John M. Drescher, Finland
What led to my sense of God’s call to accept the invitation to serve as Campus Pastor at Quakertown Christian School? At the forefront was the strong belief that in middle childhood we prepare children, in a special way, for the teen years and the rest of life. Never again, in so short a time, will parents and teachers make so great an impact on a child.
Middle childhood is the great imitation stage, when the child is guided primarily by the models the child sees. It is of great importance that the child has right models. And if these kind of models are not provided, the child will, during these years, find other models, often to the parent’s dismay. In the years from 6 to 12 the child is an absorbing surface, sensing feelings, attitudes, and teachings, filing them away for future reference. It is a constant amazement how quickly children in this stage of life can memorize the Scriptures, which will be an influence, a reference point for the rest of life.
During these years the child needs words of encouragement and love. Studies are clear, many children choose their vocation during this time. For example a recent Lutheran study learned that one half of their pastors had decided on ministry by age 11. Many a missionary call comes during middle childhood by what children see and hear.
Here the ground work is laid for the major decisions of life to be made, such as dating standards,
choices of vocations, and what contributions will be made to the church and society.
When we recognize this, we realize that every moment is a God moment and every relationship is significant.
Of course parents are the primary models. Never will parent’s example guide more powerfully than during these years. Even when they are in their teen years children still want to know what parents think and do more than what anyone else thinks and does.
In the home is where love is demonstrated and felt. I recently asked a young girl, “What do you appreciate most about your family?” Her reply was immediate, “We all love each other”.
Teachers, during the school year, spend more direct time with the child than the parents and have an influence far greater than they ever imagined. Teachers set the atmosphere and provide the models to imitate. After I spoke on Christian stewardship, a twelve year old boy shared that he is going to count his money and give a tithe to Jesus. Also how parents affirm, pray for, and speak about teachers has tremendous impact on their child’s behavior and thinking.
I think of a retreat of seventh graders from Quakertown Christian School. It was a God moment. The speaker, dressed in clothes such as the Apostle Paul might have worn, led the students through Paul’s conversion and missionary travels. These sessions were followed by a fireside worship and prayer time, during which nearly every student came forward to ask for prayer and to make a new commitment a never-to-be-forgotten spiritual experience.