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Children and the Holy Spirit

CHILDREN AND THE HOLY SPIRIT

From the things I had seen of children’s experiences of the Holy Spirit, I wrote “Spying out the Land” (Young Resources 1999). The title relates to the story in Numbers chs.13,14. When the Israelites were being prepared to go into their Promised Land, spies were sent to explore and bring back some idea of what the land was like. I believe that with a promised land of revival ahead of us, these experiences of “Spying out the Land” will help us to be prepared for what is to come.

The text of “Spying out the Land” is here for you to freely download.

Spying out the Land – written by Graeme C. Young © 1999 Graeme Young

– Some Holy Spirit experiences of children 1987- 1999.
– things we can expect to see much more of in the promised land of revival.

For boys and girls – to encourage your faith for what Jesus is going to be doing with you.
For parents – to help you to know what to expect your children to be involved in.
For children’s workers and helpers – to encourage you in your partnership with boys and girls.
For Church Leaders – to help you to make decisions which will make room for what is happening with children.

“The land we explored is an excellent one.” Numbers 14v7.

I am grateful to all the named and unnamed spies in this book, who have shown me more of the Land than I would ever have seen on my own.

Contents

Discovering the Land
1. A New Land!
2. Turning Point
3. Preparing the Spies

Viewing the Land
4. Pictures
5. Words

Exploring the Land
6. Thoughts and Feelings
7. Dreams
8. Singing and Dancing
9. Prayer
10. Tongues
11. Healing and More
12. A Father to the Fatherless

Adventuring in the Land
13. Discipleship Groups
14. Learning to Lead
15. Evangelism
16. Partnerships
17. Preaching

Living in the Land
18. Touching Heaven
19. Crossing Over
Discovering the Land

1. A New Land!

Boys and girls may find this first part hard to believe because they now look at so much of what is in this book as their normal experience.
Whenever I teach church leaders and children’s workers about children’s ministry I ask them these two questions:

1. “How many of you, when you were children, were knowingly involved in using gifts of the Holy Spirit?”

2. “How many of you, when you were children, were in a church where the gifts of the Holy Spirit were a normal part of church life, even if they were not expected to be experienced by children?”

Unless there are young people there, the answer is often nil to both questions! I then ask, “Do you see where that puts us?”
None of us knows what we are doing; and nearly all church leadership and teaching of children has been based on us passing on to others what is in our experience.
The experience of children is now so wonderfully different from that of those of us who are older, that we can’t lead them now in the way we would have done in the past.

Some years ago, when I was praying, God gave me a picture which helped me to focus my ministry.
At first I saw a picture in my mind of a group of children sitting in a semicircle with me sitting facing them. It was just like my memories of Sunday school classes. I felt God say, “That’s not a good picture of how things should be.”
I asked Him to show me more, and I then had a picture of a crowd of children going happily down a road together, and I was in the middle of them. I felt that God was saying, “Don’t see children so much as a group to be taught, but rather as a movement to be in the middle of.”
I then asked, “If I am involved as a leader, why am I not at the front?”
I felt God say, “You can’t lead this, it is not your movement, it’s theirs. There will be boys and girls who will lead others of their own age, but you must be in the middle with them for things to work right.”
So in the past 12 years I have been trying to be a partner to children, and to make room for them to fulfil what God is calling them to. This is the story of what I have seen so far.

2. Turning Point

In 1987, I was asked to lead the children’s programme at Canterbury Christian Family Conference. Although I had done lots of church work with children before then, I had only recently got used to practical experience of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in my own life and in the church I was working with.
In thinking about the conference, I wondered, “How far can these gifts of the Holy Spirit be experienced among children?”
I did not know the answer! I had seen some hints in the ministry of others, and I thought that since the Canterbury Family Conference had been specifically set up for Holy Spirit ministry, the leaders would not mind if we tried to help the children to gain some experience in this area.
None of us on the team knew from experience what we could expect, so we had experimental workshop groups where we gave room for the Holy Spirit to do things with the children if He wanted to, and He did!
It was almost infuriating (in a nice sort of way) how children stepped with ease into experiences that we adults had taken years of struggle to get going in!
There were more pictures and words from heaven than we knew what to do with; children were praying for one another and being healed of lots of little ailments, then they were going to pray for their parents and seeing some of them healed too. There were fresh experiences of worship, and children were practising using the gift of tongues.
At the same conference, in the adults’ tent, one of the speakers, Jean Darnall, was sharing what God had shown her about the fulfilment of a vision that she had received about 20 years previously:
“I saw the British Isles with many little lights all over it, and the Lord drew me closer to it. I saw they were fires that were burning from the top of Scotland to Land’s End. And then I saw lightning come and contact those fires as many of them had made bright spots in different parts of the nation. There were explosions of fire; and streams of fire flowed from Scotland downward over the nation, over from Ireland, down through Wales, right down to the coast – and at the Channel, some of those streams didn’t stop. They flowed right across, those rivers, into Europe and spread out there.”

At Canterbury, in speaking about the things that would show that the second part of the vision was beginning to be fulfilled, Jean Darnall repeated what she had been speaking about at meetings in Scotland that year:
“The second thing I said to watch for is unusual manifestations of the Lord to boys and girls between the ages of 9-15. Jesus is going to appear to them. He’s going to come to them in visions and dreams. He’s going to make himself known to boys and girls who are in non-Christian homes, in homes of violence, in homes where there is no love, in homes where there is no family continuity and care and tenderness – but Jesus is going to come to these children – and they will start appearing. They’ll start coming to their teachers and to other people or other Christians that they will meet, and tell about their unusual dreams and visions of the Lord. The Lord is already doing it friends – so my word was as I went along, to Sunday school teachers and parents – don’t play down what these children tell you when the Lord appears to them – when they come to you and tell you these unusual experiences. And some of these children won’t have ‘churchy language’, you know, they don’t come from Christian families, so they are not going to say it right, the way we are used to hearing it, but they will be telling about unusual experiences. When that time comes, give them the nurture and the wisdom and the love that they need, because they are future leaders in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, and will become mightily used of the Lord. That’s good news folks! Watch for it and wait for it.
“Start expecting unusual things to happen to the children you are teaching, because the Spirit of the Lord is preparing their hearts to receive the fullness of the Holy Ghost – to receive gifts of the Holy Spirit, to receive healing, to receive ministries of healing to others as the Lord uses these children.”

When I heard that these things were being said in the adult tent, I thought, “This is what we are beginning to see in the children’s tent.”
Over the next year, it began to get written into my heart: “God is going to be using children in special ways in coming revival – we ought to get them ready.”
That has been the focus of my ministry since then, and although it at first appears a very narrow focus, I have discovered that it has implications for everything we do with children in church and in our families.

3. Preparing the Spies

Before telling the stories, I will tell you how I have introduced children to the Holy Spirit and His gifts. Most of the experiences in this book have come in the context of this practical teaching.
When I have the opportunity to spend several hours or more with children, I like to begin by telling them that God wants to use boys and girls in special ways. I explain this using Bible examples, revival history, and recent experience and prophecies (e.g. Jean Darnall).
Secondly I ask them how they would like God to use them. I give them the opportunity to suggest their own ideas or to choose from the list of ways children were used in the Bible.
(It is worth noting that in all the times I have asked this question of children in 12 years, I am only aware of two, who for some reason did not want to give an answer).
Then we consider the question: If God is going to use us, how can we be ready?
I explain the following four steps and demonstrate how they relate to God using us.

TURN from everything that spoils your life and hinders you from going God’s way.
TRUST your life to Jesus, being prepared to do what He tells you.
TELL OUT what you discover, and what is given to you to bless others.
TAKE IN the Holy Spirit to give you power to follow Jesus and to give you gifts through which God will use you.

Next I ask these two questions and give the children the opportunity to make a note of their response.

1. “Which of these four steps can you say that you have already done?”

2. “Which are you ready to do now, to be ready for God to use you?”

I then help the children to take the steps they have chosen. I ask those who have decided to TURN to come to the front and I pray for them, that they will be released from the power of anything that hinders them.
Then, for those who chose TRUST I have a big piece of paper for them to stand on which has ‘JESUS’ written on it.
For those who chose to TELL OUT, I point out that we don’t need to pray for them because they have just done it – they have shown openly their commitment to Jesus! But we still pray for them anyway that they will be able to TELL OUT in situations which are less supportive that the one they are in at that time.
I make sure that those who respond on the TAKE IN step are prayed for individually – simply that the Holy Spirit will come to them, fill them and give them gifts that can be used in serving Jesus.

Afterwards we have a time to experiment with the Holy Spirit – not to try to put the Holy Spirit in a test-tube (!), but rather to ask the Holy Spirit to show us what it is like to be used for Jesus, and to give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to give us experience of His gifts.
Although this has been a useful framework for me, it is not a formula to apply in all situations! I was once going to spend some time with a group of children who were on the fringe of a church in East London, and the Holy Spirit said to me “Do it back to front.”
At first I thought, “I can’t do that! It’s not right!”, but I couldn’t escape – so I started off saying that Jesus is wonderful and alive, His kingdom is near enough to get hold of, and His Spirit is here to bring what Jesus has for us, so if we put someone in the middle and pray for them, then things will happen.
So we put a willing volunteer in the middle, laid hands on him, prayed, then asked him what he felt. He said, “I felt like electricity going through me.”
We then asked God to give pictures, and He did straight away. It was noticeable how children who were not yet Christians were getting pictures which were clearly designed to lead them to Jesus, such as one of an open Bible and a cross.
That experience demonstrated clearly what I have repeatedly found to be the case – that children’s experience of the things of the kingdom of heaven is not dependent on their commitment, but rather on their openness and the opportunity being given to them. Later in the day we were able to go over the rest of the teaching – which they were interested to hear and respond to because they had already discovered the reality of Jesus’ interest in them!
So here are some examples of the Holy Spirit’s work with children. This is not the whole story! I have friends who have seen very special different things happen and on a different scale – and there’s a lot been happening that I have not heard about – but this is my report of children I have had the privilege to be with during the past 12 years.
When the Israelites were being prepared to go into their Promised Land (see Numbers 13-14), spies were sent to explore and bring back some idea of what the land was like. I believe that with a promised land of revival ahead of us, these experiences of “Spying out the Land” will help us to be prepared for what is to come.

Viewing the Land

4. Pictures

Beginning to See
Probably the most common way I have seen children experience the Holy Spirit is in receiving pictures in their minds from Him. Here are some ways in which this has happened:-
• in a minute of quiet with eyes shut after asking the Holy Spirit to show us what it is like to be used in this way.
• when I have sung to a group using the gift of tongues – not for the children to interpret, but to give a context of worship and opening to heaven.
• when praying specifically for a child to receive something from the Holy Spirit.
• in times of ‘hands-on-praying’ for one another in a group, when those praying have received pictures for the person being prayed for.

Being reluctant to acknowledge a picture as coming from the Holy Spirit is more of an adult problem than a child one, but it has been important to address it.
I once asked a child, “What did you get?”
“Nothing.”
“What sort of nothing?”
“I only saw darkness.”
“Well, darkness isn’t nothing, it’s darkness. Now let us ask God to show you more.” And He did!
Another time I saw that a girl had sketched what she had received.
“What did you get?”
“Nothing.”
“That’s not true, I saw you draw something. What was it?”
“It was only a house.”
“Don’t say only. If the Holy Spirit gives a picture of a house, that’s important. Was there anything special about the house?”
“It had clean curtains and dirty windows.”
“Now that’s interesting!”
This was a very important message for the children that day – as God was giving them new experiences in Holy Spirit gifts (like the new curtains), they should make sure that the windows of their lives were clean.
On a number of occasions children have been reluctant to share what they have received, because it was incomplete or they did not know what it meant, or they thought that it was too “ordinary” for it to be something from God. Then they have found that someone else in the group has had a similar or the same picture – and then their delight is obvious!
The story of the prophet Jeremiah, from Jeremiah Chapter 1, is useful here.
After thinking that he was too young to be used, Jeremiah heard God say, “What do you see?”
“Rod of an almond tree.”
He didn’t know what it meant; he only had to say what he saw.
God played with words in his reply – ‘almond’ and ‘watching’ sounding very much the same in Hebrew – then God said, “Now, what do you see?”
This time it was a moving picture – really weird – a boiling pot about to tip over from the north.
I often point out that if Jeremiah had not acknowledged the first picture, then God would not have said to him, “Now, what do you see?”
The pictures that children have received from the Holy Spirit have been for a number of different purposes, as can be seen in the rest of this chapter.

Pictures for Personal Encouragement
Many pictures that children receive are for their personal encouragement – to know more clearly of Jesus’ love for them in their heart.
Ten-year-old Steven had a flow of pictures at a conference. He said that he thought that it was heaven that he was seeing, so he asked Jesus, and Jesus told him that it was!
He then had pictures of himself speaking about Jesus to more and more people, in front of a huge crowd, and then speaking to the world which was spinning in front of him. Later in the week he shared with the grown-ups as a “young man seeing visions”, and the day after he prayed for the congregation, an “old man” called Arthur came to thank him, because at nearly 70 he had just received his first picture from the Holy Spirit. When Arthur shared his picture with the congregation, he began to prophesy too! I afterwards mentioned to Steven that this was the beginning of the fulfilment of the pictures God had been giving him. “I know,” he said in a matter of fact manner!
Nine-year-old Clare had a vision – a ‘moving picture’:
“I was running down a winding path – the path led me to a city of gold – and the path went through the city of gold and led me to a palace – and Jesus was on the throne and there were some people standing next to Jesus. We all got some treasure – they all kept their treasure, but I shared my treasure with the poor. When the others wanted their treasure, there wasn’t any there, but I got more and more. Then one day we went looking for apples – we all got lots. I shared mine with the hungry, but the others didn’t – and when they were hungry, there weren’t any apples left.”
Eight-year-old Rebecca described her vision: “I saw a door. I walked up to it and there was Jesus, and He said, “Rebecca, my beloved. Come and sit with me for I have been waiting for you to come into my kingdom.”

Pictures to Bless Others in a Personal Way
It is great fun when the Holy Spirit gives pictures to children that they don’t understand which are designed to personally bless others who recognise their significance to them.
At one church weekend, one of the children had a picture of an old fireplace.
The next day when we were sharing the group’s pictures with the adults, I felt that God was saying, “It does not matter how old you are, what matters is: is the fire still burning in your life?”
An old married couple took the picture as being for them. They had not attended the whole weekend but had walked there that morning. On the way they had stopped to look into a builder’s yard where they noticed an old fireplace just like one they used to have!
Also that weekend we prayed for pictures to bless others in the church.
I have found it helpful in church settings to get the children to draw the pictures that they have received, then I have shown them to the adults, and explained anything I understood about them (sometimes not much at all!). Then I have asked anyone to whom they have significance to take them – and thereby open themselves to receive whatever the Holy Spirit wants to give them.
On this occasion, one girl drew a picture of a church building with a cross outside it. I felt that it was for someone who had been in a traditional church but had not found the reality of Jesus until they had looked outside it. At first no one responded, but then I pointed out that the church building was not a British one but looked like pictures I had seen of church buildings in some parts of Europe. When I asked if anyone had seen a church like it, a woman there mentioned that there was one like it in the village she came from in Austria!
At a large church a girl had a picture of a “jack-in-the-box”. She was not satisfied with her drawing of it and wrote on it, “This is not a good picture”. That made me determined to find out for her its significance. In the service I came up with what I thought was a good idea – that God is like a “jack-in-the-box” – you know what He is like, but He always somehow surprises you!
A woman took the picture, and after the service I saw her with it and asked about its significance for her. “Oh, I work in a playgroup, and it’s called ‘Jack-in-the-Box’.”
Just then, the girl who got the picture came past so I was able to let her know why her picture that neither of us had understood was so special!
On one weekend, after the children had drawn pictures they had received, we looked at them together to see if there was anything more that the Holy Spirit would show us about them before sharing them with the adults. One picture was of a bridge with flowers. A girl of about ten said, “That reminds me of the painting by Monet.”
I made a note of that unusual contribution, and I had to take her word for it, as I did not know what she was talking about!
The next day I held up the picture and asked whether it was special to any of those present. At first no one responded, so I added, “One of the girls said it reminded her of the painting by Monet.”
At this an elderly lady gave a little gasp – and raised her hand to take the picture.
When asked why it was special to her, she said that in the part of the conference centre that she was staying in, there was a print of Monet’s painting, and she had said to a friend during the weekend, “I wish I had that picture in my house.” (She hadn’t liked the frame though, so she was glad to have an ‘original’ to take home with her!)
On a holiday camp with some young teens and younger children, we spent some time visiting some Christians and praying for them. I had heard of a man who had recently left a fellowship because it was drawing back from an openness which it had been experiencing. I felt that we should bless this man, and I decided to visit him.
It was not possible to take any of the children with me, so before I went we asked the Holy Spirit for pictures and words that would be significant to him. I did not know the man, and I knew that the church he had come from would certainly not be used to such a style of ministry!
I visited him in his home, explained the situation, and shared what the children had received:-
• a picture of a musical box with a figure that turned when the music played. The man said, “I have always wanted one of those.”
• a picture of a small room, a door and a lightbulb. When the light was switched it didn’t work, but when the bulb was changed it worked. The man said, “I am always forgetting to change broken lightbulbs.”
• the verse about enlarging the place of your tents (Isaiah 54v2). The man said, “This has been a special verse for me for years.”

Pictures to Highlight an Issue for Prayer or Ministry
A seven-year-old boy drew a picture of what he described as a feeling of having one of his arms cut off from below the elbow – and bleeding from it. Not knowing what it was about, I chatted with him about some of the different ways God can use pictures.
As we spoke, it came into my mind that with an arm cut off a person can’t do what they otherwise would be able to, and I then asked him the question that had just come into my mind, “Have you ever wanted to do something for Jesus, but someone stopped you doing it?”

I was surprised when without any hesitation he immediately said, “Yes! There was a time when I wanted to go to the church, and be there with Jesus and God, and tell them that I wanted to be one of them – but mum and dad wouldn’t let me.”
This had happened when he was four years old!
When later we were talking in the group about the pictures we had received, I decided to ask if anyone else had had a similar experience.
A boy of about ten raised his hand and said that a friend had once asked him to do something, and he wasn’t sure – so he asked Jesus about it, and Jesus had told him that it was okay – but his mother did not allow him.
It was good to be able to pray with these boys about these sensitive times when they had been wanting to honour Jesus. These issues may never have come to light if the Holy Spirit had not given the picture.
Incidentally, I have found consistently that the Holy Spirit only ever raises an issue if it exactly the right time, place and relationship for it to be dealt with positively.
You will read more examples of this in Chapter 12: A Father to the Fatherless.

Pictures to Encourage Someone to Respond to God
You never know who’s going to be affected when children begin to experience the Holy Spirit. A child’s picture of two roads and the need to choose the right one brought a tearful response from the mother of the boy who had the picture!
When the Holy Spirit is at work, it’s good to have someone around who can pick up what is happening. On two occasions my daughter Jane was on hand when younger children were receiving something that needed to be shared.
Six-year-old Clare had a ‘picture story’ at the beginning of a large celebration with about four hundred people present. Jane noticed and came to mention it to me. I was just about to start the service, so instead of listening to the explanation of the picture, I asked Clare if she would later share it from the platform. At the end of the meeting, after I had preached, she took the microphone and said what she had seen:
“I got a picture of Jesus walking down a street and a man. The man asked Jesus, “You’re not the same as me,” and he asked him, “Why?”
“And Jesus said, “Because you have an empty heart and I have a full one.”
“And he said, “No, I don’t have an empty heart – I’m fine, I’m alright.” And he went home – and he found that he did have an empty heart. The next day he saw Jesus again. He went back to Jesus and he said, “Yes, you’re right, I do have an empty heart.” And he said, “How do I get it full?”
“And Jesus said, “If you follow me, you’ll get it full.””

Jane was also on hand at a family conference week to write down word for word what six-year-old Bethany described:
“There were two ways. One belonged to Jesus and the other to the Devil. The Devil called to a group of children to come his way. Jesus was calling for them to come his way. The children screamed they couldn’t because the Devil was pulling them. Jesus cut the ropes the Devil was pulling them with. The Devil had nothing to pull with, but he started to call the children to come his way.
“Jesus said, “You will follow my lead.” Most of the children followed him, but one stayed with the Devil. He saw all the happy children and wanted to be with them.
“Then the boy said, “I will follow you, Jesus. I don’t want to follow the Devil.”
“Jesus said, “You won’t be on the edges. I have forgiven you and you will have a special place beside me.””

I meant to tell the children about this picture but I forgot until the last evening. We had already given opportunities during the week when children had given their lives to Jesus. I read the story, and asked who it was for, and three boys gave their lives to Jesus straight away!

Pictures to Bring Something to the Attention of the Church
At the church of the ‘fireplace’ and the ‘Austrian church’, a child had a picture of a sunny beach (quite a common theme of Holy Spirit pictures I’ve found). There was a border of flowers with a barrier, with people grouped behind the barrier away from the beach, then the barrier was opened but no one moved. When the picture was shared, I did not explain what it meant – the church recognised it as a description of them – they had recently broken through in Holy Spirit experience, but they were at the stage where they were a little hesitant to move forward and enjoy it to the full!
Somehow, pictures like this are easier to receive when people know that the child who got it can have no idea of its significance. There was a time when we were having a prayer get-together for children in our church. At one meeting there were a lot of pictures – and we made a note of them all.
I’m afraid I misinterpreted some of them. I could not see what they might mean, but later, some serious sin was uncovered in the church which, when looking back, I can see was clearly being spoken about in the pictures.
At a church leaders’ family day, one girl said, “I had a picture of a sunflower and one of its petals died, and I thought that the sunflower is a bit like the church, and that when people leave, it affects the whole of the church, and how other people see the church.”
This picture was an encouragement for a girl who had previously in the group said that she had not received anything, and when I had asked her what she had been thinking about, she had said, “Just flowers and things.”
The next child said, “I saw a picture of Jesus building this church, and that night a man came and stole the rocks that Jesus was building the church with.”

Pictures to Demonstrate That the Holy Spirit is At Work
As well as the meaning and purpose of individual pictures that the Holy Spirit gives, there is at times something about the occasion which particularly highlights that the Holy Spirit is present.
Arriving very late for a children’s club at the beginning of a weekend with a church, we dived straight into “God wants to use boys and girls – one of the ways he uses them is in giving them pictures – we’ll pray, then you go and draw what the Holy Spirit gives you. If you don’t get anything, come and we will pray for you.”
I think that all of the sixty or so children had a picture – a number of them on the same or related subjects (and no, they weren’t copying!) – while the club workers looked on astonished. “You can’t do that,” they said, “a lot of them are not Christians.”
That does not appear to be such a problem to the Holy Spirit, and it is interesting how often the Holy Spirit gives to those who are not yet Christians pictures that help to focus on Jesus and what he has done and is doing.

Before a family service I was asked how old children should be before we expect to see them experiencing gifts of the Holy Spirit. The service included a ‘workshop’ with the opportunity for people (of whatever age) to get pictures from the Holy Spirit.
I asked the children to share with the congregation what they had received, and the thing that had visibly the most powerful effect was one received and drawn by a four-year-old boy. It was a simple picture of cars, flowers and a smiling face, but a young woman came out in tears, obviously deeply moved, to receive it.The person who had asked me the question at the beginning of the service was delighted. The four-year-old was in her preschool group, so she could see that precious things were already happening there!
I was reminded of two or three-year-old Sarah who once said, “Isn’t it good the way God does those moving pictures on the wall.”
In one church with the children well spread out, they drew the pictures that the Holy Spirit had given them. We discovered that seven of the pictures had angels or mist or both in them, and three had fish and the sea in them. A young child’s drawing (which would not without explanation have been immediately identifiable as fish in the sea!) had been drawn with exactly the same colours as an older child’s clearer drawing of the same subject.

Pictures to Give Supernatural Revelation and Teaching
I love the way in which children get pictures from the Holy Spirit which are from the Bible – without them knowing it, e.g. a branch growing out of the stump of a tree, or a ladder into heaven. I wonder how many Biblical pictures children (and adults) have had without knowing the Bible well enough to recognise them. My favourite in this category was when a young boy drew what he had seen – Jesus on a throne, him and his family following him – and their friends following to see where they were going. He had seen and drawn a rainbow – but it was all green. How can you have a green rainbow? Read Revelation 4v3 and you will find out.
Sometimes it is a help in getting pictures from the Holy Spirit to imagine a door, then ask Jesus to open it and show what is on the other side.
My niece, a school teacher in an ordinary school, in a creative bit of religious education read the first verse of Revelation Chapter 4 where a door into heaven is mentioned. She suggested to her class that they think of a door into heaven, and then to draw what they thought was on the other side. Quite a number of the things that they drew were remarkably like John’s vision, and when their teacher then read to them the rest of the chapter, they were amazed at how similar it was!

Pictures Indicating a Spiritual Truth
Anna aged eight wrote, “God gave me a vision. In it there was God and Jesus in an aeroplane with an angel as a pilot. They were watching the Holy Spirit and the Devil fighting down on earth. During the fight the Devil kept on trying to jump on the Holy Spirit but the Holy Spirit always got there first. The Holy Spirit won, and by the end of the fight the Devil was almost flattened.”

The Holy Spirit in giving children pictures is not restricted to a programme – it can happen at any time, as nicely experienced by Pamela, an eighteen-year-old from a church in Germany where the pastor was against gifts of the Holy Spirit being experienced or expressed.
After a seminar I was leading, Pamela went back to her church, and gave the children teaching on the boys and girls that God used in the Bible. She deliberately avoided any mention of anything ‘charismatic’.
She wrote to me about how she was talking about heaven being at hand and trusting Jesus. “I explained that Jesus is with us in all times we are speaking about him. Suddenly one child, (a four-year-old very difficult boy) said, it is funny, but he sees a picture in his mind … After the lesson was over I asked the children if someone wants to pray at the end (no one did before!). One five-year-old child lifted her finger and prayed with us. I was lucky that such a thing could happen so fast in our group and I’m glad God is working through His Holy Spirit. He was doing it without praying that one child gets the prophecy. “I don’t think that it is necessary to tell the preach [pastor], because it is not from me but from the Holy Spirit!”

5. Words

Getting the Message
It has been a privilege to have been with children as they discover that praying not only involves saying words to God, but also receiving words from Him. On a special weekend, described more fully in Chapter 13: Discipleship Groups, the children were asked, “What words have you had from Jesus this weekend?” Here are the personal words they received:
• Pray more, Becky. Don’t feel bad about praying.
• Pray a bit more.
• He said that we have taken the world for granted.
• He said that I have to go to Iraq.
• Hello, Lorraine. Having fun?
• He said to read the Bible more.
• He said that He loves me and that I’m quite good with my friends.
• He spoke to me about getting over my fear of heights.
• He said to get rid of the fear of praying where people are.
• Hello, Carly, my lovely girl.
• Pray
• Try to enjoy yourself.
• I love you.
• He has said he will heal Steve, and he has started but he has not finished. (Steve, who was helping me lead the weekend, twisted his ankle by standing on a football on the first evening, and so became the object of much prayer practice!)

Much of what is written about the use of pictures applies to words also, but here are particular ways in which I have seen Words being used.

Words for a Church
In one of the first times I experimented with a group, we asked the Holy Spirit for pictures that would be particularly for those getting them – this was a very special time (more about it in Chapter 12: A Father to the Fatherless).
I then said, “We have asked for pictures for ourselves, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to give us words, this time for the church.”
We prayed, then had a minute of quiet and I asked what they had received, and nine-year-old Chloe said,
“I had some words but they are not from the Bible.”
I asked what they were.
“Those who are rich.”
I remembered, with the help of the Holy Spirit, that there is a verse which says to command those who are rich in the things of this world, to not be proud, but to share with those in need. It is in 1Timothy 6v17.
Chloe then said, “I was also thinking about a bag of socks in our church”
I was so glad that at the previous mealtime, someone had mentioned to me the existence of such a thing, otherwise I would have been stuck concerning its meaning! As a means of helping the homeless, someone had organised the collection of pairs of socks to distribute to them.
Then Chloe said, “I also had in my mind a story in the Bible about people being given pounds to do things with.”
When we put it together, Chloe, without knowing the connections of what she had experienced, had received a threefold message for the church which I later passed on to the vicar as, “You are a rich church – to know God’s blessing at this time, God wants you to be going to the poor and caring for them.” I don’t think he was used to such prophetic messages – I hope he took notice!
Later in the weekend, Chloe was asked if she would share with the grown-ups what she had received. She was hesitant – and when asked why, she said, “Well, I’m not sure if I am a Christian yet!”
It was a nice encouragement seven or eight years later to discover, through my daughter Jane, that the same Chloe was in the Christian Union at her school – and still remembered the specialness of that weekend.

Words for An Individual
When we came back from a holiday conference where I had been running the children’s programme, I asked my five-year-old daughter, Sarah, what had been particularly special to her during the week.
“Going to the seaside.” That made me smile, because it was the one activity during the week that I had not been involved in! Then she said, “Oh yes, and there was that picture and word I got [for a team member].”
On the last evening of the week, the children had prayed for those who had led them in the children’s programme. When Sarah described the quite complex picture she had received, I was amazed at its accuracy and relevance for the team member’s situation, which I knew from having talked with her during the week.
I mentioned how special it was, but Sarah then added,
“And I had a word for her – it was, “If you are afraid of the Devil, you don’t need to be.””
During the week, as a team we had prayed for an adult, and while we were doing it, the presence of the demonic was evident, and this team member had said afterwards that seeing it had made her a bit afraid – so the word to her was a good one!
Another thing that this incident showed me was that if I hadn’t asked about my daughter’s experience of the week, she may never have told me. There’s a lot more going on with children in the Holy Spirit than we hear about.

During a service at which three men of our congregation were being baptised, there seemed to be a particular anointing on the children. (None of the following things came from any adult’s suggestion.) A group of young ones danced freely during the worship. Dominique, a boy of about five or six years old got a picture of Jesus with a crown of thorns and blood on Jesus’ head – and he cried during the preaching which was on the same subject.
David, of the same age, had a different word for each of the three men.
For the first, “I am your healer.”
For the second, “I want you to know that God is your father.”
For the third, “Be good after you have been baptised.”
I knew the men and how appropriate these words were for them.
There’s an extra ‘Holy Spirit bonus’ to this story: About six years later, I was visiting London for the weekend, and thinking ahead about writing this section later that day on my train journey home. I was thinking about the third man, Mick, and the fact that he had had some struggles as a Christian. He happened to be working with the people whose house I was staying in, and as I came out of the room where I had been thinking about him, there he was in the hallway!
I reminded him of the word, which he had forgotten about, and he said,
“That’s right for me; I have always been something of a rebel.”
I have heard very young children get words from the Holy Spirit as they sing – sometimes singing about Jesus, then to Jesus, then words from Jesus. It is not always possible to record these special words, but on one occasion with five and a half year old Clare I managed to write down her words.

“The Lord is your friend,
Even though you don’t know him,
He’s right beside you.
You can give your heart to him,
He’ll wash away all your sin –
those things that he doesn’t like.
He’ll give His heart to you.
If you’ve been wrong,
Just turn to the right.
He won’t fall out –
He’s your friend.”

(There are more examples of children’s songs in Chapter 8: Singing and Dancing.)
Afterwards, when talking with Clare about getting words from heaven, she said,
“They just come – I get them when I want them.” I noticed in a time of ‘hands-on-praying’ recently, that eight years on she still gets a free flow of words from heaven to bless people.

After one conference, Emily wrote to me to share with me this story that God had given her: ‘It’s the Inside that Matters’.
“Some people are putting on more and more heavy coats (lots of bad things). Yet they were still cold inside (they did not have Jesus in them). Some people are taking off their coats (being forgiven). Yet they were warm (they had Jesus in them).”

There are more examples of words from God in Chapter 18: Touching Heaven.

Exploring the Land

6. Thoughts and Feelings

Sometimes, in a time of asking the Holy Spirit for words and pictures, other things may be going on.
On one occasion, the Holy Spirit highlighted a particular boy to me by giving me a picture of him. This happened when I was praying before I met the group he was in, so I knew God had something special for him.
In our time of asking the Holy Spirit to give us things which we could take to the family service the next day, the children were in three groups, asking God for words, pictures or feelings.
This boy was in the ‘feelings’ group and I asked him what he had received.
He said, “Nothing”, so I then asked him what had been on his mind during the time of prayer.
He said, “I was just thinking about Comic Relief” (the charity day which had happened on the previous day). The boy obviously did not think that this was God speaking to him, but because the Holy Spirit had focussed my attention on him, I said,
“If we have just prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to give us things, and you’re then thinking about Comic Relief, then that’s what the Holy Spirit wants you to be thinking about.”
Since the subject of feeding the poor also came up in another group, I knew that the Holy Spirit wanted something done about it. During the service the next day, I asked all those who were involved in ministry to the poor to stand – and we prayed for them. I then asked people who felt God was calling them to get involved in this area of the church’s ministry to stand. A good number stood, and we prayed for them too.
It was only later in the day that I was told that there was a group of people in the church who had a heart for ministry to the poor. Having become discouraged at their failure to involve a greater number from the congregation, they had decided to disband. Just at that point, through a boy “just thinking about Comic Relief”, the Holy Spirit was able to bless them, honour their ministry, and challenge the church.

At holiday conference times I developed the practice of ‘giving five minutes to the Holy Spirit’ – that is a time when nothing else is on the programme and children are given the freedom to stand, sit, walk around or lie down – whatever they want, as long as they don’t get in the way of anyone else hearing from the Holy Spirit.
These times were all different. On one of them, nine-year-old Clare came up to me during the five minutes of quiet and said, “Dad, I’ve got a sore ear.”
I must admit I was very near to saying, “This is five minutes for the Holy Spirit – go away and don’t interrupt!”
Fortunately, the Holy Spirit prevented me from doing this, and I sensed that He was up to something.
After the five minutes I explained to the children that the Holy Spirit in a time of prayer sometimes gives the feeling of pain or discomfort in a part of the body that someone else needs healing for, and that I felt that this was what had happened with Clare.
We found someone who was troubled with a sore ear, so we got ready to pray for that.
Then I asked if anyone else during the five minutes had felt something that they had not been feeling before, and about 20 children raised their hands. When each of them shared what they had felt, we found another child in the group who needed healing for such a problem. So we got those who had had the feelings to pray for those with the problem, knowing that if the Holy Spirit had highlighted something, it meant that it was the right time and place for it to be dealt with.
At another camp, in asking the Holy Spirit for such feelings, we found the girl that the first one related to. Then we found that the first five things (all different) shared by different children all related to this one girl!
She was blessed – and the inexperienced children were much encouraged.

7. Dreams

In her prophetic vision about the special experiences of children in coming revival, Jean Darnall said about children with no Christian background, “They’ll start coming to their teachers and to other people or other Christians that they will meet, and tell about their unusual dreams and visions of the Lord.”
I was mentioning this some years ago at a children’s workers’ training time, when someone went and told a friend, Sue. She had seen this happen in the school she was working in – and she hadn’t heard about the prophecy. She later told me of the keenness of children to come to a lunchtime club. One child said that when he had been in bed the previous evening, he had seen (as far as he was concerned) Jesus sitting at the bottom of his bed. When Sue asked him how he knew it was Jesus, he said, “I just knew.” He spoke of how he was not afraid or worried.
Another child told her of having a dream in which Jesus was saying, “Come this way.”
There were some other similar incidents, and these were all among children who did not profess to have an understanding or knowledge of Jesus, but who were sure it was Jesus they had experienced.
At Canterbury Christian Family Conference it was late evening and we were about to have a team meeting. I hurried into my four-year-old daughter Sarah’s tent to kiss her goodnight.
I said, “Goodnight, God bless. Maybe Jesus will give you a good dream tonight.”
Her instant reply was, “He gives me good dreams every night.”
Somewhat sceptical I said, “Like what?”
And she proceeded to tell me about three of the most recent ones she’d had!

I have found it interesting to discover that my children while still very young were having dreams which gave them revelation or instruction about spiritual realities – particularly about spiritual warfare – at a level which had not been taught either at home or in church. A recurring theme was how Jesus wins against the Devil.

An eight- or nine-year-old boy wrote, “When I was little, I used to dream that I had a boat and that I took Him (Jesus) everywhere he wanted.”
A similarly aged boy, Alex (whose family were new to church), had a dream at a children’s camp which he told me about later:
“I went to the park and I saw a man standing looking at swings. I went to him and said, “What’s your name?”
“He said, “Jesus.”
“I said, “I thought you weren’t alive.”
“And he said, “I am.” I was amazed.
“Jesus was sitting down talking to me. Someone crept behind him with a knife trying to kill him. It was a Devil’s follower. I said, “There’s a bad man.” Jesus moved and the man hit the ground (the knife stuck in the ground).
“Jesus prayed for him quickly then he turned to follow Jesus.”
Here’s another dream that Alex told me about:
“The church and our family were on a trip and we saw a man. We said, “Who are you?”
“He said, “My name’s Jesus.”
“And we said, “We’ve never seen you like this before.”
“We all played. Jesus had a nice time with us. We haven’t seen Him that close before.”

Another nine-year-old said, “I had a dream of me taking a book to read and I looked at it – the book in the mirror, and it changed into a sword and flashed.”

It is worth mentioning here that we have come across many children with a history of bad dreams (usually related to watching unsuitable things on TV) which have stopped when they have been prayed for, and some of them have begun to receive dreams from the Holy Spirit instead.

8. Singing and Dancing

I have seen lots of variety of expression in boys and girls in praise and worship in their singing and dancing.
Three-year-old Jane, enjoying a Scottish country dance music tape, sang:
“I’m praising Jesus for the good he is.
I’m dancing because Jesus loves us.
I’m praising God and Jesus,
Jesus loves us doesn’t he?”

Nine-year-old Rachel wrote this: “Jesus gave me a picture of a man running through a tunnel. Then there was light. I thought it meant that Jesus loves me. Then He gave me a song – it was lovely:

“Jesus can heal – Jesus can heal us
He’ll never let us down in prayer,
Jesus can heal us.
Sometimes, sometimes things can get down on me,
But Jesus can heal, Jesus can heal us.”

Seven-year-old Cher got me to write down for her this song which she wrote:
“Jesus, hop aboard,
Jesus, hop aboard.
Come to me for any street you want to go to.
I love you, Jesus,
You are the best one.
I love you for ever.
When I come up to heaven
I will love you for ever.
When you are there,
You are my best.
Hop in my boat,
I will be happy to give you a ride.
Please will you heal these people ill out there.
When my grandma was going to have a heart attack I prayed to you, you healed her.
You’re my best, the only best,
I love you, Jesus.”

In a day of introducing a church’s children to the Holy Spirit, we divided them into four groups and had four workshops (each lasting 15 minutes) for them to visit:- one for pictures, one for words, one for hands-on-praying, and one for worship.
In the worship workshop, with each group we prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to give us words for a song, then I sang in tongues to the group, then asked them what thoughts, ideas or words they had. The following four songs were produced.

1. Jesus, break the chains and set us free,
Bring us to new life and we will be free.
The chains of sin will turn us in to evil ways,
They take us away from God – But we want to be free.

2. Jesus says to us, “I love you, I wash you clean.”
Jesus says to us, “I love you, I purify your heart.
I’m coming, I’m coming,
I’m on my way, Lord Jesus,
I’m on my way to heaven today.
I’m coming, I’m coming,
I’m on my way, Lord Jesus,
I’m on my way to heaven today.

3. All the countries of the world fit together in Jesus.
All the countries of the world fit together in Jesus,
He’s a friend; He’s a friend to us all.
He rose from the dead,
And He set his Spirit flowing
Like a never-ending river of His love.

4. Jesus, we love you, Jesus is our love.
Jesus, we worship you,
Take us into your light.
We are in your hands,
Jesus we are in your heart.

Jesus, we love you so much,
Yes we love you, yes we love you.

As well as lines of songs coming as words from the Holy Spirit, children have also written songs that indicate their experience of the Holy Spirit and His anointing.
Nine-year-old Ben wrote this for our theme at Canterbury Christian Family Conference one year:
We are the revival road builders,
Building the way for things to come.
To make sure great things can happen,
We are here to get the job done,
We are here to get the job done.

The glory of the Lord will be revealed
To everybody, both young and old,
We shall work hard for this to happen,
Fill every valley; make the hills become plains,
Fill every valley; make the hills become plains.

In the wilderness we’ll prepare a road,
In the desert we shall clear the way.
We shall make rough country smooth,
We shall level every mountain for our God,
We shall level every mountain for our God.

We have a message to deliver,
Be prepared for here He comes,
Don’t be afraid, Jesus is with us,
Leading in strength till heaven comes,
Leading in strength till heaven comes.

Ten-year-old Jane had a fresh idea which she expressed in this way:

It’s like climbing a mountain on banana skins,
You’re losing your foothold because of your sins,
And then you go sliding over the ground
Until your Lord Jesus Christ is found.
It’s like first try at ice-skating when you slip and you slide,
Because of all those wrong things inside,
And then you go sliding over the ground
Until the Lord Jesus Christ is found.

The Lord will give you a helping hand,
And if you fall He’ll understand,
And you won’t go sliding over the ground,
Because your Lord Jesus Christ is found.

Two years later at twelve years old, Jane wrote this lovely song:

Nothing is impossible for God,
Nothing can escape his mighty hand,
There’s a light so bright it can never fail,
As Jesus shines in glory on the land.

He is strong, He is our rock,
We can never be defeated,
He is strong, He is our rock,
We can never be alone.
He is strong, He is our rock,
I can never be defeated,
He is strong, He is our rock,
I can never be alone.

There’s a battle going on and the ending’s known,
When Jesus as our King will take his place,
We fight for love, for happiness and peace,
We fight that others may see with us his face.

Thank you Lord for loving me so much,
For giving me a place deep in your heart,
For holding me in your protecting arms,
For forgiving and understanding from the start.

Dance is of course difficult to describe in a book, but dancing has been at times a significant ingredient in Holy Spirit times with children.
During a singing and dancing session I was having with a congregation’s children, I noticed that there was something about one girl which I can only describe by saying that she was dancing in the Holy Spirit. Two boys came into the room who had not been involved (and whose backgrounds meant that they were not cooperating in the programme!). They started making fun, but I noticed that although there were about twelve children dancing, the only one they made fun of was this particular girl.
(You’ll be glad to know that anger about this led me to pray against what one boy was doing, then to pray for him, and the Holy Spirit gave me some special words for him which affected him deeply.)

Some children have a gift of interpretive dance – creating their own movements while a song is being sung, in a way which conveys a special dimension of Holy Spirit ministry.
Also I have seen worked-out dance actions being taught to a group of children by another child, to release them in worship and togetherness, and sometimes to carry a very special message to those who are watching.
At an all age conference, teenage team members taught (in an amazingly short time) a dance to a group of children accompanying a taped song. When the children danced it was clear that the Holy Spirit was ministering to people – I know because it affected me!
Fiona, who was watching, felt God say to her that this could be happening in her church – and although she had no experience, she got someone to come and lead an initial workshop, then began to lead a group of young teens and children who have developed their own style and varied expression in dance which is an ongoing ministry in the church.
My friend Steve who has gone to live and minister in France, although no dancer himself, is finding that youngsters dancing is a method of evangelism that is being readily received.
I would never have thought from my religious upbringing, or from much of the first part of my life that dancing and the Holy Spirit go so much together – but it is clear that they do!
I like the way a young girl described her experience, “Yesterday the Holy Spirit was let loose in my heart, and now it’s dancing about.”

9. Prayer

It has been wonderful to see the special times that children have when they are given the opportunity to talk to Jesus.
On holiday conferences, I have often sent children out into a field or open space to a place on their own to talk to and listen to Jesus for ten minutes. Many important conversations have taken place. An eight-year-old boy said after such a time, “I feel the Lord said to me, ‘you should go to Africa’ but I don’t know why. I’m sure he’ll give me the answer sometime.” The next year, at the same conference, and during the same sort of time, the Holy Spirit gave him more information on the same subject!

Very young children can have a sensitivity in prayer which was demonstrated when Sarah, two or three years old, interrupted her mum’s prayer for her housegroup with the words, “Pray for Rebecca [a family friend].” Mum at first took no notice and explained she was praying for the housegroup, not Rebecca. Sarah was persistent, so at last mum asked, “What do you want us to pray for her?” Sarah’s reply was, “Jesus loves Rebecca.” A few minutes after they prayed, Rebecca phoned. She was upset and Sarah’s mum was able to tell her that she had just been prayed for. When she shared the simple words that Sarah had received, Rebecca was immediately at peace!

In helping children to minister in the Holy Spirit, I have introduced them to ‘hands-on- praying’, looking for words, pictures, or thoughts to bless the person being prayed for. In this way of praying – putting one hand up to heaven and the other hand on the person being prayed for, then saying the words that can pass on what the Holy Spirit wants to do – the faith and authority of the children have been evident – particularly, I have found, when they have prayed for me and other adults! (You will read more about ‘hands-on-praying’ in Chapter 11: Healing and More.)
A number of times children who have been hesitant to make a start have been helped by being encouraged to pray “Lord, bless [name], and [continue prayer, e.g. help them to… ].” Somehow the Holy Spirit always seems to fill the gaps, and give them things to say in prayer.
On one occasion I was surprised to hear a girl of about eight say boldly to her older sister, “God wants to give you the gift of tongue-speaking.” She was right too, and her sister and some others received that gift.

I have seen openness among children to pray in unexpected settings.
In the south-east London local authority school that my children attended, the deputy head started a weekly Monday morning assembly to “set the week off right” – in which she put a candle on a table in the middle of the hall, let the children sit where they liked, then had a mixed programme including what she called ‘intercessions’. This was an opportunity for any child to stand up and to pray out loud for anyone or anything they wanted. When I took the assembly there, she had to restrict the number of children to about twenty, who (after she had prayed “Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you hear our prayers”) proceeded to pray about all sorts of things. Unbelievable! But I was there when it was happening, and this was their normal experience: totally ordinary school, totally ordinary children, most of them unchurched!

Children have a capacity for a great depth in prayer. On a ‘Learning to Lead’ weekend (for children eight to sixteen years old who were keen to learn how to lead others, along with adults who wanted to partner them), we had a prayer meeting. The group of youngsters who were leading the meeting felt that we should identify, speak against and pray concerning the things that are wrong in the country. The things that were identified by the group as the major areas to pray about were – drugs and alcohol abuse, terrorism and Northern Ireland, cancer and death, and abortion. Prayer together over these issues was mixed with tears in a very special time of Holy Spirit activity.

My friend, Harry Sprange, during the time that this book is dealing with, has concentrated on prayer conferences for children and young teens in Scotland as a preparation for revival. Here are two of his stories:
“In the summer of 1989 I camped with eight boys aged 12 and 13 who wished to join in the Torch Run down Scotland which fed into the March for Jesus from Edinburgh. After spending two days running in the relays down the A9 on the Inverness – Dalwhinnie section, it was suggested at bedtime that they ought to pray that what they had been doing would not be merely symbolic (carrying a flaming torch across the country), but would achieve something in the spiritual realm. The boys then prayed non-stop for two hours interceding for the country with remarkable depth and concern: during that time a number had pictures or visions. One of them saw the group running down the A9, but leaving a trail of paraffin behind them. At a later date God lit the trail and the whole country went up in flames. At this, there was a gasp of astonishment, as the youngest in the group said he’d seen exactly the same thing at the same time. Another boy saw the St. Andrew’s cross as two sticks smouldering at one end: suddenly the whole flag was engulfed in flame.

“In the summer of 1990 the first “Kingdom Kids” prayer camp was held: it was very basic, on a bring-your-own-sleeping-bag and sleep-on-a-church-hall-floor for a week to pray for Scotland basis. There were 35 applicants aged 11-15 despite all the other Christian summer camps available offering decent accommodation and exciting adventure activities! God met with them in a very deep way, and during a time of prayer in small groups one evening, all the youngsters were in tears. The following evening there was a time of exuberant praise during which many of the young people were clapping and some dancing and rattling tambourines, but in the middle of the group two were seen to be weeping bitterly. A boy of just 14 said that God was letting him feel His anger over the state of the church in Scotland and the girl slightly younger said she was feeling God’s heart for the world. They were taken aside and encouraged to pray it through, while the rest of the meeting continued. We expected them to join in shortly after – in fact they each continued for over an hour. Personally I have never seen such a spirit of intercession in those so young as on that occasion.” © Harry Sprange, “Children in Revival” (Christian Focus Publications), copied by permission.

When I was working in London, a mother told me of this extraordinary prayer time her daughter, Tara had been a part of.
In May or June 1991, a little boy went to school in Dulwich, south-east London, and shared with his friends (aged six and seven) that he was feeling anxious about Saddam Hussein (of Iraq). He felt that Britain and London were being threatened by him. The seven children decided that the only thing they could do about it was to pray.
They got into a circle in the playground. Tara was there, along with a girl from a Hindu family, some from atheistic families and two from nominal Church of England families.
They asked each other, “Which god should we pray to?” Having talked about it, they decided that since Hindu gods are just statues, they can’t do anything. When Jesus was mentioned, some did not know much about Him. Tara explained who Jesus is, and that He is alive. The whole group agreed that Jesus is the one to pray to, so in turn they prayed round the group.
(When telling her mum about the incident that evening, Tara asked, “What does ‘mercy’ mean? When we were praying, we were praying for mercy, but we don’t know what it means.” When mum explained, Tara replied, “That’s just what we wanted to pray!”)
When the children were standing in a circle after they had prayed, a bright shining light appeared for a while in the middle of the group. The children got really hot, and went and asked the duty teacher if they could take their coats off!
They felt full of joy, and together they danced through the playground. When Tara’s mum asked her what difference she felt their prayers had made, she said, “Whatever was there isn’t there anymore.”

10. Tongues

I have discovered – mainly by working with children – that the gift of tongues has many uses, for example:-
• overflowing in praise
• worshipping / expressing love for Jesus
• tuning in to heaven
• releasing other gifts
• praying for someone
• giving a message from God
• stopping the Devil
• as a surprise from God.

I have seen children receive the gift of tongues in a number of different ways. Some, when they have been prayed for, immediately start to speak in tongues. Some have received it by speaking or singing along with others using it.
A girl at Jesus Adventure Camp, when she had been prayed for, ‘went out in the Spirit’, and, lying on the ground, as she ‘came round’ was speaking ‘fluently’ in tongues for the first time.
One girl wanted the gift but did not receive it at first when my friend Steve took her through his method of helping children, which is to picture Jesus, thank Him for giving you the gift, and start using it. (For Steve this approach usually works!)
In seeking to help her, he then said, “Can you see Jesus?”
“Oh, yes,” she said.
“What’s he doing?”
“He’s talking to me.”
“What’s he saying?”
“Oh, I can’t say, it sounds really peculiar.”
“Well, what does it sound like?”
“Kershalasundoya…”(or something like that)! So she received the gift of tongues by Jesus speaking in tongues to her in her vision!
There was a fun postscript to this story about a year later. When the children in the girl’s congregation were having a workshop on speaking in tongues, the children’s leader said to her, “You speak in tongues, why don’t you tell the others how to do it?”
“Well”, she said, “You get a grown-up to lay a hand on you and pray for you, and then you get a picture of Jesus speaking in tongues, and you just copy what he is saying!”

Seven-year-old Ben was being trailed around with us one December Saturday delivering invitations to our Christmas services, then going to a prayer meeting on a hilly point overlooking the borough.
At that point, when we were praying, I assumed (wrongly) that Ben would be ‘out of it’, but later in the day he said in passing,
“I was praying in tongues today.”
“Oh, when?” I asked.
“When we were delivering that invitation to that house [a particular family we had been trying to reach] – and when we were praying for the borough.”

Here is an account that a young girl about 10-12 years old wrote of her experience at our first year at Canterbury Christian Family Conference in 1987:
“Yesterday, Jo and Kate [team members] took us into a seminar tent and prayed that Jane and I would be able to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and be able to talk in tongues, and see pictures. When they were praying I felt all fizzy as the Lord was filling me up, and Jane went all bubbly.
“When we were left on our own I had a picture and was able to speak in tongues. The picture I had was of someone walking in darkness and when a little light shone, they walked by. Then another light shone and they walked straight past that again. Then at the end of the road a light shone so brightly and strongly that this time the person ran towards it as fast as they could.
“Jane and I thought about this picture together and decided that as Jane wanted to talk in tongues so much that the picture was for her. So we prayed that she would have faith to talk aloud in tongues – because all it is is some sort of word that comes in your head that you think you’ve made up, so you have to find faith to talk out aloud in these silly words which I call “talking in love”. I feel more cheerful and happy now.
“I would like God to give me more of his gifts so I can follow him step by step.
“I would just like to say that if you want praying for, it is lovely and you are filled with joy so I hope that you will be filled with the Spirit of God and feel the same happiness as me.”

Interpretation of Tongues
I watched Steve lead a workshop on tongues and interpretation with 6-12 year olds.
“Who’s going to speak in tongues?” A hand went up. “And who’s going to interpret?” Another hand went up. (Not the sort of thing that normally happens with adults!)
After doing it, one child asked, “How do you interpret?”
And another replied, “When he speaks in tongues, words in English come into my mind.”
Later in this group, someone prayed in English. “It’s strange,” said another child, “when you were praying in English, words in tongues came into my mind.” So, interpretation in reverse!!
I am grateful to Steve Neale for discovering that when the gift of tongues is being used, then there is a two-way conversation happening. It’s a bit like the picture that Jesus used of “angels ascending and descending.”(John1v51)
A nice example of this was when I sang to some children in tongues during a time of asking the Holy Spirit for revelation for the people in their church. All of the children had pictures, I think, except for two who had received words on the same subject. One was addressed from a person to God; the other was from God to a person. When I was ‘offering’ the pictures and words to the congregation at the service, I held up the ‘person to God’ message and asked, “Who is praying something like this to God?” When a lady signalled that it had significance for her, I said, “Well, I can give you the other side of the conversation – what God is saying to you.” She was blessed!

11. Healing and More

When I first began to discover how children could use the Holy Spirit’s gifts, I was surprised by the ease with which they began to operate in healing.
Having been given a little teaching on the subject, they went off and prayed for themselves and each other about headaches, earaches, tummyaches, coughs and wheezes, and sore fingers and toes. They then reported back about healing of such things.
Then some of them prayed for their parents and came back to tell us that they had been healed too. At this time I was thinking, “When did I ever pray for someone and see them healed?” For me it had been somewhat of a rare occurrence; the children seemed to take it all in their stride as a normal part of daily life!
I have taught children ‘hands-on-praying’ as a way of prayer for healing and blessing others.
Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is at hand – that means it is near enough to get a hand into. We are not thinking about heaven when we die, but heaven in which are all the things that God wants to give us to make our lives what they are meant to be, that is, the sort of things that happened when Jesus was around – like healing for example.
So it’s like heaven being just above our heads – we can live without being in touch with it at all, or we can reach up a hand and get hold of gifts from heaven to bless others.
Then if we reach out the other hand to the person we are praying for, we can pass on to them the healing or other blessing that the Holy Spirit wants them to have.
This is different from ‘normal’ praying for other people, when we ask God for something for them, then expect him to answer directly to the person when we are not there, or to bless them by way of another person.
In ‘hands-on-praying’, we are expecting to get hold of something from heaven and pass it on to the person we are praying for, so that God can touch them and bless them through us as channels.
(A colleague of a friend of mine, when introduced to this kind of praying named it “drain-piping” – letting the water flow to where it is needed.)
It is important to be clean channels if we are being used in this way, as otherwise we may pass on a mixed or tainted ministry to the person we are praying for, which could do them harm rather than good. I explain this to the children and make sure no one is messing about; if they are, I remove them from the group that is praying.
Putting one hand ‘into heaven’, and the other hand on the person, is in itself prayer. By this action we are saying, ‘we are with you, we want you to be blessed, we want to bless you, we want God’s love and power to flow to you.’
I encourage those praying to find prayers in words for the person, as Holy Spirit given words release Holy Spirit power.
As well as asking God for things, this is a time to get pictures or words or feelings which can be passed on to the person.
After praying once, it is useful to ask those involved what they have felt during that time. Children being prayed for have mentioned a variety of feelings: – heat, tingles, “feels like electricity”, and those praying can have unusual feelings too.
These feelings can give an indication of whether ‘the job is done’, or whether to continue.
Having more than one person involved in the ‘hands-on-praying’ gives room for the person to be blessed in a variety of ways. It also keeps the attention of the children away from themselves as individual channels and focusses them on the presence and power of Jesus at work.
At one conference the 5-12 year-old children wrote down their feelings after a time of ‘hands-on-praying’. Here are some of their comments:

Praying for others:
• When I prayed for people I felt the Holy Spirit filling me.
• I helped people to receive the Holy Spirit and a lot of people fell on the floor.
• I felt God was close to me as well as the person I was praying for.
• When I prayed for people I felt very much led by God.
• I prayed for others and I thought it was amazing what God did.
• When I prayed for people I felt that God had something for that person.
• When I was praying for other people my hands were twitching a bit.
• I trusted God and the Holy Spirit when I prayed.

Being prayed for:
• When I was being prayed for I was shaking; I felt like I was burning up.
• I got clonked out.
• I felt Jesus wanted me to be prayed for more and more and I felt really happy. I felt God was really touching me.
• I felt very peaceful and I was getting pictures.
• I could hear people talking but I know I was shaking. I was burning up all over like fire was on me.
• I felt I was nailed to the floor, eyes closed with superglue.
• I felt all warm and tingly inside and it felt as if God was giving me a big hug.
• I felt like the Holy Spirit was around me and in me.
• Jesus said that he loves us and wants us to follow him.
• I think Jesus was telling me to help with disabled people when I grow up.
• I fell down twice on Thursday. When I went down the first time I felt like laughing, the second time I was shaking my hands a bit.
• I liked the praying bit because I felt peaceful afterwards.
• I liked it when we got filled with the Holy Spirit.

There was a memorable experience of children in ‘hands-on-praying’ at a church service which was being taken by a group of youngsters and adults as part of a ‘Learning to Lead’ weekend.
Among those coming for prayer was a young woman in a wheelchair. Some of the children were very keen to pray for her and continued for some time in prayer, with some quite strong words – rebuking the devil and the like! One of the adults asked if I thought we should intervene, but the children involved seemed to have more faith than I had, and they seemed to know more than I did, so while being alongside them, I let them continue.
The result was that the young woman had some feeling restored to her legs that she had not had for years, and with some support on either side, was able to walk a few steps.
Although at least one of the boys was not completely satisfied because she had not been fully healed, the young woman was delighted at what she had received, and she has since been able to enjoy a greater degree of mobility than before – learning to drive a car, and also since becoming a Christian.
The same boy who was used in this ministry had felt that weekend that God was calling him “to pray for people in need.” Four years later he was continuing in this by going on an intercession mission trip to the Middle East.

12. A Father to the Fatherless

As one whose father died just before my seventh birthday, I have a particular interest in the fulfilment of God’s promise, “I will be a father to the fatherless.”
A number of incidents from my experience with children show the variety of ways in which Holy Spirit ministry brings healing to family hurts, and God’s presence and love to children who have missed out in their family background. On some of these occasions it has been boys and girls who have been the instruments of the Holy Spirit in bringing blessing to others.
On an early weekend of experimenting with the Holy Spirit with children, I was leading a workshop group on ‘pictures’. I asked the Holy Spirit to give the children pictures that would be special to themselves. We had a time of quiet and then I asked them what they had received. The first girl had seen (among other things) an apple which I think was lying on the ground.
The next girl had had a picture of the sister of the first girl (that sister was in another group at the time), and she had also seen an apple. Something about the pictures (I can’t remember exactly what) gave me the feeling that these two sisters needed protection – and that the Holy Spirit had highlighted this.
Someone asked the sister from the other group to join us, then as a group we prayed for them to be kept safe and protected. Since I had never met this church group before that weekend, I did not learn until later that day that the parents of the two girls were not at the conference – they were that very day going through divorce proceedings. One of the girls later spoke of how she had been blessed by the Holy Spirit coming alongside her in such a way.

At another church weekend, 10-year-old Vicky had been participating well in my Turn / Trust / Tell out / Take in teaching – but mentioned that although in the past she had tried to trust Jesus, nothing seemed to have happened. While I was talking to her about this, the Holy Spirit gave me a picture which I have used in many situations since. (For more on this see my Children’s Ministry Manual – page 19 “How Children are protected” and page 20 “Ministering Protection to Children”)
If things were as they were meant to be, then every child would have an arch of protection around them, so that if anything came to attack them, it may hurt on the outside, but would not damage their heart. Things happen that leave a gap in the protection, and through that gap hurt can come like a spear to strike deep inside. Jesus wants to fill the gap and remove the spear.
Vicky mentioned that her dad had died when she was two, and I felt that this was the place of hurt that needed healing.
It ‘just so happened’ that her mum was about to marry again, so Vicky was about to have a new dad.
Having explained the picture and its meaning to Vicky, her mum came along. I explained it to her so that she could join in prayer, then Vicky’s new dad came along, so I explained it again! We then put Vicky in an arch which her mum and dad made by standing on either side, and I prayed healing for her past. Everyone was happy; then I remembered that we had got into this because of Vicky’s difficulty in trusting Jesus. I asked Vicky what she had felt while we had been praying and she described how she had seen a picture of Jesus coming to her smiling, with arms wide open. In the vision she had run into Jesus’ arms – so while we were taking care of the family hurts, Vicky had come into the place of being able to give her life to Jesus.

On another occasion I had been asked to visit a mother and her children in one of the congregations of the church I was working with. They had been hurt by the way their father had treated them and he was now no longer living at home.
I thought to myself, “What can I say to children in this situation?”, and my answer was, “I don’t know!” – so before I went, I got my family together and said, “I am going to visit a family who have had some unhappy things happen. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit for words and pictures that would be a help to them.”
My children received:- a picture of an old road coming to a fork with a new road off it, a picture of two people fighting, with the words “Stop fighting”, and 4-year-old Sarah said simply, “Draw a cat.”
Armed with these unlikely things I went to see the family.
With the mother, I saw each child one by one. I told them that I knew they had had unhappy times in their family, and that as the person in the church whose job it was to make sure that children have a happy time, I had come to see them, and, if it was okay with them, to pray for them.
The youngest child was easy to relate to. When the second child came in, his mum introduced him and said, “The problem he and I have is that we are always fighting.”
“Then I have a word for you,” I shared, and pointed out that if God was saying, “Stop fighting,” it was not a rebuke, but an indication that his power was available to do it.
With the next child I felt it right to mention the old road with the new road going off from it. I explained that I thought it meant that although his life had had bad things in the past, God was going to take him on a different, better way.
“I know that,” he said!
I expected that the eldest girl was going to be difficult to relate to. About 11 or 12, and having been mistreated by her father, I was not surprised to see her being hesitant at relating to me. When she came into the room, she sat with her head down. I did my little explanation of why I was there, and then thought, “What do I have left on the list?” and I said, “Do you like cats?”
“Yes,” she said, and looked up.
“Have you got one?”
“No,” she smiled, “Our dog would eat it if we had one.”
“Do you ever draw cats?” I continued.
“No, I’m not very good at drawing.”
I explained about my young child who had received the words, “Draw a cat”, and said,
“God is interested in the things you are interested in, and he does not see you as someone who cannot do things, but as someone who can.”
It was wonderful to have such a good time with the family and to know that the pictures and words received by a 10-year-old, a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old had been more effective than anything else I or most other people could have offered.
A nice postscript to this story happened some time later. I had used this story in teaching children’s workers, making sure I gave no clues as to the identity of the family. Unknown to me, the mother felt that she should get involved in children’s ministry, so she got the tapes and listened to them at home. When ‘their story’ came on, the oldest daughter said, “Mum, that’s us, isn’t it?”
She was really pleased that God was using their situation to be a help to others – so she will be happy about this chapter!

One evening in the children’s tent at Canterbury Christian Family Conference, the ‘workshop’ time had produced a large number of pictures about family hurts.
It was an unusual situation, and I asked the children who had received such pictures to come to the front, show their pictures (which they had drawn), and describe what they were about.
I then invited children who felt that any picture described their family situation to come out and to stand with the child who had the picture.
When they were all matched up, the children who had received the pictures from the Holy Spirit prayed for those they applied to – and there followed a very special, gentle time of ministry, with tears being released both in those praying, and those being prayed for.
I discovered later, that while this was going on, a mum came to the door of the marquee at the end of the evening to collect her two children. One of the team explained to her what was happening, and she the turned round and went flat out on the grass outside!
When she got up she was full of joy. What we had not known was that the subject of family hurts had been addressed that evening in the adult tent. This lady had received prayer ministry there concerning her husband having abandoned her and the children. Although very blessed by this, as she was coming to collect her children she was thinking, “That’s all very well for me, but what about the children?” By the time she arrived at the children’s marquee, her children were already being prayed for and ministered to by other children concerning the same issue – she was overwhelmed!

On a camp for young teens and some younger children, the other person leading the camp mentioned without much warning, that being fatherless can lead to problems in our relationship with God, and that anyone whose father was not around should come to Graeme and be prayed for!
In a way it was good not to have been ‘prepared’ for this or I might have worked out some ‘good ideas’ of what to do. Instead we just prayed that the Holy Spirit would give them an experience of their heavenly Father. A number of them went ‘out in the Spirit’, and it was amazing to me how in a short time of such a meeting with God, these young lives were healed from years of a father’s absence or abuse.It was good to see these young people ‘blossom’ during that week and share about a greater release of Holy Spirit gifts in their lives than they had known before.

Rachel, a young girl from a completely non-Christian background, started to come to our church. Once she asked my daughters, “What’s it like having a dad?”
That question, which is probably on the minds of many children in this generation, stuck in my heart. I wanted to do something about it, and the result was the booklet, “Your Father” which looks at what Jesus said about our Father, and what this means for us. The first copy went to Rachel, and she said afterwards that she no longer needed to ask the question anymore, “because deep down I know the answer… I do have a Father, a wonderful Father – He lives in my heart and He’ll always be with me.”
Jean Darnall’s prophecy (see page 8) speaks of Jesus making himself known “to boys and girls who are in non-Christian homes, in homes of violence, in homes where there is no family continuity and care and tenderness – but Jesus is going to come to these children – and they will start appearing…”

Adventuring in the Land

13. Discipleship Groups

Gathering a Group
One weekend I took a hand-picked group of children (and a few adults) from several congregations to see what would happen in a situation where only those keen on following Jesus were present, without anyone to put them off. I was delighted at the freedom and creativity that was expressed as we experimented together. In a worship service, planned and led entirely by the children, we were taken outside for part of the time to listen to the creation story as we stood in a beautiful garden. Back inside, two girls did handstands as their part of the service. There was no explanation, or point made from it – they just did it as their offering to Jesus.
Another unexpected special time happened in a ‘break-time’ when we were all playing a ball game. I have played the same game on many occasions, and I have seen, as we all know, that team games sometimes bring out the worst in children – and adults! This time it was such a joy to see the wonderful spirit in which the game was played – the result of the Holy Spirit relationships that had grown in our time together. It was a little picture of the kingdom of heaven prophecy in Zechariah 8v5, “The streets will once again be full of boys and girls playing.”
On that weekend I was in the early days of seeking to work according to the picture that God had given me about seeing children as a movement to be in the middle of (described in the first chapter “A New Land”).
I was beginning to find that the Holy Spirit was pointing out to me children that he was anointing to give a lead to others. I felt this especially about one of the girls, 10-year-old Sarah, and in one of the meetings I said so. To single out a child can easily lead to jealousy or rejection by others, but I was encouraged by the immediate response of three or four children and adults who immediately openly agreed. (More about this Sarah later in this chapter.)

Earlystart
Some of the children from that weekend away (aged between 8 and 13 years old) became an experimental weekly ‘Earlystart’ discipleship group, which I led. ‘Earlystart’ is a series of 20 worksheets I wrote for such groups.
This gave the opportunity for the children to study the Bible on their own at home, and then to expect the Holy Spirit to be in action as we talked and prayed together in the group-time.
In a ‘something to think about’ section in one of our first group times, the question was, “How can we make sure that we always win against the Devil?”
When I asked the question, of the eight children present, only one suggested a bit of an answer. It was tempting for me as the ‘adult leader’ to then tell them what I knew about how to beat the Devil, but instead we took a minute of quiet for the Holy Spirit to speak to us. I then asked the question again, and this time everyone had an answer – all different – which when put together gave quite a comprehensive answer to the question! I made a note at the time of what they said:

• The more love we have in our lives, the more power we will have. Good always wins against evil.
• If we keep saying Jesus’ name, it will drive the Devil back.
• Make sure you stay with Jesus.
• Tell other people about Jesus, get more people for Jesus.
• Team togetherness will give us protection.
• Truth will win against the Devil.
• Always go to Jesus. Don’t let the Devil get into you.
• Don’t let the Devil upset you.
• Don’t accept what the Devil gives you.
• Pray all around your house.
• Jesus has already won. Be with Jesus and work for what He wants.
One child had a picture of walking along a long path, with the words, “God loves you”, and evil spirits being pushed away.

On another week when we were considering the subject of our Father in heaven, the question was, “How can we get to know God as he really is?”
Someone said, “Read the Bible.”
I then mentioned that many people say they get what they believe about God from the Bible but they have all sorts of wrong ideas of what He is really like.
“You need the Holy Spirit,” another child said. That was the answer I was looking for (after all, I had written the question!), but another boy, Ben, suggested a further answer:
“You’ve got to love him.”
It’s true, isn’t it, and it is one of the most striking things I have ever heard in my life – we only get to know Father as He really is if we love Him.

KEY Groups
Having helped me in the Earlystart group, my colleague Steve decided to take the idea further in his congregation with what he called KEY groups – ‘Kingdom and Evangelism for Youngsters.’
Eleven-year-old Sarah (mentioned earlier in “Gathering a Group”) agreed to lead the group with the help and partnership of Steve. They would meet a few days before the meeting, and on this occasion they included another child and an adult to train them in the process of leading in this way.
Having agreed together what the content of the KEY group meeting would be, Sarah would then normally lead the meeting, using Steve to help as necessary. For example, she wanted to have a Bible study, but did not know how to lead one, so she asked Steve to do the first one so that she could learn from him how to do it.
The KEY group developed a variety of ideas for growing together, and on some occasions, they held an open meeting to which they invited friends and other children from the church (thus guarding their normal KEY group times for children who were already keen to follow Jesus in this way).

“Jam with the Lamb”
In his next congregation, Steve found a bunch of young lads, aged about 10-13, with a vision to take this discipleship group idea further. They described to Steve the group that they wanted to have, called ‘Jam with the Lamb’. They would meet to pray and to prepare music, dance, rap and drama that they could then take out on the streets to evangelise the shopping crowds. This group was so ready to get on with it, that Steve as the congregation’s ‘children’s worker’ at first had to persuade them that it was a good idea for him to attend! They learned to work together, and his partnership with them meant that they were able to fulfil their goals.
When Steve then started the weekly Saturday ‘Popcorn Children’s Church’, the ‘Jam with the Lamb’ boys became the worship band and the writers and performers of hard-hitting original dramas to reinforce the day’s message to the 200 children. (a note in 2012: Some years later, 2 of these boys have been musicians in the bands of prominent Christian singers, one is leading a congregation in south east London where he continues to take his people out on the streets. Another of the group is involved in missionary work in Uganda!)

Guarding the Group
From what I have seen of discipleship groups for children two things are all important to their spiritual success.
Firstly: the relationship of adult as partner with the children and not as teacher of them. This gives room for the children and the group to hear from and to depend on the Holy Spirit, and encourages the children to initiate, to minister and to lead.
Secondly: the keeping of the group (other than for set ‘open’ meetings) entirely for children who are following Jesus or want to learn about it, and who have themselves chosen to participate in the group. Children who are not yet ready for this type of experience should be catered for in another more appropriate area of the church’s programme.
I have heard of well-meaning parents who have decided that their child should be at the group when the child does not want to be, and also of the situation where sympathetic children’s workers, not wanting to exclude anyone, have allowed in an unready child, and as a result the usefulness of the group has been wrecked.

Practising the Principles
Following some teaching that Steve Neale and I did on the subject of discipleship groups, Birgit Jahn of Anskar Church in Hamburg decided to put it into practice. Here is a translation of her description of what happened:
“For me the seminar was a push in the right direction – something which we often need in order to get new courage and strength to go forward in the Holy Spirit. The effects of the seminar were immediately evident two days later in the King’s Kids’ Club (my children’s housegroup) which surpassed all my expectations. I had planned to stick closely to Graeme’s concept of leaving room for the Holy Spirit to work, and I went into the one and a half hour session with the six- to nine-year-old children without any great preparation, at least not of the content of the lesson!
I explained to them that over the past two years we had learned, heard and read a great deal about Jesus and that the time had now come to take specific steps to get nearer to him.
“Do you want to?”
“Yes, of course we do.”
Then I explained about four areas in our lives in which we can expect the Holy Spirit to bring about changes – turning, trust, talking about Jesus, receiving from Him [Turn, Trust, Tell out, Take in]. Each child prayed quietly and then we asked the first child which area God had shown him.
Clausi said, “That I can talk more about Jesus.” We put him in the middle, the children laid hands on him and a few children prayed for him.
Marcel, a child from a non-church background and who had only been there four times said, “God has said that I should do the first thing that you said – turning.”
“Did God show you anything particular?”
“Yes, he said I shouldn’t go to judo again.” He went into the middle, hands were laid on him and we prayed for him.
Kuddel said, “I would like to have some of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, like the word of knowledge.” Into the middle with him, and hands-on-prayer.
Clausi said, “I have seen a picture – clear and bright, a person kneeling.” The interpretation followed immediately – God wants to say that he has heard your prayer.
The Holy Spirit was present and at work! Why should I have been so surprised? We had, after all, invited Him!
“I would like the gift of prophecy, with which I can serve others.”
“Prayer with laying of hands.”
“I have heard God saying, ‘You will soon receive a word from me.’”
“I would like to be able to trust God more.”
“I have got a picture for Rebecca. A big number 1 and something golden.”
And so it went on. Then I introduced the ‘Earlystart’. This is a discipleship course for children. I emphasized again that God wants to use each child but that He puts no one under pressure. And I told them of the picture which Steve (Graeme’s co-worker) had for me. God said, “The children from the housegroup will pass my word on to thousands, as missionaries, preachers, church leaders etc.”
Kuddel then said, “But I wanted to be a policeman.”
I said, “God can use policemen too.”
At the end we all agreed on one thing – this is how our meeting should always be. We will not be satisfied with anything less!”

14. Learning to Lead

For some time I had noticed children in various places whom the Holy Spirit seemed to be calling to give a lead to others. I had developed the habit of telling such children that the Holy Spirit is looking for boys and girls to lead others – not to be bossy, not necessarily to be able to stand up in front of people at meetings, but simply to be prepared to do things first that others could follow. The thought then came to me that we should be giving such children the opportunity to grow in experience of leading others of their own age or younger. So, ‘Learning to Lead’ weekends were born. They were designed for children usually aged 8-16 years, and for adults who wanted to learn how to grow in partnership with children who were leading.
From the first one, 11-year-old Heather summed things up in this way:
“I’ve learnt that God wants to use children, young and old, just as much as adults. Children can lead, and if they are given the chance they will lead.”

A keen bunch from Exeter went home after the second one to put into practice a vision for children’s prayer celebrations in that area – led by the children. From their full and varied housegroup programme they grew in serving Jesus together. They formed a team of children leaders to work alongside adults at an outreach camp for local children and set up a children’s band which was used in church, old people’s homes and at children’s prayer celebrations. And that’s not all that this group did. In a Sunday morning “Action Force”, they:-

• Went on praise marches.
• Prayed for other churches (by walking to them, laying hands on the building and praying for people inside, and their work for the kingdom of God).
• Prayed over the city (from nearby hills).
• Prayed for the university.
• Prayed over places of authority, e.g. police station, courts, civic centre.
• Marched round the church seven times and shouted.
• Put up posters on bollards in the city.
• Made leaflets and handed them out at the bus station / railway station / cathedral green.
• Made sandwiches and gave them out to the homeless.
• Put notes under car windscreen wipers such as “Jesus loves you”.
• Picked up litter.
• Washed cars belonging to church members.
• Took fruit round to residents in an area of the city that the church had been seeking to reach, as a response to a prophetic word for this area by an adult in the church.
• Sprinkled something sweet-smelling in an area they had been praying for, as a symbolic act in response to a prophetic word.
• Shouted and praised God on hills overlooking the city (as in Isaiah 42v11 and Isaiah 12v6).
• Raised a banner on a hill overlooking the city and shouted (as in Isaiah 13v2).

The third ‘Learning to Lead’ weekend had six of the original Earlystart group from five different congregations from two years before.

When I was speaking to the children’s team at a church in 1998 I asked the usual question, “How many of you, when you were children, were knowingly involved in using gifts of the Holy Spirit?”
Only two of them raised their hands. They were both 15-year-old lads whose experience of these things came from a ‘Learning to Lead’ weekend they had attended four years before.

Much of what we have done in ‘Learning to Lead’ weekends has been experimental – not knowing whether boundaries applied to what could be handled by boys and girls, but finding that whatever spiritual challenge was given to them, the youngsters seemed to keep taking it in their stride. There has been lots of room for growth in understanding and experience of Holy Spirit gifts and the Word of God. The children’s capacity for hard work – when the Holy Spirit is at work – means that a Saturday programme from 8am to 11.30pm can tire adults out, but leave youngsters with energy for midnight feasts!
An important ingredient of these times, along with the opportunity to practise leading, has been the including of constructive criticism to help children to take seriously the responsibility of seeking to give a lead to others. The supportive and non-judgemental atmosphere has meant that confidence has grown and preparation has been done in children and adult partners for further action in other settings.
A number of youngsters from ‘Learning to Lead’ weekends have become effective team members in the children’s ministry at Christian conferences. One of them, Philip, wrote this about his experience:
“It was really great to be in the team. I have been brought a lot closer to the Lord and I have a new love and faith in Him, not just to know that God is a powerful God, but to experience His power in my heart. My memory of it was: I was praying for a boy, not realising his situation. In the morning he shared what God had done in his life the night before. God had released him from the hurt that he had from his parents separating and his dad backsliding. God showed him how much He loved him. It was absolutely amazing to know that God gave me the right words to say. Praise the Lord!
I was praying for another boy on the last night. A few days before, during the time there, he had fallen off his bike. I kept looking at him and praying that the Lord would heal him. On that last night I started praying with him that God would help him as he went into the first year of high school. Without realising it, I laid my hands on his shoulders, and afterwards I asked him what was happening. He said that God had removed the pain from his shoulder and knee while I was praying, and also God released him in tongues. It was really good to see how God worked in different people and to see God take people deeper in him. It is a joy to see children like them on fire and enthusiastic for God and yearning to be used by Him. It was such a great joy to be used to minister to people my own age.”

15. Evangelism

To give children the opportunity for some practice in evangelism, ‘Fishing Weekends’ were devised. These consisted of getting about 12 people together – an equal mix (or near enough) of children and adults – to spend time over a weekend serving Jesus together.
The first one we did was in Woolwich, and illustrates the pattern and the kind of things we have experienced on these occasions. The team got together on Friday evening, and had a short introduction about how people get ‘caught’ for Jesus’ Kingdom, not by one activity, but by a number of activities that can be like the strands of a net. So we were going to throw a net in the area and see who we could catch with the love of Jesus.
We then went prayer-walking in pairs (an adult with each child). The idea was to go wherever we felt, and, instead of praying for the place, to see what we noticed about different places, things or people that we saw, to note what feelings came to us, and since we were thinking of doing some evangelism the next day, to consider where it might be good to do it.
This type of experience was very new to those taking part but was very fruitful.
When we came back and put together what we had received, we had identified one place on the estate where we should prophesy (which we did with banners and shouts), another place where we should worship (which we did with music, singing and dancing), another place where we should preach (which we did with songs, testimonies and short preaches), and another area to pray in. This area was a children’s playground in which no children were playing on the Friday evening. On our prayer walk, one child had said there was something “unfriendly by the swings.” Another said,
“The swing park was not okay.”
On the Saturday morning when we had prophesied, preached and worshipped, we went into the swing park and started praying.
I had noticed that in all the time we had been in the area, no children had been in the play park. As soon as we began to pray, a number of children appeared, came in and started playing on the swings!
Later that day, we had an evangelistic ‘Family Fun Evening’. Invitation leaflets had been produced which we had distributed on the estate in the morning, at which stage nothing of the programme had been planned. This meant that children and adults on the team had the challenge of putting together and running a programme for the event, and getting together all that was necessary to do it during Saturday afternoon.
The team led the Sunday family service and provided all the ingredients for it. This gave the opportunity for involving the children in all aspects of planning and preparing the practical and spiritual components of the service. In all this they were learning how to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and to share what they had received, including prophetic pictures and words for members of the congregation.
After the service we had a time together as a team to go over what had happened and to assess and learn from how the Holy Spirit had worked in it all.
Fishing Weekends like this are always exciting as it is never known at the beginning exactly what will be happening. Reliance on the Holy Spirit is put to the test, and the partnership of children and adults works well.

The ingredients of the Fishing Weekend were used by Popcorn Children’s Church in local missions in London where a team of children and adults went into an area with a programme designed to introduce children to ‘Popcorn’. They also worked similarly on missions elsewhere – helping others in church planting.Eleven-year-old Clare reported:
“We went up to Glasgow, and we did lots of praying for Glasgow. There were about five adults and fifteen children (people who were really going close to God and really wanting to change other children’s lives). For the first few days we were praying and doing prayer walking and basically just receiving words from God about Glasgow and about Scotland. Then on the Thursday and the Friday we did clubs in these areas. In the first area there was about thirty children coming just by invitations, and coming and seeing what was going on – and they really wanted to know. It was nice when we were visiting because their parents really wanted to know what was happening – not that they were curious because something wrong was going to happen – but they were really glad that we were running a club for the kids, because they wanted the kids to be involved in something.
“In the second area – it was quite a rough area really – there was lots of… what’s the word… fighting, basically – between the Protestants and the Catholics mainly. That was a really big thing that we had to pray for, and we had to get over the barrier of that. We had a hundred children coming from that end. In that area we all saw loads of angels – loads of angels there, and I mean more angels than we’ve ever seen – all of us were seeing at least twenty angels at a time. We were really glad that we were seeing angels in this area. We were getting kids close to God, really close to God. They were understanding when we were talking, and we were setting up a club that the people there were going to carry on.
We had lots of parents watching, which was good because there were lots of parents standing behind where the children were sitting and they were talking to the adults who were there and asking what was happening, and asking why we were doing this, and what type of things that we came for, and why we were there.
There were lots of children who were hurt in different ways and we really saw a lifting of those burdens off the children. We asked them if they wanted to be prayed for, if they wanted to find more of God and the Holy Spirit which we had been explaining about. More than half the children wanted to know about God (and they really wanted to know), and so us, as the children, we went round and we prayed for them. Basically what they wanted was just to be free. We asked them and they said they just wanted to be free, and that was quite good because we prayed for them and they had more freedom in their lives.”

Given the right setting children are well able to cope with taking the message of Jesus onto the streets. Much of the best in these times is when they are able to use their creativity – in their made-up dances, songs, raps and banners. We had some special ‘open airs’ in Canterbury in the annual family conference. Here is 11-year-old Jane’s description of one of these times:
“We went on an open air as part of the Canterbury Christian Family Conference. The night before we had prayed that some of us would receive gifts of prophecy, discernment and healing. Now we were going round in threes – a healer and a speaker for God with one adult. We went round as the open air was going on looking for people to talk to. We met a lady who had her whole home in plastic bags around her. Her budgies were sitting in a cage beside her. We talked to her and asked her if she had anything she would like us to pray about. She showed us a “little” wasp sting on her arm. Her whole arm was swollen and red. We laid hands on it and prayed, then she hurried away.
“We also talked to a little girl who was about six or seven. She had never heard of God or Jesus before. She was so open as we talked to her; though she questioned some of the things we said, she never made excuses or said we were being silly. As our adult was talking to someone else, it was just us two girls but still she accepted everything we said, and she was very interested. Her mum then came and took her away but I feel we did something for that girl.
Then we talked to a woman who was very religious but had some funny ideas about God. It was hard for us to talk to her as she was stubborn about what she thought, but when she went we prayed for her that she might see the truth.
We next found a man who would only talk to our adult, Karen. The other girl and I prayed in a corner and she came up with a word and I had a picture. When we shared them we found I had a picture of someone standing at the deep end of the swimming pool not sure if they should dive in, and then at last diving in and coming up safely. The other girl had one word – “Trust”. We told Karen to tell him we thought he should trust God and dive in and God’s Spirit would help him to swim. She told him and he thanked us again and again then left. Karen told us that he had been on the edge of ‘diving in’, but he had done that before and bad things had happened to him so he felt God had let him down and he had sunk. Karen said those words God gave us would help him a lot.”

16. Partnerships

Throughout ‘Spying Out the Land’, you may have noticed the partnership of children and adults in the stories.
In the Bible, wherever God was using children in special ways there was always an adult in partnership with them:
1 Samuel 3 – Eli recognised God at work and showed Samuel how to respond.
2 Kings 5 – Elisha linked his ministry to the little girl who told Naaman of him.
1 Kings 17 – The men recognised David and told King Saul.
Luke 2 – The teachers of the law discussed with Jesus.
John 6 – Andrew brought the boy with the packed lunch to Jesus.
Matthew 21 – Adults had been worshipping and praising Jesus, then children on their own did the same.
(You can see more about this in my Children’s Ministry Manual – page 8 “Partnering Children in Ministry)

11-year-old Clare described some of the partnerships she experienced:

Partnership with older sister, Jane (17):
“Jane is always there, like sisters and brothers are, and especially when the Holy Spirit is coming – she knows that it’s coming, and she knows when it’s there and she can pick out what’s there and explain what’s there to me if I don’t understand, or to other people if the Holy Spirit is doing things through me. A lot of the time it was where Dad was going away and Jane was going with him and I was going, not tagging along, but going just to see what was happening – and that was good because I could speak to Jane and I could talk through Jane to the other people there, like the Spirit was working through me and Jane, like going through both of us.”

Partnership with dad:
“Basically a lot of the time he gets asked to go away and to bring some of his family or all of his family. We go away with him, and every time, even if it’s like he does the same things each time, it’s still new – even to me though I’ve been there every time, seen it every time, seen it again and again, it’s still new to me, like basically just understanding what’s happening through me, and being able to explain that so that the children can understand it, and getting me to be getting prophecies for other children and to be getting pictures and words that other children and other adults need.”

Partnership with Ewen, who co-ordinated the children’s work in the congregation:
“First of all there was a club that we started in our church for unchurched people – after school on a Tuesday. He really partnered me with that and I was like part of what they were doing for these other children, not receiving what they were doing for the children, if you see what I mean. I was with him working so that the children could understand God. This is like a year or two ago, and things are still happening with us and there are still things that are working. And last week from Monday to Thursday, I was with him and some children who come with us to the Saturday club sometimes [Popcorn Children’s Church] and just having a week with God, basically so that the children could understand what God is about, and so that me and my friends, being children who know God, could relate more to the children, because we are children – and so we are friends with them, and we are getting them to know God through us and through the adults. Ewen really helps us to understand more about how we need to react to other children – not that we react violently – but reacting to the questions that they ask, and the things that they are saying – like when they are saying things that really aren’t what we want happening, not to react as in, “You shouldn’t be doing that,” but to react as in, “Why are you doing that?”, like asking them what is the reason for doing this, so that they can understand why we are doing our thing, and how they can become part of the church family.”

Partnership with Stephanie, who was in leadership in the congregation:
“Stephanie really helps us on a one to one basis, telling her what’s happening, or how I think things are going wrong, or how I think they are going really right, and she has got quite a bit of authority in the church so she can change it or make sure that the leaders know that what the children are doing is really good, like what the children’s leaders are doing is really good towards the children, and that the children are understanding, because sometimes adults don’t pick up on that so much, that the children are really enjoying it, because sometimes you can’t tell!
“And she really helps me and people to have more confidence in ourselves so that we have more confidence to go out and do things – do them without thinking first, what would be the consequences if this went wrong – just going out and doing it with real strength and lots of the Holy Spirit.”

Partnership with Sue, who was involved in children’s ministry in Popcorn Children’s Church and in the congregation:
“Basically, Sue carries a lot of what happens that goes wrong. She carries a lot and that’s a real help to me, because when I’m there and there is something that I really, really want to take on, but she knows when I can’t, and sometimes I don’t know that I can’t and so she just carries it basically. She helps us to really understand more about God. She is a person who teaches me more about God and explains more to me, and that we are working together to do things – that it’s not her leading everything. She gives me as much freedom as I need for what I need to do. She says like, and this is not a complete quote, but, “You’re a child, and you’ve got to say first before I say,” and so I’ve got the right to say first what I think before she comes in with what she wants to say.”

17. Preaching

The thought of preaching first came to nine-year-old Sarah during an ‘In the River’ time at Popcorn Children’s Church. (‘In the River’ was a time when the children were encouraged to relax quietly in God’s presence. Usually some suitable music was played quietly, and afterwards children were given the opportunity to share what they had felt God say or do during that time.)
At another such time Sarah had a picture of herself as a child on a stage preaching to adults.
Sarah mentioned that she would like to preach at church, so when Ewen (children’s work co-ordinator) heard this, he took action. On a Sunday when he was booked as the preacher, he gave the place to Sarah instead. To prepare, Ewen met with Sarah with the Bible passage that was allocated for the day. Sarah chose the part of the passage she wanted to preach on, then they looked over it and prayed. As they talked about it together, Ewen wrote some notes on what Sarah was saying, and then gave her those notes to look at. Sarah decided most of what she wanted to say, and then Ewen wrote out what she was saying and left it with her.
Sarah then wrote her own notes, and at Ewen’s suggestion, thought about pictures to illustrate the points, and real life examples. At the Sunday family service, with adults and children there, Sarah preached while Ewen held up the visual aids at the appropriate times. Afterwards they together prayed for people who responded in relation to what she had just said.

She had another opportunity to preach with Ewen’s help, and then with Sue’s help she preached at Popcorn Children’s Church to about 150 children, and when she was ten, at Target Children’s Church summer camp to about 50 children.

There are many potential child preachers in our churches. A friend told me that a church I know was considering whether to arrange a visit of a young boy from Africa who was being greatly used in leading people to Jesus by his preaching. My thought at the time was that if they wanted to experience children in this sort of ministry, they ought to give opportunities for their own children to preach!
So I was delighted some time later to meet twelve-year-old Samuel from that fellowship. His father had been invited to do some teaching ministry at a Bible school in Asia, for people who were preparing to take the Good News of Jesus to a closed country in that area. He felt God calling him to go too, and his dad agreed to take him.
Samuel sent a postcard to me while he was away which said:
“We had a good time there, and the brother there asked me to teach in the Sunday school, so I had to spend time getting prepared. I taught on ‘Following His steps with Authority’. The pastor was encouraged by the message and he asked me to preach at the housegroup on Tuesday. I only got it prepared a few hours before but it went well. They also asked me to teach at the Bible school on Friday. I taught on servanthood.”
I think that his dad was allowed to speak too!

Living in the Land

18. Touching Heaven

In addition to the stories already told in ‘Spying out the Land’, there have been a number of occasions in the past 12 years that have been times of touching heaven in ways that I can’t forget.
On a weekend away it was the time for ‘taking in the Holy Spirit’. We divided the children into two groups and I took the group who already had some experience of the Holy Spirit and wanted to move on further. With the children standing in a circle, I got them to each place a hand on the person next to them and to pray that they would experience more of the Holy Spirit.
One young boy, looking upwards across the group said to me, “I can see Him.”
I looked in the direction he was pointing, but I saw nothing. Standing alongside him I quietly asked, “What is He doing?”
The boy replied, “He is coming down and coming into all of us NOW!”
As soon as he said that, children all over the group began to speak out about pictures or words or feelings that they were receiving.

On one occasion at Canterbury Christian Family Conference, we had been talking about some gifts of the Spirit and I had felt that the Holy Spirit wanted to give some boys and girls gifts of discernment (knowing what’s happening in the spirit), and gifts of prophecy (speaking out what God is saying).
Having asked who felt that the Holy Spirit had been speaking to them about receiving a gift of discernment, we laid hands on about twelve children and prayed for them.
Then I felt it right to identify those who should be prayed for to receive a gift of prophecy in the following way.
I asked those who had just been prayed for about knowing what the Holy Spirit is doing to walk up and down the aisles of the marquee in pairs, and see who the Holy Spirit pointed out to them. There were about 120 children present. I said that if either of them felt the Holy Spirit indicate someone, they should see if the other agreed, tell the boy or girl, and then if that child wanted to, he or she could come out to the front.
It was amazing to see the ‘discerners’ get to work. They were in agreement, and the children they pointed out were in agreement too!
An adult who had come to visit the children’s tent during this time prayed for the children who had come forward, and had a particular prophetic word for each of them.

At Jesus Adventure Camp one year there was a ten-year-old girl, Flora, who during a time of prayer came and said with excitement, “Jesus! He came to me! He came to me!”
The following year, she and Belle, who had also been experiencing the Holy Spirit at work with her the previous year, agreed to pray for other children in our time of prayer for those who wanted to take in the Holy Spirit.
About 40 children and adults were in a room together, and Flora and Belle began to pray for children who came up one by one. I stood at the side and helped a little in what they were doing.
They prayed for the first 11-year-old boy who then went and sat down. The next day he said, “I felt something really amazing last night. I felt that in my body there was something rushed in there and I couldn’t breathe. I was speechless and I was breathing heavily and I started to cry – it was just an amazing feeling.”
The next girl described her experience in this way, “I had a really special experience of God yesterday. When people prayed for me I felt really light – and then I became heavy and started swaying, and just then I can’t remember anything.”
This girl seemed to be ‘out in the Spirit’ on her feet for about ten minutes.
Then the Holy Spirit was affecting Belle. “I was praying for people and started crying because I was so happy, then suddenly I sort of froze and I closed my eyes – then Graeme started praying for me and I couldn’t stand up any longer – and when I was down on the ground I could hear people praying for me and crying all around me but I just couldn’t get up – and I felt really peaceful and calm and happy – and suddenly I just sort of got up and opened my eyes.”
As we continued in this time of prayer ministry, children and adults around the room began to weep. I didn’t know what was happening at the time! I knew that the Holy Spirit was doing something special, but it was only afterwards when I heard the children’s description that I realised the overwhelming happiness that they had been experiencing.
• “Last night I had a really, really brilliant experience. I’m so happy. I just felt the whole world needed to be better. I’m just so happy and I started crying because I’m so happy. It was a wonderful feeling. It’s just brilliant.”
• “When they started praying for the second person, I just had this feeling in my stomach that I was so happy and that I wanted to cry for happiness – and I just started crying, and I was crying for ages – for three hours. And I just felt that’s what the world should have been like all the time; there should be no more wars or anything. Everybody was being so nice and I was just so happy and started crying for ages.”
• “Last night I was being prayed for by a few people. I had a really warm feeling inside me – and then I sat down on a chair and I just went off to this wonderful world, and when I woke up I was crying with happiness because of the Holy Spirit.”
• “Last night I had an amazing experience. I was standing up and I started sort of swaying and feeling really warm – and my knees just buckled and I fell – and then I was lying there and I could feel this warmth growing up inside me – and then it came into my mouth and I started praying in tongues and it was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had.”
• “I feel full to bursting with the Holy Spirit”
One child commented immediately after the special time, “And to think that that started off as just an ordinary meeting!”

At Canterbury, we had experimental Holy Spirit workshops. Usually the children would choose which group they wanted to be in for the first part of the evening, then in the second part, one of the groups would share with the others what they had worked on.
On one occasion when we were doing a prophetic workshop, I picked out a number of boys and girls on whom I had seen some anointing of the Holy Spirit at times in previous years and during that week. I suggested that they form a group for the prophetic workshop that evening and consider three questions:-
What is Jesus going to be doing?
What does He want us to know about it?
What does He want us to do about it?
They went outside with an adult team member for their group time, after which they were expected to return and lead the second part of the programme, but when the time came they hadn’t returned. We improvised with an instant prayer programme, children lining up to pray in turn at a microphone in the middle of the tent. Afterwards, just as our programme ended, and the other children were leaving, the prophetic group arrived back in a great state of excitement. In the group time, when they had prayed, they’d had an amazing flow of pictures and words.
I asked them to sit down, and with paper and pen in hand, I asked them to tell us about what they had received. They were very excited and very self-controlled, so that as one talked, another would raise a hand to contribute something else that related. It took fully half an hour to describe what they had received. There was so much coming so fast that it was difficult to make a note of it all. Having made notes, it was clear that what they had experienced went far beyond what could be communicated in words. Here is what I condensed from their accounts. It is accurate as far as it goes but it is a pale reflection of all they received.
There were many pictures about darkness being overcome by light:
• a torch which was shining faintly, then was whacked and lit up brightly.
• a black / black / white pattern which became completely white.
• night-time with thunder and lightning lighting the sky.
• a Holy Spirit blowtorch being dropped on the ground resulting in a massive fire.
• darkness with flashes, then angels coming one by one and then in teams.

Here are some of the thoughts that came to the children during this time:
• We are involved in moving evil, but the idea is to get rid of it.
• There are mountains which are not just meant to be moved, they are meant to be shattered.
• These mountains are idols – idols of deep-rooted religion and also of the passing crazes and fads that catch people’s attention.
• Once we have stopped worshipping other gods, heaven will come.
• Satan is still getting in the way until the idols are moved.
• If the whole group worked together, then Satan would run away.
• Jesus is going to come down to fill us so that we can have the power to make it ready for when He comes for good.
• God will give us the power to help the revival put the darkness out, and power to heal from the inside out.
• It is up to us to go with the power to shatter the idols. We’ve got the faith, but there’s a deadline, a time limit. We’ve got to “wheel on” and go.

There was a picture of churches getting together which in size looked like a pinhead, while those who were worshipping other things were an enormous group. There was a wondering about this, then a bright spark of faith, and “we suddenly made it” – the pinhead grew bigger than the other group.
There was a picture of a graveyard with people who had died and were “anointed to Jesus.” There was a rising up, then Satan trying to grasp them, but nothing was able to stop them. They “zoomed up to bright stairs and the gates.”
The ten youngsters seemed to already be fulfilling one of the pictures – that of groups of children coming to Jesus and being sent out preaching.
When they had offloaded what they had received, they started discussing what they should do with it all, but as it was getting late, I suggested that they could continue the next day. They immediately worked out between themselves when the most appropriate time would be for their get-together, and I remember talking to the adult team members once the children had gone about whether we were expected, wanted or necessary at that meeting! The children were taking responsibility themselves and that was a fulfilment of one of my prime aims in ministry with children which I would express in this way: I want to help children to have enough experience of the Holy Spirit’s ministry and gifts so that at any time in the future when the Holy Spirit wants to take the initiative with them, they will know what is happening and they will know how to respond.

I was once taking a family service in Sittingbourne, and afterwards someone pointed out an eight-year-old in the playground nearby. He was the leader of a gang who were throwing stones at the building and doing what they could to disrupt what was going on. I remember thinking to myself, “Okay Graeme Young, you are the children’s worker, you teach others what to do with children, what are you going to do with this one?”
I think that “Pray him away” was the first thing that came to mind, but knowing that to be an unsuitable response (!), I thought, “I don’t know”, but I asked the Holy Spirit to show me. I went up to the boy, and since he didn’t run away I said, “I’ve got something to say to you from God.” As he still didn’t run away, I said, “God thinks you are special.” He looked at me, so I continued, “God wants to use boys and girls in special ways these days. If God today was round about here, looking for boys and girls He could use, and He chose you, what sort of thing would you like God to use you to do?”
He thought for a few seconds then replied, “Buy something nice for my mum.”
“Why?” I asked, “Hasn’t she got very much, then?”
“No”, he said. I nearly wept, and others have been similarly affected when I have told them this story.
When asked a question to which he could have given any sort of selfish reply, the only thing on this young tearaway’s mind was that his mum should be blessed. He was a child whose behaviour had indicated that he was far from the kingdom, but in fact his heart was very close.

19. Crossing Over

When I was in Romania teaching about children’s ministry, and seeing children there gaining experience in spying out the land for themselves, I mentioned Jean Darnall’s vision. Since the vision is mainly about Britain, I had wondered if I was taking the prophecy too far to be using it in Romania. But in her account she spoke of a “worldwide unusual awakening amongst boys and girls very soon that will produce for the world mighty Christian leaders”, so I thought it was right to share it.
Thirteen-year-old Gabi mentioned that the reason she had a vision for working with children was because Jesus had appeared to her in her room a year before.
A pastor’s wife came up to me and asked in which year Jean Darnall had said these things. I told her it was in 1987, and she then described to me something that had happened during that year in the Pentecostal church which she and her husband at that time attended. One Sunday, when the adults were meeting upstairs, the children of the church, who were meeting downstairs, “had Pentecost”. There was a lot of noise and the children were prophesying very accurately about things in the church. As she put it, “The elders then went downstairs with their fire extinguishers and put it out.” (She and her husband then left that church to lead a fellowship which is looking for all that God will do with children and young people.)

When Jean Darnall was speaking in North-east Scotland in 1996, she said, “the Lord revealed last night that the main reason we haven’t already heard more of the prophetic voice rising up in the proclaimers amongst your sons and daughters is because there is an angry harsh voice that is relentless and vicious in its unforgiveness and unwillingness to accept the fact that people are frail and make mistakes, and to allow those that have made their mistakes to rise up and be what God wants them to be. There needs to be a kind voice. Nourish the fires that God lights. Don’t put them out. Amen?”

Fourteen-year-old Chris was asked these questions after a Learning to Lead weekend:
What has Jesus shown you this weekend?
What can you do with what He has shown you?
This is his answer: “Jesus has shown me that I have a gift for leading and I would love to be able to become a missionary and evangelist. Unfortunately my church has nothing for me to do while I am still young and so I don’t have the chance to use my gift.” (note in 2012 – Fortunately he did not give up and I heard that he is now actively involved in his church’s ministry.)
It is not a new thing in the history of God’s people for reports of spying out the land to be unpopular and rejected by some, but meanwhile others are enjoying the blessings of the good fruit of that land. Here is an account I came across of a conference in England in 1989. Although it is the one account in this book that I have no personal links with, I include it to show that the Holy Spirit is doing similar things in very different parts of the church, and also because it is so good!

“The focus of the conference was very much on renewing the Church and Evangelisation, through the power of the Holy Spirit. We hoped to pass this on to the children in their own way too and showing them that through coming into their own special relationship with our Father in heaven, they too would be able to evangelize their contemporaries. This was our hope, our vision, but as to whether it would happen was up to God.
The children were split up into different age groups with their own appropriate programmes. It was on that first morning, in the 9-11 year olds’ group; whilst Bob Faricy was praying for an outpouring of the gifts of the Spirit in the main tent, that things began to happen. They were being given a talk about the Holy Spirit when theory gave way to practice and most of the children were ‘baptised in the Spirit’ manifesting itself in speaking in tongues. The sound of sixty plus children praising God in ‘tongues’ was both awesome and beautiful.
Meanwhile in the 5-8 year olds’ tent the supposedly ten minutes prayer time had lasted forty five minutes. As anyone who has worked with children knows – that had to have been a work of God. Several of this group were also released in the power of the Holy Spirit.
As the week progressed we had many different activities: prayer and praise, a bouncing castle, puppet, arts and crafts activities (including spinning and making their own puppets), face painting, stories, teaching and videos. The 9-11 group also had a moving reconciliation service. There was also great fun at the sports afternoon including a waterfight! God was as much at work in the times of fun as in the prayer times.
The children shared with the helpers their fun and their pains. We saw God minister His gentle healing power to them. There were times too of sharing with their parents and guardians. So often we heard of the evil and havoc wrought upon families by Satan, and the need to pray for families was a call which required an urgent response.
By the close of the week we had witnessed the wonders of God working by His Holy Spirit in these children. They had begun to prophesy, to see pictures (which were verbalised or interpreted in art work). They began to pray for miracles and for healing and they prayed with some of the children’s ministry leaders. The children had very little difficulty in being naturally supernatural. True enough one or two thought tongues sounded funny to begin with,yet they allowed this gift to grow in them. In the case of praying for healing, one of the seven year olds and a nine-year-old, prayed with a girl of six with stomach ache. It was a simple prayer to their Father and once over, they carried on with their other activities, confident in God’s power. (The six-year-old had no further pains that day.)
The idea of children speaking in tongues delights most people. The use of the other gifts challenges. It led some of us on the team to repent that we were not prepared to really become like little children (Mark 10v15).
The prophecy of Joel as quoted by St. Peter on the day of Pentecost also took on a new reality: “God says: I will pour out my Spirit on everyone. Your sons and daughters will proclaim my message; your young men will see visions, and your old men will have dreams. Yes even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will proclaim my message… And then, whoever calls out to the Lord for help, will be saved” (Acts 2v17-18,21).”

Doesn’t that account make you excited? It does me. And you will want to know where such things happened. It was at the New Dawn Conference (Roman Catholic) at Walsingham. Anne de Normanville wrote about it in the GOODNEWS newsletter, published by the National Service Committee.

Many unexpected things will be happening in times to come. ‘Spying out the Land’ just gives some glimpses of what life will be like.
I once asked Clare (11) and Sarah (9) the following questions.

When revival comes, what sort of things do you think children will be doing?
Clare: “I think that it won’t be most importantly the children changing the lives of adults that they don’t know – but more of the children changing other children’s lives. So, young Christians changing children who are non-Christians so that they can understand about God, on a one to one basis, knowing about each other and then knowing about God together.”

Sarah: “Well, I think that when revival comes, children will be very much a part of it, and that they will be leading their parents into church, and leading their parents into revival and leading other adults into revival.”

What do you think adults in the church need to do to be ready for what children will be doing in revival?
Clare: “I think that they need to be prepared to carry a lot, prepared to let children go forwards. When the children bring non-Christians into being Christians, then the adults have got to take on those children and start sending them out to find other non-Christians and make them become Christians. When the Christians come back to the adults with people who have just changed, then the adults should be saying, “Right, I’m going to send you over there, and you’re going to go and change these people’s lives.” So the adults need to be ready for the children to be bringing more and more children into church life.”

Sarah: “I think that adults should really set a place – set a strong place to stand on, to stop whirring around not knowing what to do, but just firmly stay in a place and get more people coming in, and make a firm idea of what they’re going to do. So, instead of thinking, we could do this, or we could do this, I think they really need to bring themselves together and decide, this is what we need to do. Then if that works out, maybe after that we could do that, but we need to concentrate on one thing at a time.”

At the time of writing (1999), we have had 12 years of preparation for going into revival, with these experiences of spying out the land to help us to get ready. I don’t know how much longer we will have to wait, but I am conscious that with the time we have had, a lot more could have been done than has been done. The Israelites, after a generation of waiting were only given three days notice of crossing over (Joshua 1v11). I hope we’ll be ready!

I finish with some words I said and a song I wrote, for the first ‘Family Worship’ CD, ‘Let Praise Break Out!’ (© rising generation music).

A long time ago, God led His people to a river, and on the other side of that river was a new land for them to go into and live in, to show the kingdom of heaven to the world.
Amazingly, they refused to go, and one of their excuses was that it would be too dangerous for their children. Then God told them this,
“You said that your children would be captured, but I will bring them into the land which you rejected, and it will be their home [Numbers 14v31].”
Today there is a land of revival ahead of us. You boys and girls have a special place in all that the Holy Spirit is going to be doing. But there’s no need for us older ones to be left behind. We can be like Joshua and Caleb and go in with the younger generation and help them to take the land – a land for Jesus!

We are not going back where we came from,
We are not going to stay where we are,
We have come a long way already,
Now the new land is not far.

We are not going to give way to Satan,
We are not going to listen to lies,
He may think that the land is his land,
But he’ll get a big surprise.

We are not going to doubt Jesus’ power,
We are not going to turn back in fear,
The commander of heaven’s armies
Is standing with us here.

We are not going to visit then come back,
We are not going to miss out – no way!
We have heard of a land of revival,
So we’re on the move today.

Crossing over – leave behind the desert sand.
Crossing over – into the life that God has planned,
Crossing over – Jesus takes us by the hand,
Crossing over into a NEW LAND.

The Context of the Experiences described in “Spying out the Land”

In the first six years of the time covered in this book, I worked with Ichthus Christian Fellowship. Ichthus had three area churches in south-east London at that time. In ‘Ichthus East’, an area church of 12 congregations, I led the children’s ministry, and with a team from the three area churches, I had responsibility for developing the children’s work throughout the Fellowship. (In 1992 about 2000 people were in Ichthus congregations of whom about 500 were children)
Roger Mitchell led Ichthus East, and had overall responsibility for youth and children in Ichthus Christian Fellowship. He gave me the room and the support to develop this ministry.
Steve Neale partnered me as we ventured into the unknown, and he then established ‘Popcorn Children’s Church’ in London before moving to France to continue his ministry.
Excellent administrators, Helen and Achanda, ensured that things we talked about actually happened, and the congregations’ children’s leaders made team work an enjoyable task for me. We were supported by Val and other intercessors who would pray for us and with us when we met for children’s leaders’ meetings.
For each of the holiday conferences mentioned in this book, I have had the partnership of teams of adults and teenagers who have been prepared to go further in the Holy Spirit with the children than they had ever been before, and without them I wouldn’t have had much of a story to tell.
I have been blessed by many churches and groups of various denominations in the UK and several other countries giving me the privilege of sharing with them in ministry relating to children.
‘Childprayer’ (a prayer ministry which involved intercessors and children’s workers praying together) was, since 1992, an often invisible but always invaluable support to my ministry and that of others with a similar vision. Chris Perkins who led Childprayer, and David and Rosemary Shaw, who had also been around since the beginning of that group, kept me looking forward. They are the ones who first suggested that a book like this should be written.

Graeme C. Young 1999.

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