A FOCUS ON CHILDREN

Touching the Head, Heart, and Stomach with Love

Walt Disney began his entertainment empire with a single focus on children. Disney is reported to have explained his business plan as making movies for children, who will in turn bring their parents. Thus, he captured both markets.

A Communist party leader is said to have declared, “Give me a child from age one to six, and he will be a communist for life.

If the secular world understands the value of marketing to children, should not the church much more make children’s ministries one of its top priorities?

In fact, mission experts call the 10-year developmental period from age four to 14 as the “4-14 Window,” during which time, research suggests, that 85 percent of all conversions to Christianity occur!

Jesus prioritized ministry to children and commanded His disciples to not hinder the children from coming to Him (Matthew 19:14). He also emphasized His anointing to preach the Gospel to the poor (Luke 4:18). More than just lip service, Jesus helped others and healed the sick (Acts 10:38). Our model of ministry should resemble His, should it not?

According to UNICEF, one billion of the estimated 2.2 billion children worldwide live in poverty. These children need the Gospel.

Furthermore, today Satan has launched a global attack on children. In John 10:10, Jesus actually described the work of the two opposing forces in the battle for our children. The negative—Satan seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. The positive—Jesus comes to give life and life more abundantly.

Satan, like a roaring lion targets children as his prey (1 Peter 5:8). He deceptively works to rob children physically, spiritually, emotionally, and educationally—to deny them from reaching the potential God created in them.

Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, loved the little children, ministered to them, and provided them a future and hope (Jeremiah 29:10). His ministry to children is our example and should be our standard.

Do not be deceived … there is warfare between good and evil for the eternal destiny of every child on earth. From every country, culture, class, color, and category, all children are at risk. No child is exempt … all are vulnerable.

Satan uses many tools in his attack on children, but we are not ignorant of his ploys of deception to lure our children into drugs, premarital sex, low self-esteem, and other unhealthy and anti-Biblical lifestyle choices.

A cycle of poverty is one of Satan’s favorite tools in inner city slums and rural villages. Trapped in poverty and hopelessness, multitudes of children have no avenue out of the prison of Satan’s grip, unless someone brings the Gospel to them. Finishing the Great Commission must include reaching these precious children.

At Tommy and Poppi Smith Ministries, we seek to rescue these children through our benevolence and care ministry prong defined as “pulling down the strongholds of poverty and suffering.” But how do we do this?

Only the Gospel of Christ’s love breaks the stronghold of the cycle of poverty. God has given us a strategy of presenting the Gospel of love to break this vicious cycle, especially in children’s ministry.

Our holistic ministry to children seeks to touch the head, the heart, and the stomach with the love of Christ. We combine Biblical spirituality (the heart), physical well-being (the stomach) and education (the head), tied together by a saturation of Christ’s love. Our experience is that genuine transformation does occur in the lives of children as we practice this strategy.

POPPI’S KITCHEN outreach serves hot, homemade, nutritious meals to 600 needy children weekly at 10 feeding centers in Jakarta slums and in rural villages on remote Indonesian islands. We partner with local church ministries which sponsor pre-schools, kindergartens, or elementary schools. We come alongside them and help them do what they cannot do.

A typical POPPI’S KITCHEN program begins with a chapel service for the children. This is touching the heart (Biblical spirituality); followed by the meal, touching or literally filling the stomach (physical well-being); afterward, the children attend a church-sponsored school (Christian-based education).

For more than a decade, we have operated POPPI’S KITCHEN using this strategy. Our joy is seeing so many underprivileged children grow up to attend college, get jobs, and follow Christ.

Christian love that touches the head, heart, and stomach will transform a young life for Jesus Christ.

Tommy and Poppi Smith

Regional Superintendent/Representative—South Pacific Region Asia/Indonesia

Project Number 060-0089