for salvation; it is only the means by which the truth is understood so that the Holy Spirit can act. I have to disagree with the second part because it has no basis for biblical support. It is necessary to teach a child early on in life the Word of God because there is a great probability that the child will profess faith in the Lord Jesus. “People are much more likely to accept Christ as their Savior when they are young. Absorption of biblical information and principles typically peaks during the preteen years. . . . Habits related to the practice of one’s faith develop when one is young and change surprisingly little over time.”26 However, this is not a guarantee that the child will be saved. Salvation is not based on what is learned or done throughout life, rather, the Bible makes it clear that a person is saved by the grace of God through faith and nothing else (Ephesians 2:8-10). A child without Christ is spiritually blind to the truth of the Word (1 Corinthian 2:14) and will come to faith in Christ on his own, by the grace of God, through the Spirit of God, not through good educational programming (Romans 10:14).
Psychological Philosophy

            
The psychological philosophy states that,

             “The child is incapable of understanding symbolism and abstract concepts and is unable 
               to reason; therefore, he cannot make a decision for Christ.”
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26Barna, 41.
  This philosophy is also flawed and there is no ground for agreement. The working of the Holy Spirit is completely ignored (Hebrews 11:3; John 16:13). As was mentioned above, children can come to faith in Christ (Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20), they are neither too young, nor are they incapable of understanding symbolism and abstract concepts. This is exactly what Jesus spoke to His disciples about in Matthew 18 and Mark 10. One can never say that a child cannot make a decision for Christ. Charles Finney said,
             “Reason is developed in one earlier than in another, according to the constitution 
              and circumstances... A thorough consideration of the subject will doubtless lead to the
              conviction, that children become moral agents or, knowing right from wrong much
              earlier than is generally supposed... The child knows that happiness is good, and seeks it
              in the form of self-gratification, long before the terms that designate this state of mind                
              or, the reasonableness of it are at all understood.”27

The fact that a child can recognize his sin, repent and trust in the Lord attest to his ability to understand God’s truth (John 1:12). It is only God who can know for certain the heart of a child.
Child Evangelism Philosophy

          The child evangelism philosophy states,

         “The Gospel should be presented to the child at an early age so that as the Holy Spirit    
           works, he will come to know Jesus as his personal Savior. As a result, the child can begin
           to develop Christian character, which is the outward expression of a new inward life.”
It is my presupposition that this philosophy is not only logical but also grounded in Scripture
and therefore, I have to agree. It has previously been established that it is of utmost importance that children be exposed to the gospel at an early age. Statistical data attest to this fact and more importantly, the Bible and our Lord Jesus Christ commands it. Proverbs 22:6 notes that if we train a child in the way he should go, when he gets older, he will not depart from it. Hence, the reason the Israelites were instructed to teach their children daily about the Lord. Training a child
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27Finney, Charles G. “Systematic Theology.” (Accessed September 6th 2011) http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/voice/Systematic.Theology.5html#LECTURE 41.
early allows the child to be exposed to the truth of the Word and it allows the Holy Spirit to begin working to convict the child of sin and lead him to a personal relationship with his Savior, Jesus Christ. Warren Wiersbe puts it this way, “When the child of God looks into the Word of God and sees the Son of God, he is changed by the Spirit of God for the glory of God.” Further, our Lord and Savior stated that children are not to be hindered from coming to him (Mark 10:14). Therefore, the child evangelism philosophy is strongly supported by Scripture and hence, the reason I agree with it.
OTHER SUPPORTING EVIDENCE
Personal Testimony
            I have not always been a Christian. I grew up in a single parent home. My dad’s family believed in one religion and my mother’s side of the family believed in another and although my dad was not there, growing up, his family’s religion still had some influence on me. My mom’s family never attended church; however, my mom took me to church, on average, two times a year. I always felt an emptiness in me from an early age; I tried being like other people to fill this emptiness but everything I tried made me feel emptier. I felt helpless and hopeless. I chose the wrong group of friends and lived a life that glorified the world. I realized I needed Jesus and received Him into my life when, as a child, I attended a Christian camp. At the camp, my counselor shared Jesus with me and spoke about heaven and hell. The Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin and I was able to receive Christ as my Lord in my childhood years. My emptiness was filled and I now know my purpose in life, to serve my Lord and my God, Jesus Christ and bring Him glory.
Requirements for Salvation
             Salvation is an act of faith by the grace of God. Some Christians have the idea that faith and reason are in conflict, however, they work together to help the lost know the Lord. The Bible tells us that we are to have both faith and reason (Hebrews 11:6, 1 Peter 3:15). However, the Bible is clear that salvation is free gift as a result of faith, not a result of reason (Ephesians 2:8-10). However, reason allows one to determine the truth of Scripture, which in turn determines faith. Thus, a child has the ability to reason within himself, as the Holy Spirit convicts of sin. From reason, the child can understand his sinfulness and by faith, accept Jesus Christ as Lord. For a child to be saved, he must have faith in the Lord Jesus.
THE CHRISTIANS RESPONSIBILTY
As Christians, we have been commanded by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ to go into all the world and preach the gospel. This was Christ’s last command and it is our greatest responsibility to share the good news of salvation with all and this includes children. Jesus had a very special love for children, and because we love Him, we are to be obedient to His commands. Christians are to seek kids wherever they may be found, just as the shepherd sought after his one lost sheep, and share the good news of salvation. Christians are to care, nurture and love children, so that they can experience the love of Christ. Christians are to constantly pray for the lost children and seek to remove the things that would cause a child to stumble.
                                                           CONCLUSION
              In conclusion, it can be seen that both the Old and New Testament support that children can be saved. They are not saved by family tradition or intellectual knowledge but through faith in Christ and Christ alone. Children are in need of God’s love and forgiveness just as much as adults. They should be loved and nurtured in the faith, because contrary to contemporary belief, they are not too young. However, they cannot believe until they have heard, so lets us be obedient to the Lord and be the feet that brings God’s good news of salvation to these lost souls.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Barna, George. Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions. (Ventura: Regal Books, 2003).
Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. “The NAS Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon.”

Finney, Charles G. “Systematic Theology.” Available from:
         http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/voice/Systematic.Theology.5html#LECTURE 41;
         Internet(Accessed September 6th 2011).  

Graham, Billy. “Theology of Child Conversion.” Warrenton, MO: Child Evangelism Fellowship.

Hendricks, William. “The Age of Accountability: Children and Conversion.
         (Nashville:Broadman Press, 1970).
Honeycutt, Roy. Children and Conversion. (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1970).
Matthew Henry’s Commentary. Available from:
         http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/matthew/18.html;
         Internet (Accessed September 8th 2011).

Stonehouse, Cathereine. Joining Children on the Spiritual Journey: Nurturing a Life of Faith.
         (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008).

Thayer and Smith.  “The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon.”  1999.

Walvoord, John F. and Roy B. Zuck. and Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge
         Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures,
(Wheaton: Victor Book, 1985).