Hope of a Child (Lent) - Thursday, March 1

lent 2018 devotions lutheran indian ministries

"And he said: 'I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.'"
Matthew 18:3 (NIV)

This year, our 4-year-old granddaughter was old enough to attend vacation Bible school (VBS). Cathy and I were able to take her while we helped out with the preschool children. Our group was one of three groups of children ages 3 to 5. I can tell you, they are a fun age to be with, but they kept us very busy. Some might tend to think VBS is not that important, but the children really do learn a lot.

In the Kingdom of God, along with Holy Baptism, it is important for our children to grow up knowing the Word of God. The main focus at this year’s VBS was Jesus loves us even when we are wrong, do something we shouldn’t, or don’t treat others as we should and that we are all made different.

For children and youth, this is a good message for them to hear. They will all go through a period in their lives when they don’t feel loved or accepted. In their teenage years, because of all of the changes taking place in their lives, they tend to feel even less secure.

On Native American reservations, children and youth have even more obstacles to overcome than perhaps families elsewhere. On most reservations, the number of children living in a home with two parents is very low. Many children and youth are raised by their grandparents (usually a grandmother) or an aunt. Many are removed from their homes altogether because of bad living conditions. Many of the people live in poverty and unhealthy environments.

As bad as this sounds, one of the advantages of living on the reservations is Native communities come together and reach out to help each other however they are able. Individuals in these communities often have someone to rely upon. And now, these children have an even bigger someone to rely upon: Jesus.

Without Jesus in our lives, we wouldn’t experience hope—hope that does not disappoint. Jesus Christ redeemed us from sin and death through His sacrifice for us, and because of His love we now have the hope that so many Native people long for. All they need is the trusting heart of a child.

Thank you, Lord, for loving us and receiving us as your children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Deacon Tom Benzler (Ioway)
Olympic Peninsula, Washington