Walking in the footsteps of young Samuel

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A grey-haired person is lying next to the altar asleep. A boy walks up to the sleeping figure. What is going on in the church? This is a divine service for children with the Chief Apostle. The topic: hearing a very specific voice and understanding it.

Already the sheer numbers of children made this a very special divine service: more than 2,500 were in our Lavistown church in Cape Town (South Africa) on 11 May 2019. There was also a live broadcast to all congregations in South Africa for children, parents, ministers, and interested members.

“I am going to tell you a secret,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider began. “We just prayed—all of us together for each other.” Because when a congregation comes together, our prayers are as follows: “Please hear the prayer of my sister and my brother.” And: “Today, many, many children prayed especially for you. And I am sure God will answer this prayer.”

How God called Samuel

“Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel answered, ‘Speak, for Your servant hears.’” This is the Bible text from 1 Samuel 3: 10 which the children enacted in a role play.

“God’s voice” over the PA system, a sleeping prophet Eli, and Samuel his student. And the narrator was the Chief Apostle. This is how the young audience learned how little Samuel came to hear and recognise the voice of God, to understand it, and listen to it.

“God talks to us too, and He calls us,” Chief Apostle Schneider said. “Maybe not in the same way as He did with Samuel. At least, God has never opened the window of heaven and called: ‘Jean-Luc!’ But God speaks to us.”

How God calls us today

With another role play and a Power Point presentation the children and the Chief Apostle worked out where the voice of God can be heard today, and what it sounds like when He calls us today. He talks to us

  • through our parents: “We hear the voice of our father and our mother, but behind it is God who calls and tells us what to do so that we are safe.”
  • in divine service: “He talks to us and tells us to keep the commandments, that we should listen to our parents, that we should love one another, and pray for one another because He wants us to be blessed.”
  • through gifts: You have a nice voice, you can play the recorder. That means that God is calling you: “Please serve me. Sing in the choir, play in the orchestra.”
  • through the Holy Spirit: “God can inspire nice thoughts in us and all of a sudden we know that our neighbour needs our help. We don’t need anybody to tell us what to do then. It’s written in our hearts.”
  • in nature: “Every child, every man, every woman—each one of us is responsible for the environment. We must take care of it and protect it.”

In summing up, the Chief Apostle said: “Today we learned that God called Samuel. And when he had understood this, he began to listen for it. That is our task when God calls us today. Do you agree with this? Thank you for this.”

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