“Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs” (Mathew 19:14). The Gospels record Jesus saying these words to those who want to remove the children from his presence.
Jesus is saying something we know to be true today: children have their own ways to participate in churches, differently from adults, but with attention to their special capacity to learn and share.
Churches must be sensitive to the need to protect children. National churches and partner agencies may have a well developed set of policies or templates that are locally adaptable. On a local level, churches can develop policies and train those who work with children to keep them safe from those who would exploit their vulnerability.
In this issue, we have examples of how members of the Anabaptist Mennonite family are making a place for children in their local churches around the world.
Gerda Landes of Mennonitengemeinden e.V., Karlsruhe-Thomashof in Germany explains how safe church policies strengthen healthy interaction. They not only teach volunteers to avoid abuse, they raise conversations about positive behaviour for an environment that nurtures and empowers children.
Elsie Rempel of Canada offers a sample children’s story that teaches solid biblical content in an interactive way appropriate to the learning level of children.
Jessica Mondal from a Bharatiya Jukta Christa Prachar Mandali church in India writes how her congregation is attentive to training their teachers. In a rapidly changing world, they recognize the need to constantly adapt to the needs of the children they are serving.
But children are ready to receive and act on the gospel message as well. Juan Carlos Moreno tells how children's ministry leaders in Peru learned that the children were not only receiving the gospel message, but sharing it with others.
In Zimbabwe, Peace Clubs combine Christian education with training children in peace skills and creation care.
At a global level, MWC was a one of 13 co-organizers of Faith Action on Children on the Move: A Global Partners Forum 16–19 October 2018 in Rome, Italy. The purpose of the forum was to learn, exchange, inform and plan. People of faith are a powerful force in the world who can catalyze shifts in both attitudes and behaviour. The organizers are continuing to draft an action plan.
In this issue, you will also find the MWC world map, which can be pulled out and posted on your wall. Also, follow the included link to find more maps and demographic information.
You’ll find the Assembly News included here, with the first information about the upcoming gathering in Indonesia in 2021.
And MWC events continue in between: a gathering for Renewal 2027 in Costa Rica, and the “scattered” events of World Fellowship Sunday, Peace Sunday, and YABs Fellowship Week: times to celebrate the global Anabaptist family in our local congregations.
—Karla Braun is editor of Courier and writer for Mennonite World Conference. She lives in Winnipeg, Canada.
This article first appeared in Courier/Correo/Courrier April 2019.