Manchester Vineyard: Kids

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8.30am. This is not a time many people in their 20s would choose to see on a chilly Sunday. This particular morning was totally worth it though.

Progress in communications between us and our gracious hosts definitely made the morning run more smoothly. Not a salt shaker or fork to be seen up or downstairs. Having creatively rearranged tables and chairs (mostly to maximise space but also to protect little heads from faux-marble pillars…) we set to work creating the ultimate playroom.

It’s not all that usual to cater for a 7-year age gap in one room, but even as a 20-something there was a ridiculous amount of fun to be had with pop-up tents, giant puzzles and endless toy cars. After the necessity of tea, croissants and prayer, we welcomed in the smaller members of our new church.

Yes there were a few tears. However, they continued only for a minute or so before separation anxiety was forgotten and buried under a mound of building blocks and weird connecting plastic things with some inventive name.

The children played together beautifully. It must just be said that 3-year-olds are the best at duck-duck-goose. Who knew?

Last week was one massive party. Quite rightly so. We are so overjoyed that each and every one of these children is part of our church and of course we should celebrate in style!

This week, though, we began to talk about our favourite topic – Jesus.

Part of the joy of working with little people is appreciating the simple beauty of many of the things Jesus did. Today was all about Jesus healing the lepers.

Naturally, they all accessed the story on different levels. Our resident 9-year-old was able to explain very clearly the signs and symptoms of the disease, whereas the smaller ones looked saddened more by the idea that they wouldn’t be allowed to live with those who love them. Regardless of their level of engagement, 3 of them put their hands up to receive prayer for healing. Within seconds there was not a small hand in the place (except for one cheeky monkey hiding in the popup tent) that wasn’t placed in prayer on the shoulder of one of their little friends. A beautiful moment.

For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.

This time we didn’t see any immediate signs of healing. But we’ll never stop asking. We helped each other to draw around our hands and on them wrote the names of other people we could help. One girl told me of a friend with anxiety-related tummy aches. As we keep modelling prayer and love, maybe this little one will be able to pray for her friend? Maybe invite her to Kids one week? Maybe she’ll meet Jesus too.

The boldness of children is a beautiful thing. Please pray for all of them as they learn more about the God who loves them and calls them, and us, to love others.

Vineyard Kids (currently for children aged 2-10 years) sign in at 10.15am each Sunday at The Rampant Lion Complex. We’d love to see you next week. Fun is guaranteed!