Last week we had a good Bible School at Oak Grove Baptist church. Yesterday we had the commencement service as part of our Sunday morning worship service. I can’t ever get through a Bible School without thinking of a certain little girl I talked with during Bible School many years ago. Here’s the story.
I was in my first pastorate, Mckinney Cove Baptist, and it was Bible School week. The attendance was excellent each night as several visiting kids who weren’t part of our church were coming. One of those visitors was a sweet little girl named Kateland. She was probably around ten years old.
Kateland’s teacher brought her to me one night and said, “Kateland would like to talk to you about her salvation.” I said, “Sure.” Then I took Kateland into the room I was using for counseling. Once there, the conversation went like this:
Me: “Alright, Kateland, what did you want to talk to me about?”
Kateland: “I want to get saved.”
Me: “That’s great, and I’ll be glad to help you with that. But, first, I’d like for you to tell me what makes you think you are not saved?” (The answer I was hoping for was something along the lines, “Because God is holy, I’m a sinner, and I need to have my sins forgiven.” Actually, though, I was going to play off any answer Kateland gave and use it as a starting point to present the plan of salvation. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t quite ready for what she said.)
Kateland: “Well, you could get saved at the church I used to go to, but I didn’t. Then, so many people started getting saved at that church that we had to go to another church. That church didn’t save anybody, and I couldn’t get saved there. So, I’d like to get saved at this church.”
As I sat there and listened to all that, I couldn’t help but chuckle. In all my years of counseling with kids during Bible Schools, that answer still stands out as the most memorable. As a matter of fact, I went home that night and made a point of writing it down verbatim and putting it in my files, just so I wouldn’t forget it.
And how did I respond to Kateland’s answer? Well, after I processed it for a second or two, I decided the best thing to do was scale everything back to the simplest basics of the plan of salvation and walk her through them. So I did that. Then, when I was finished, we bowed our heads and I led her in a “Repeat after me…” prayer in which she asked Jesus to be her Savior. She was as sincere as she could be, and I like to think that she got saved that night. I really can’t say for certain, though, because her parents attended another church and I never got the chance to talk with her again.
I think about Kateland’s answer anytime I’m trying to lead a child to Jesus. It’s so hard to discern how much a child truly understands about God, sin, Christ’s death on the cross, and salvation. Certainly you don’t ever want to discourage any child who says, “I want to get saved.” But, on the other hand, you don’t want to play a part in helping anybody think they have gotten saved when they really haven’t. Even more than that, in the worst-case scenarios, you don’t want to have a hand in getting a kid baptized who isn’t even a Christian.
In the end, the best you can do is faithfully, sincerely, and tactfully work with any child who comes to you to talk about salvation. It’s always good to keep the gospel as simple as you can without gutting it of its necessary theology. Most importantly, you must rely on God to give you wisdom and discernment to know when a child is genuinely ready to accept Jesus and when some more seasoning is required. God knows who He is drawing to Himself by way of the Holy Spirit, and the same Spirit who is drawing the child will give you the confirmation that the child is ready to get saved.
It’s an inexact science to be sure, no doubt about it, but I’ve found that God is more than willing to help the Christian who is honestly trying to do right by a child. The fact is that Katelands are out there everywhere, and we’ve got to sort through what they understand and what they don’t understand in our efforts to lead them to Jesus. Christian, somebody did that for you once, and you should be willing to do it for others, whether they be old or young. Is it an easy thing to do? Certainly not, as I’ve pointed out in this post. On the plus side, though, the rewards of winning someone to Jesus, whether that person be an adult or a child, are nothing less than out of this world.