June 8th, 2011• 7:00am •
Last summer we were surprised by a visit from two of our young neighbor children. The little girl (9) and the little boy (5) were new next door and had observed us playing in our backyard, from their side of the woods. We introduced ourselves and got to know them better by asking questions. My siblings and I were passionate about reaching out to these two like big sisters and brothers, so we all made it our goal from the very start to be salt and light.
It wasn’t long before our little neighbors began visiting four or five times a week. They would come over after school let out and stay until dinner. We quickly discovered that working in the kitchen was a favorite for both of them! The little boy had never touched flour before! When we made muffins for dinner one night, he had fun playing in the flour bin and learning to crack eggs for the first time ever. We made baking a regular activity, along with other discipleship-oriented activities like football, board games, and story-reading. We decided to plan group activities that would promote structure, fun, and character building through team-work.
One day in early spring of this year, I (Sarah) came home to find the two out playing in our yard. It was warm and breezy, and watching the little boy come up with creative tactics to wipe out my line of matchbox fighter jets was rather amusing. At one point he told me he would finally agree to let me win once, but then his fuel truck somehow snuck into my base camp and blew the place up. When I reminded him of his promise, he mischievously replied “well, I tried to let you win, but it just didn’t work out!” Sometime during the game, he looked up and said, “I know I’m going to heaven when I die.” I replied, “Really! How do you know that?” He smiled. “I asked Jesus to come into my heart.” I smiled back. “That’s great! When did you do that?” He promptly answered, “Today…just a little while ago…with David.” My heart filled with joy, as I watched his beaming face. His smile told a beautiful story! He was even letting his big sister use his electric toy dirt-bike.
On Friday our neighbors dropped by again. I was babysitting a few of the younger ones and making dinner. As I tidied the kitchen and scrubbed a few last dishes, the little girl came over and joined me. We talked about her family – what she loved about her new step-dad who was finally going to get married to her mom in just a few weeks, and what she loved about spending time with her real dad. I also asked her if she knew that her brother had asked Jesus into his heart. She immediately answered, “Yes…what does that mean?” I began to explain that we cannot simply have a knowledge of Jesus but that we must have a personal relationship with Him – like Father and child. She asked, “What does it mean to worship God? What does it mean to have a relationship with God? How do I really become a Christian? I already pray before meals and at bedtime. Doesn’t that mean that I worship God if I know He’s real?” Such wonderful questions! By this time Bethany, Jonathan, and her brother had all joined us in the kitchen to listen in. The little boy enthusiastically blurted out, “I’m already a Christian so I don’t have to pray again!” He enjoyed sharing advice with his big sister on how to make sure she was going to heaven.
That afternoon the little girl prayed to receive Jesus into her heart. She told me that she had believed that God was real, and had prayed to Him. I was thrilled that now she could take this a step further and have a relationship with Him, and worship Him! We gave her an extra Bible that we had and encouraged her to read it every day, in order to discover more about God and His ways. What a beautiful change there was in her! I saw a sudden interest and desire in her to begin honoring her parents by saying Yes ma’am and yes sir. I heard her confess that she needed to love her brother more and would be working on sharing and being kind. We were ALL standing there in the kitchen surrounded by blueberry muffins, just having a marvelous time talking about Jesus Christ and how we could love and serve Him more! When it was time for them to go home, the little boy gave me a huge hug and yelled “Goodbye sister! I’ll see you next time!” So precious, so priceless! Praise the Lord!
We are getting to know our little neighbors more and more every day. Just one week after these two prayed to dedicate their lives to Jesus Christ, their step-sister came to visit and also received salvation. We are seeing incredible fruit resulting in the lives of these precious children, as they seek to live and act in a way that is glorifying to their Heavenly Father. It is so much fun to spend time with them, reading character-building stories or just baking in the kitchen together. They are so incredibly sincere about seeking God! I believe that God is going to do a beautiful work through this family for His Kingdom! In my journal I wrote, “All I can say is praise the Lord! My God answers prayer, and He has given His priceless treasure gift to these three precious souls! I know that this is just the beginning of a beautiful work that He has begun, and the journey these little ones will take closer to the heart of God – may it be a testimony to the world of God’s redeeming love.”
~ Sarah Stelzl