Last night was Awards Night at our church’s AWANA program. AWANA? What is it, you say? AWANA is a program for children that, according to its Web site, “helps parents and churches worldwide raise children and youth to know, love and serve Christ.” Go follow the link to find out more about it, it’s quite the program.
Because I work evenings, I don’t help out there. My son is involved as a clubber (like in a member of the club) and my daughter volunteers. Every Wednesday, dozens of kids show up at church to play games, listen to an adult tell them how to live as a Christian and learn verses from the Bible. If they learn enough verses or complete enough assignments from their workbook, they earn things. Not that learning the precious word of God is a bad thing, but AWANA is there to make Bible memory a fun thing. And these kids have fun.
Maybe I worry too much, but I pray the verses these children are learning are sinking into their hearts and making them tender for God. I think it does happen because every year there are children who will come to Christ. It is a beautiful thing. But, like anything, there are those whose hearts remain hard. The fun and games keep their minds from the hard truth that they are sinners in desperate need of a savior. After all, how much fun is it to know that you are doomed to hell unless you come to Christ?
It is a delicate job trying to keep 20-30 children happy while also getting them to learn what God says about who He is and what that means for them. I am thankful for the adults who volunteer their time to listen to children recite verses or give them counsel. It’s important because there are many kids whose only relationships with Christians occurs on Wednesday nights.
So I sat and watched all these children receive awards for their work (or lack of work, in some cases) during the year. My prayer for these children, my own included, would be that these years in AWANA aren’t pushed aside when they are too old to be clubbers but that they are treasured as a time when their thirst for God and his word increased and they turned to the Bible.
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! — Psalm 119:1