About 3 weeks ago I helped officiate a funeral for a 14-year-old girl that lived about 4 houses down from my home. She had taken her own life on New Year’s Eve and was discovered by the girl’s mother on New Year’s Day morning in their own home. An unbelievable tragedy to say the least!
I knew the girl because her parents had attended our church for about a year and she was in 3rd grade at that time. I remember that little girl as this sweet, bright-eyed girl who loved to talk about her animals that her family had. One day at church, I had decided to present the Gospel to the kids. I remember this little girl’s eyes and how there were glued to me and every word I said. That little prayed to receive Christ that day. It was a great day!
Now for us children’s ministers that may not be all that surprising but in this case, it was. You see, of all the people I have personally led to Christ, I’ve yet to come across anyone who was as excited to hear the Good News of Jesus like that young lady. After hearing the Gospel that little girl said a profound and honest statement that has echoed in my brain time and time again. With a look of slight frustration, that little girl looked at me and asked, “Why didn’t anyone tell me this before?”
It wasn’t long after that special day and the girl's Baptism that the family quit coming to church. I lost track of the little girl until I heard the news about her passing on New Year’s Day. It had been 5 years since I had seen her last. I was asked to officiate her funeral and as I met with the parents, I had to ask what happened. The parents shared that the girl had been suffering from depression and mental illness. Add in how cruel the teenage years can be to your self-esteem and unfortunately, this little girl didn’t believe her life was worth living. She didn’t believe anyone would care if she was alive or dead. As the church was packed on the day of her funeral, I reminded everyone there of what this little thought of her own life and then I asked them to look around and notice that apparently many people cared if she was alive or dead.
This little girl’s death reminded me that the Gospel is at the center of our “why” in ministry and I’ve got more fire now than ever to make sure that every child I see hears the good news of Jesus. I am so thankful that God called her to receive the Gospel on that day and I’m thankful that I was able to look at those parent’s eyes at her funeral and tell them that although she was not on this planet anymore, she was in the arms of Jesus and that everything was going to be ok. She would be waiting for them when it was there time.
Children’s ministers, let’s make sure that we never get asked why we didn’t tell kids the gospel before. Let’s keep it fresh on our lips and let’s be more passionate than ever about it. The devil is lying to these kids and making them believe that their lives are not worth living. Let’s strive to let them know that God loves them, that He has a wonderful plan for their lives and that their lives are so very much worth living. Can I get an amen?