Written by Katie Dunning
A reflection from Katie Dunning, participant with the Latin America Regional Team and coordinator for BS@CS KIDS, our children’s ministry program.
Spring is an easy time to reflect on growth. Recently my children and I took to the yard, admired the blooming bulbs, listened to the birds, picnicked with snacks, hollered greetings at neighbors, dug for the sake of getting dirty, and carefully tended to the plants that, I’d at least, like to see survive a season subject to their play. And in conjunction with this peaceful scene, I also navigated a toddler melt-down, an epic sibling argument over our tree swing, and a 5-year-old’s ethical dilemma over telling the truth. Upon coming inside, I was thankful to hear my son exclaim to his sister: “Best day ever, right?!” I imagine that there will be many more days of us sorting out life’s lessons, trying to nourish their understanding of how to be.
And for us, how to be is characterized by God’s Word and the example of Jesus.
Paul writes in Galatians 5:22-23, “...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.”
In a recent update from G.O.D. Latin America Cooperative and also a mother to a toddler, Lorena Mejia, shared about her conviction to engage children from the community: “It is a great challenge for us because there are children who have no discipline in their homes and spend a lot of time on the street, without their parents worrying about them. It is something that we notice daily and see so little love given to them, that it moves us to show our love and take care of them by teaching them God’s values.”
Mejia initiated a series on the ‘fruits of the spirit’ with local children in her neighborhood in El Salvador. She is helping them to conceptualize Paul’s words through the implementation of a kinesthetic approach---- a small garden! The children will be expected to care for their group garden themselves, to sow seeds and to nurture its growth, and, eventually be able to harvest fruit and bring it home to their families. This daily practice provides the children with an active depiction of what it takes to produce good fruit in real life.
With the eyes of Jesus, Mejia is taking consideration for more than just her own child, but also the children in front of her and believing that in time, they'll all witness some observable growth amongst each other. Through intentional teaching and repetition, their hearts can be cultivated for laying roots in the ethics of God. This is an act of of faith on her part. And it’s our way of proactively protesting any hopelessness that may interrupt our confidence in raising good human beings.
Do we see a garden of sprouting little peacemakers when we look at our children, and our friend’s children? Our attitude towards sowing seeds of faith, our patience with our own development, our enacting of self-control, our generosity towards others—all affect how children around us take in those teachable ‘front yard’ moments. It’s an opportunity that will never ever go away so long as there are children around!
When I look at my children and the children of my friends, I’d like to say I see little peacemakers in the making. Mejia, no doubt, shares this vision. Though separated by distance, we share the privilege of working in the Spirit with God, and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to nurture the growth of the next generation. What we sow into children today, will in faith, affect the way we experience our world tomorrow.