Parents and children's ministers often are eager to introduce children to the deeper things of God. Kids will benefit most if they first are given time to become grounded in the gospel.

Children who are hungry for God's presence may seek signs and wonders, but they must first trust Jesus Christ for salvation before entering into genuine worship and spiritual gifts. Lenny LaGuardia, director of Passing It On Ministries at Mike Bickle's International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri, says some churches get caught up in the hype of manifestations. "We've talked way more about the Holy Spirit and never introduced our children to Jesus," he says.

The same oversight applies to teaching children good behavior without pointing out their need for the Savior. It's like lowering the standard and giving them a law they can't keep, writes author-pastor-counselor Tedd Tripp. In his book, Shepherding a Child's Heart (Shepherd Press), Tripp instructs parents on how to raise children with an emphasis on spiritual redemption, not just good behavior.

"The central focus of child-rearing is to bring children to a sober assessment of themselves as sinners," he writes. "Dependence on their own resources moves them away...from any self-assessment that would force them to conclude that they desperately need Jesus' forgiveness and power."

Salvation is definitely the foundation for all other faith experiences, but as some ministers point out, children who have faced difficult life experiences may first have to work through issues of trust before they can begin to believe in a good God.

"When you trust, you surrender," says LaGuardia, "and then bang...the Holy Spirit moves!" His tape series, Equipping the Smaller Saints, is a popular resource that identifies roadblocks that prevent children from developing their spiritual potential.

Missionary Jeanene Thicke, founder of Children's Vision International, parents more than 90 castaway children at her orphanages in Bogotá, Colombia. Many of her children were malnourished, abused and abandoned in sewers before she and her staff rescued them. Some even witnessed the murder of their parents on the streets.

In the early 1990s, before she built the orphanages, up to 1,000 kids at a time would attend Thicke's all-night prayer meetings. They were desperate for an experience with God. "We would literally pray for every child," she says. "It would take hours!"

Supernatural healings, such as the one that occurred when a boy "fell under the power of God" for more than an hour, were common, she says. The next day the boy's doctor pronounced him unexplainably free from cancer. Other kids were delivered from drug addiction, suicide and more.

Today Thicke is able to establish trust in practical ways, also, by meeting the children's physical and emotional needs on a daily basis at the orphanages. This trust carries over into their ultimate reliance on God.

"Once they trust us, their world changes," Thicke says. "We are the real gospel to them and the very image of God."

When trust in their caretakers leads to trust in God, the children have the grounding they need to move into deeper spiritual experiences. Camila, age 5, is a good example. She says she wants to take care of sheep when she grows up so God will speak to her. "One thing I wish for is that God would put His hand on my heart and touch it so I would feel it," she says.

Anahid Schweikert is a frequent contributor to Charisma. She lives in Memphis, Tenn., with her husband and their two daughters, who were adopted from China.

Best Magazine Deal. Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Charisma, SpiritLed Woman and Ministry Today, all for $24. YES - I want this deal!

3 Reasons Why you should read Life in the Spirit. 1) Get to know the Holy Spirit. 2) Learn to enter God's presence 3) Hear God's voice clearly! Click Here to draw closer to God!

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Donald Trump certainly needs your prayers.

    Why You Must Pray for Donald Trump

    Here are eight ways I plan to intercede for President Trump regularly.

  • Pastor Jim Garlow in a file photo shown praying.

    Conservative Christian Leaders Gather in DC, Calling Trump's Election an Answer to Prayer

    "Although the news media is predicting protests, what I'm seeing is that everyone is abuzz ...

  • Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    I have been puzzled about the subject of inner healing for some time.

  • Here's a prophetic word for Washington, D.C.

    Prophecy: The Lord Is Raising Up Daniels in DC

    I believe we're on the precipice of a Third Great Awakening the Lord spoke to my heart about in ...

  • 2017 is the year that swords will clash.

    Prophetic Word: 2017 Will Bring a Clashing of Heaven and Hell

    "This is a time to cross over and not pull back."

  • Bishop Eddie Long died at 63.

    Bishop Eddie Long Dead at 63

    "Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate ...

  • Roadblock

    6 Roadblocks That Will Stop Your Spiritual Growth

    God wants you to grow in your faith, but many of us get stuck along the way.

  • The devil will try to silence you in any way he can. Don't give him the satisfaction.

    Satan's 2 Most Potent Lies to Render You Ineffective

    There's something in you so powerful that Satan doesn't want it out. Kyle Winkler reveals ...

  • Watch for these danger signals for choosing poorly.

    4 Signs You're Making a Bad Decision

    Avoid distraction and disappointment by testing your choices with these 4 principles.

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit