Teaching Toddlers

I went to a planning meeting today for our church Vacation Bible School for this summer. I took great delight in seeing the surprise and pleasure in the face of the woman in charge when I told her I was willing and able to teach any age group she needed taught. Even toddlers? Yes even toddlers.  It brought back some good memories.

When I was pregnant. I use to sing in my devotions all the time. One song I sang was the 23rd Psalm in Japanese. I had served in Japan for a couple of years as a single missionary and had put that Psalm to music. When the nurse was wheeling our daughter in her little crib into my room she had to rush to aid someone else. She left my baby just outside of my room. Kari began to cry. I had a difficult birthing experience and couldn’t get out of the bed. I began to sing that song in Japanese and immediately my baby quieted and became calm. Children of all ages respond to God and His Word if we are willing to include them in our worship.

Our last Sunday before leaving for our mission work in Japan we were asked to share our work with one of the Sunday School classes. We asked for the two and three-year-old class. If you’re a missionary speaking for the purpose of raising money this might not be the best class to choose. If you’re going to make an impression though, this class may just be the most impressionable.

We had a wonderful time telling them how God had asked our family to go to a country far away in Japan to teach the people about Jesus. We explained that we would be in the air traveling to Japan as they learned about Jesus the very next time they came to church. We asked them to pray that God would keep us safe.

They handled our chopsticks, admired our pictures, and tasted our seaweed. They even tried to learn God is So Good in Japanese. Our daughter had been singing it since she was 2 so we knew they could do it if they tried.

I asked God to help them understand about our mission to reach the Japanese with the good news about Jesus and His love. I looked into that sea of little faces and allowed Jesus to let me see them through His eyes. He made it clear while He was here on earth that He wanted the little ones brought to Him. Now people were bringing little children to him for him to touch, but the disciples scolded those who brought them.  But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” After he took the children in his arms, he placed his hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10:13-16

 Shortly after we were settled in Japan we received a letter from the father of a two year old in that Sunday school class we had taught.  He wrote that the Sunday after we left he was helping out in Children’s Church. When the children were asked who needed prayer, his daughter said, “the Silly Birdies in the air need to be safe.”

After the leader prayed for all the interesting birds God had made to be safe, she stood up, put her little hands on her hips, and said in a very frustrated voice, “Not those Silly Birdies. The ones going to Shapan.”  She may not have been able to say our last name, Ciliberti, very well or even the name of the country where we were going, Japan. But that little heart heard that we needed Jesus to keep us safe as we flew there, and she wanted Jesus to help us. No child is too young to hear the good news that Jesus loves them. No child is too young to hear the good news that God is good. God is great. God is listening when we talk to Him. We can’t see Him, but He always has His eyes on us and His ears open to our prayers.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 “These words I am commanding you today must be kept in mind, and you must teach them to your children and speak of them as you sit in your house, as you walk along the road, as you lie down, and as you get up.”  Seriously! Teach toddlers about God!

Suzi Ciliberti works for Christar, a Missions Agency that plants churches among least-reached Asians worldwide. She served in Japan for two years as a single missionary and another nine with her husband and two children, then the family returned to the states. She and her husband have been serving in the US Mobilization Center since 2000. As a part of the Member Care Department, Suzi is consultant to families with children. She has been working as a children’s teacher since she was 17 and began her training under Child Evangelism Fellowship. She has taught in the church, as a school teacher for two years in a Christian elementary school, and as a speaker for adults training to work with children. She has also trained children, who are a part of families that work overseas, in their identity in Christ. She brings 44 years of teaching experience to her work. She loves creative writing as well as teaching and has found great fulfillment in combining the two as she blogs for Heartprints. She finds it a great privilege and joy to serve the Lord and His people. One of her favorite verses is Deuteronomy 4:10b, "Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children."

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