Nine-year-old Joshua lives on the shores of Lake Victoria in northern Tanzania. [Locate Tanzania on a map.] Joshua loves to pray and would like to become a pastor.
Joshua’s mother has taught her children to share their faith with others. “People in my church go out in small groups to share God’s love with others,” Joshua says. “So it’s natural to tell people about Jesus.
Joshua likes to play with his friend Joseph. Sometimes the boys talk about God. Joshua invited Joseph to attend children’s meetings at his church, and his mother agreed. Joseph liked what he was learning and wanted to attend Sabbath School when the meetings ended. But Joseph’s mom needed him at home on Sabbath to help her wash clothes. So Joseph couldn’t go to church with Joshua.
The boys were disappointed, but Joshua didn’t quit talking about Jesus to his friend. “I tell Joseph that Jesus loves him and has special plans for his life,” Joshua says. “I encourage Joseph to tell his mother that Jesus loves her and to invite her to come to church on Sabbath. So far she hasn’t come to church,” Joshua says. “But I won’t give up.”
Joshua’s mother can’t afford to send him to an Adventist school, so he attends a public school. Joshua doesn’t mind; he finds lots of ways to share God’s love with his classmates. During recess Joshua invites the children to gather to hear Bible stories. “I tell them Jesus was a boy like us, only He was perfect. He did what His earthly parents—and God—wanted Him to do. Jesus grew up in His father’s carpenter shop and learned about God from His parents.
“When Jesus was a man, He taught the people about God and worked many miracles to help others. He came to live on earth so that the people would know what God is like. Some people wanted to kill Him because His perfect life showed them how sinful they were. Jesus knew that they were going to kill Him, but He allowed it so that God would be glorified. Jesus went back to heaven, but He promised to come again one day and take His children home. We’re still waiting for that day, but I’m sure it will be soon. It’s important to be ready when Jesus comes.”
Every day a group of children gathers to hear Joshua tell Bible stories. As many as 10 children come to hear Joshua’s stories, but three come every day. Joshua invites them to help him tell Bible stories to the other children. He reads a Bible story book to find stories to tell at school.
Joshua has learned to tell stories from a church elder he calls Teacher Japan. Joshua listens carefully when Teacher Japan tells a story. “He makes the Bible stories come alive,” says Joshua. “I like listening to him! Teacher Japan encourages me to keep telling my friends Bible stories. And when Teacher Japan preaches, sometimes he asks me to read Scripture or pray.”
Joshua’s church is big. The children have their own church services in their own building. We children also have our own church services in our own church building. The older children take turns preaching for children’s church. Joshua would like to preach in the children’s church one day. He would like to preach about Noah.
Joshua would like to tell other children that Jesus loves them and wants them to be ready when He comes to take His children home. “That means we must be like Jesus so others will want to get to know Him too.
Joshua has the right idea. Let’s do everything we can this week to share God’s love with others. We can do that by being gentle and kind, by helping others, and by telling them how much God loves them. And we can do that by sharing our offering today. Who wants to be like Jesus? [Let children respond.]