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By Guest Editorial Pastor Greg Howell
Community Grace Brethren Church 

This Father's Day, look to the children and help guide them

 


I have to admit that I was not very interested in holding babies (or anything else to do with them) for the first seven years of our marriage. Maybe because I thought they were pretty fragile and messy, especially infants. My wife, Colleen, early in our marriage, tried to involve me by constantly trying to thrust the little ones into my arms. She would insist on the two of us volunteering in the church nursery together. Still I was not too interested in the noisy, messy, little creatures. More contact really did not improve my outlook at all. Maybe strengthened my disinterest.

But all of that changed when the nurse placed my first-born into my arms! Austin is a twin and was a preemie, as was his sister, Ashleigh. It all changed when I was the dad of these two precious little souls. The other babies Colleen tried to get me to hold and care about belonged to other people. They weren’t mine or my responsibility and so I was unexcited about spending much of any time even hold them. What a striking turnabout. (Sorry if I offended those other parents).

We were so excited to be parents (after seven years of waiting and wishing and praying) that we both got up in the middle of the night to tend to them. First feed one, then 30 minutes later wake up together to feed the other. Then about 30 minutes later change the first and repeat about a half-hour later on the other one. This went on for over a month, and we have bleary-eyed pictures to prove it! Then we got smart—not only did we take turns, but got them both up, fed and changed at the same time, and were able to sleep most of the night most nights. And I wasn’t too worried about “breaking,” them even though Ashleigh was small enough to hold in the palm of one hand. In fact, both of them had to wear doll clothes the first several weeks of their tiny little lives, because no one was making preemie outfits in those days.

Now, almost 36 years later, we have nine grown children and 16 grandchildren, and that makes being a dad and grandpa pretty special. And I like other peoples’ children a whole lot, too. In fact children are pretty important to me. I take to heart what Jesus said about considering their worth: But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, "Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all." (Mark 10:14-15 NASB)

It seems to me that there are at least two reasons that we should care for and provide quality opportunities for children and youth: 1) because Jesus said to and 2) because they will control the last days of our lives and the future of the planet.

There are lots of opportunities for providing positive activities and guidance in our community. And parents and leaders will welcome your help. Volunteer to assist with youth and children’s programs that are offered at your church, even helping together with your wife in the nursery. Or coach, referee, or set up and tear down for community programs like Little League. Help out with or become a leader for 4-H or FFA clubs and projects (you don’t have to have a child in the club to lead). Or volunteer to be a D.O.G. (Dads of Great students) at the Primary School. Men are especially needed (even grandpa-aged men) to help provide solid male role models. We all want our kids to be safe, so all of these opportunities protect the children and families by background checking all adult leaders and helpers.

And my interest in children isn’t just about giving them fun activities and character building opportunities, which are good and important. But, because of what Jesus said, I want to be sure that all learn that faith in God is so simple that a child can comprehend it. I want to especially help children and teens know and follow Jesus, because that will have eternal results that will far outlast any other legacy I could leave as a father.

Pastor Greg Howell

Community Grace Brethren Church

 

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