I never saw myself as a "bad child" when I was growing up, but others, including my parents, often did; at least that's what they sometimes said. When I was 9, I was sent home from Vacation Bible School for being "disruptive." When I was 11, I was kicked out of Cub Scouts for fighting. When I was 12, I was baptized, but when I was 13, I quit church for good. When I was 16 a girl across the street invited me to her church. When I was 17 I met Linda Wesner (at that church), now my wife. When I was 18 I decided to go to Bible College. I took with me $50 and a suitcase. I graduated in 1975 and went on to get a Master's Degree at Morehead State University.
That was about the time I discovered that several people had been praying for me for years. My Aunt Joyce prayed for me unceasingly. A man named Dale Daugherty invited me and a few friends to his home regularly to play pool, ping pong, eat hotdogs, and talk to us about God. A school teacher named Bob Bishop invited me to a Bible study when I was 16, and discipled me in amazing ways. A little old lady who worked at an ice cream shop in Louisville told me that she would pray for me all the way through Bible college, and she did. She also mailed me a five-dollar bill once a month for four years. I never knew until much later what a sacrifice that had been.
Someday I will get to Heaven. When I do, I have a hunch that the Lord will gather together all the preachers and say, "I want all of you to know that your success as a pastor was dependent on something you may never have been aware of." Then He will say, "See that door over there in the corner? I'm going to open it and you will finally understand how you got here today and how you helped others get here too."
Then He will open the door and I, along with scores of others, will look inside and see a quiet, humble servant--an aunt--a little gray-haired elderly woman or man, a neighbor, an ice cream shop worker, or someone else...then the Lord will say, "Those folks prayed for you, and I listened, and I answered their prayers, and that's why you (and many others) are here today. Welcome Home."
You know something friend? You should never underestimate the power of prayer for a child, a grandchild, a friend's child, an abandoned child, a neglected child, a troubled child, a frightened child, an unruly child, or for any child. Prayer matters. Your prayer matters. It's the arm that moves the hand of God.
Jesus put it like this in Matthew 18:2-5, "For an answer, Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me." (MSG version).
There's inherent value, power, and worth in children...all children. Guess what? You can draw it out...and you can determine their future by dispensing unconditional love, and unrelenting prayer. Next time you say you don't have a mission in life, or nothing important to do...try giving yourself to praying for children...like Grace, Ava, Garrett, Adeline, Cooper, Jaxson, Bennett, Asher, Israel, and Elijah...just a smattering on the list of kids I'm praying for today. God always answers a prayer that is according to His will, and praying for kids is one of those kinds of prayer.
If Katherine Holsclaw were still alive today I would most certainly want to visit her and give her a hug. Then I would say, with a tear in my eye, "Thank you for praying for me." By the way, she's the little old lady in the Ice Cream shop in Louisville, KY who invested hundreds of prayers, and about $200 dollars more than she could afford, into my life. Be like her. Change the world...on your knees