What Time Is Right?
Everyone has a special moment in every church service. For some is prayer, praise, the word etc. My special moments may vary based on my expectations in each service. Nonetheless, one moment remain constant which is altar call [a time the preacher calls out to those who want to surrender their life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ through repentance from sin to come make an open declaration to embrace righteousness and let go of their sinful lifestyle]. This write up is in light of my ‘altar call’ special moment.
It was a midweek service, the pastor made full-proof of his calling by delivering a spirit-filled, soul-touching and life-transforming sermon as God gave him utterance by the working of the Holy Spirit. The congregation was solemn. Like always, the pastor did not end the sermon without making an altar call.
While he made the call, several persons came out but my attention was glued to a young boy maybe 8 or 9 years old in my assessment. My heart leaped for joy, with scriptures on children upbringing ringing in my mind (Deut. 6:6-7; Prov. 22:6). Is someone asking why my eyes were opened? Well, that’s a story for another day.
My attention went away briefly from the young lad as I saw a woman rush towards the altar in a manner that caught my attention. I rejoiced with the thought that she was ready to make a decision to follow Jesus but to my greatest surprise, she reached out to the young boy and pulled him away from those standing before the altar. Efforts by protocol officers to stop her failed and to avoid creating a scene they let her go with the boy. My joy was short-lived.
At the close of service, I met her to inquire her reasons for such action. Her response was rather not satisfactory.
“The boy is my son. He is 9 years old. I don’t think it is time for him to accept Jesus into his life. When it is time I will personally lead him to Christ”.
Her statement though genuine from her viewpoint made me sad. Then I asked myself What Time Is Right?
By God’s design as revealed in scriptures (Deut. 6:6-9; Matt. 18:1-14) children are to be diligently taught to know and accept the way of the Lord at the earliest available opportunity. This is so because children are sinners (Psalms 51:5; 58:3; Rom. 3:23) and need salvation. Failure to do this would attract grave consequences (disorderliness, premature death, corruption, immorality and bad leadership). Children need to be saved from the consequence of sin which is everlasting death (Luke 19:10; John 10:10).
Children are very receptive to the word of God. One important characteristic of little children that Christ pointed the attention of the disciples to is humility (Matt. 18:4) and they have a teachable heart. What are the vices we observe in adults? Pride, hardened heart, unbelief, unteachable heart, sceptical mind, independence and because children do not possess these vices, it makes it easier for them to receive the gospel. A child’s mind/heart at birth is complete “Tabula rasa” (clean slate) that grows with whatever is planted on it, a wet clay that needs to be moulded now (Isaiah 28:8-9).
Children can believe in Christ and live godly lives (Matt. 18:6). It is established that: 1% of people make decision for Christ between ages of 0-4 years while 84% do so between the age bracket of 4-14 years. About 10% and 4% do same between the ages of 15-30 years and after 30 years respectively (Children Evangelism Ministry, Nigeria). Furthermore, the development of the child is 50% between conception and 4 years, 30% between 4 and 8 years, 20% between 8 and 17 years. Hence, some school of thought are of the view that 85% of the eventual personality of a child is formed in the first 6 years while by age 3, a child has laid down foundations of his personality (Daily Times of Nigeria). These researches confirm biblical injunctions (Proverbs 19:18; 22:6 and Deut. 31:11-13). The child has great opportunities to become what he is trained to become.
Finally, children are most times referred to as “future leaders” of the church or society at large. Nonetheless, we must see them as part of today’s church as this will help intensify their preparation to indeed lead the church in the future. This preparation begins from teaching them to accept Jesus as Lord and personal saviour from conception (From conception? YES!) to delivery, during their formative years and stay true to this commitment throughout their time on earth and win many more souls for the Lord among other things (Matt. 6:33).