AS A CHILD
"Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 19:14
At a pastorate in an East Los Angeles County town, I noticed a number of small children whose faces I failed to recognize. When I inquired about them, one of the teachers told me, "Their parents drop them off every Sunday and pick them up later. The children come because they want to. It is about the only place they are loved."
That broke my heart. So many additions to our attendance were simply new disasters asking for emergency action. I wearied from time to time at what seemed overwhelming. Nothing in our society was building families – not schools, not TV, not government programs. Only church and the teaching of the Word held any effectiveness. But these children! How heartbreaking that their parents (or whoever) would drop them off so someone could love them.
I purposed to do whatever I could and decided that these small children might not remember all that we teach them, but they certainly would remember in the years to come that they were loved by people of God in the Name of the Lord.
My personal tactic was simple. Everyone entered the building through a rear patio gate from the parking lot. I stationed myself at that gate and hugged every child that came through. At first, some acted coolly indifferent. As weeks passed, they noticed that I remembered them and knew their names. Then they began to run to me.
Often, as the time came for me to begin another mission journey that would take me away from the church for a week or more, I would ask the children to gather around me and lay hands on me and pray. I knew the power of a childís prayer. They might not understand all that I was doing; they only knew how to believe. That belief was priceless to me.
At times, when I participated in the childrenís services, I noticed that their worship was enthusiastic and real. When they prayed, the requests for prayer reflected true need and honest fears. I would smile inside at the thought of what their parents might think about the way the children expressed family needsÖand there were many.
Healings have occurred in our family at the prayer of our children. Remarkable travel miracles would fill a book at the prayer of our children. I learned at the feet of children.
But back to the children at the church. One Sunday morning, a breakdown in building equipment took me into the convoluted labyrinth of the education department. I find it difficult to thank God for equipment breakdowns, so that discomfiting moment triggered an under-breath grumbling about bailing-wire methods and my absence from the gate.
My focus on the problem with the surrounding sounds of "church voices" delayed my hearing or noticing one of the greatest moments of my life. When I finished and turned around, there, in a line, were some of the children who knew something was wrong that I was not at the gate. They searched the building until they found me and waited patiently to receive their recognition and hug. Now, why am I still crying as I write this?
Mad Preacher Disease
My preaching/teaching style changed in South Louisiana when a new family attended the church I served. A mutual friend told me that on the way home, the four-year-old daughter asked her mother, "Why was that man mad at me?" and she was referring to me. The mother said, "He wasnít mad at you, honey."
"Yes he was, Momma. Why?"
"He wasnít mad at you. Why do you say that?"
"Well, if he wasnít mad at me, why did he yell at me like that?"
My heart broke when I heard that and I determined that a child would never leave my presence again thinking I was mad at them in the Name of Jesus.
Many years later in a church I served in Illinois, the ladies of the church had a Thursday morning Bible study. They would put their preschool age children in the nursery and then have their meeting to which I was not invited, though my name is "Gayle." I loved those children, so I would spend 30 minutes or so on those Thursdays playing with them.
I shall never forget my first visit. I opened the top half of the nursery door, leaned over with proper pastoral pose and said, "Hi kids. Letís play." They ignored me, so I walked in and stood over them with proper pastoral pose and said again, "Hi kids. Letís play." Again, they acted as if they had not heard me, except for two who ran into the other room, frightened.
By now, my ego was involved, since the nursery attendant had begun to giggle at my attempt. I wanted to pick one up by the shoulders and say, "You are going to play with me and you are going to enjoy it!" At that point, the Holy Spirit helped me remember what life was like for me at that age. Adults were giants. My world was kneecaps.
Immediately, I knew what to do. Without saying another word, I dropped to the floor and lay down. Within seconds, everyone was on top of me, screaming and yelling and jumping. My hair went one direction and my dignity went another. Neither have returned.
But at that moment I learned something more about the Incarnation, that word that speaks of God becoming man and dwelling among us. Jesus got down on our floor so we could look him in the face and not be afraid. Once again, I sat at the feet of children.
"Öa little child shall lead them." Isaiah 11:6
— Gayle D. Erwin
Persecution of Christians continues throughout the world (as Jesus said it would). The newest hot spot with which I am most familiar is India. Pray for the stability of the Church and effective outreach during this time. Current government attitudes have unleashed thugs to burn, kill and rape. Gospel for Asia has come under specific threats because of its effectiveness. Please pray for the saints in India.
David Jeremiah mixes outstanding ballad lyrics, gentle heart-touching songs, 60ís rock and ethnic sounds that will keep you relistening in two albums: "Stand" and "Live At Crossroads." $10 for tape, $15 for CD.
A very honest and useful book about ministry to the homeless by Jeremy Reynalds is available from Joy Junction, PO Box 27693, Albuquerque, NM 87125 or you can call them at 505-877-6967. In many ways this is a handbook that will save hours of deliberation, tons of pain and mountains of misery. Any church or person who feels led into this kind of ministry should read this book. $10
The growing, prolific pen of David Guzik now produces a very usable commentary on Genesis that will save teachers hours of time. David stays in the type of studies that produce light and insight and avoids needless discussions. Highly recommended. $15 Enduring Word Media, 25 West Easy Street, #306, Simi Valley, CA 93065, phone 805-527-0199.
Any fortunate participant in worship at Calvary Chapel of Merritt Island, FL will want their live worship CD called "The Worship Band II." Others are in for a pleasant surprise. $15, Sound Truth 1-800-328-7837
As a service to you, Servant Quarters will get any of these for you if you cannot find them.
The Albanian edition of "The Jesus Style" has been published in Albania. The comments of the publisher and translator bear reading:
We have just completed the printing of a new book, The Jesus Style. The author, Gayle D. Erwin, is making this free copy available to you. This is perhaps the most powerful and significant book we have published here in Albania. Itís a "must reading" for every believer! Let me share the excitement of my translator/editor about this book.
Lee Church, Vernon Publishing
My name is Edlira Mulla. Iím 6.5 years old in the Lord.
I have been given the priviledge to read the book, The Jesus Style in English and to edit the Albanian translation of this book. I found it exciting, challenging and profitable for my own spiritual life. This book will leave an indelible impression in your heart and life.
My spiritual life has changed since I worked on it. As I was sharing this with my disciples, they were challenged too, and now that they have read the book, they are experiencing a new perspective in their spiritual lives.
The message of the book is powerful and so is the language the author uses. It analyzes the different styles of Christians today and compares them with the never changing style of Jesus. You will be challenged to compare your own style (and your churchís style) with the style of Jesus so that you learn how to live and serve Him.
My friend shared a videotape she had made of your "Teachings of Paul" from the second letter to Corinthians, Chapter Five. Because this viewing fell on a receptive heart, I have been growing in my relationship with God, taken out the garbage and gone crazy for Him....
Please put me on your mailing list so that my relationship with the Lord can continue to grow daily.Sue Ellen Shirk
You have blessed my life for many years and now, thanks to technology, you are blessing the people I minister to as well. In recent months, I have been leading group studies on "The Jesus Style" on a regular basis and we wanted to encourage you by sending the enclosed messages. Some are prayers to the Lord in response to the teaching; some are personal encouragement to you. I am so grateful that I was discipled in "The Jesus Style" fifteen years ago and I am still surrendering to servant principles daily.Gidget Stewart
Here is part of two of the prayers sent with Gidgetís letter.
When I think of servants, I picture so many people Iíve known who have served others in unselfish ways. Help me to be willing to be of service to others. I need to think about this more.
Jesus, your life was the greatest example. The way you trusted people and the freedom of choice you gave them is the most powerful witness I know.
If humility means wholeness, I want it!
Thank you Father that Jesus lived a real life. May our faith have feet and hands, a voice and a heart that it may minister to others.
New to your site and have really enjoyed what I have (so far) seen. Sam Allen (pastor of Chico Calvary Chapel) made an article of yours available last Sunday: a refreshing speculation on 1-1-2000. Excited to share with others, I gave away my only copy, thinking I could easily get another on the Web. So, where is it? Do I just need to be a bit more patient or is it not going to appear? (Under "Newsletters," October, November, December 1998-Gayle) Struggling to be anxious for nothing.Tim Clark
I wanted you to know just how much your ministry has meant to our family. Our boys have grown up watching your tapes. Our oldest, Chris, has recently left home and is living, working and attending college in Morro Bay. This letter sent by a new friend he has been witnessing to sums up how much the teaching of the nature of Jesus has impacted the lives Chris has touched. We worry less about him being away because of the great foundation in Christ he has. The young man who wrote this letter is now planning on becoming a youth pastor. God is so awesome!Judy and Reggie Lambkin
Excerpts from letter about their son.
All those years that passed, running from God, full of bitterness. I always wanted a best friend; if I didn't have it I would put something else in that void.
The more I hung out with Chris, the more God revealed to me his heart. He is the most caring, compassionate, sensitive person I have ever met. And for so long I looked at those traits as something bad. I thought that sarcasm and insensitivity was "tough".
He is in the Word for himself now, and he is falling in love with Christ more and more everyday. He is such a blessing to have in my life.
My Daughter who lives in Eugene, OR, tells me she has been spreading your propaganda again (The Jesus Style). And since she's given away the books I previously provided for her to pass around (to great benefit I might add), I now need to know what the current price is on that book, and if I give you an order, can you send them to her address?
Thanks again for your ministry. I remember the times we shared when I was still on staff at Crossroads Community Church in Vancouver, WA. Great memories. Last time I saw you you were ministering at the Central Heights Mennonite Church here in Abbotsford, B.C.Jim Ratzlaff, Pastor,