At just 12 years old, Ivens Ferreira has developed a missionary spirit and already gives Bible studies to his friends in the city of Remanso in Bahia, Brazil.
“My family encouraged me and was instrumental in my interest in speaking about Jesus,” he said. “I always saw my father giving Bible studies, and I also wanted to participate with him.” Eventually, Ferreira invited a friend to study the Bible with him. “We are still studying to this day,” he said.
From games to Bible study, the Evangelism Kids project is a training and motivation program that prepares children like Ferreira for evangelistic involvement. Through working on the kids’ natural gifts and getting them involved in missionary endeavors, the initiative recently brought 455 children of different ages together in the cities of Juazeiro and Capim Grosso, in northern Bahia. The purpose of the recent gathering was to show that being a missionary is not limited to age and that these children have much to offer for the growth of the church, organizers said.
“The Evangelism Kids project meets a need that children already had. They already like to preach, they already like to pray, they like to praise, they already like to participate in all evangelism,” Eliane Lopes, director of children’s and adolescent ministries for the East Brazil Union Mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, said. “The goal of the project is to make disciples of children interested in having an active role in mission, leading them with the support and follow-up of parents throughout the process.”
For Roberto Muricy, father of one of the young participants, this is a wonderful method. “It is a way of getting families united and involved in mission,” he said.
Disciples in New Generations
Muricy shared his experience as an active member of the local church and the impact this initiative had on his personal life. “We understand that as missionaries, we need to make disciples of the new generations. And I understand, as a father, that I need to train my son so that he can reach other people as well. For my son to be a missionary, I also need to be a missionary and to teach others,” he said.
Participation of children in evangelism has grown in recent years. Presently, there are 324 child preachers in the region, leaders said.
“Children are very talented,” Muricy said. “With their simple and straightforward manner, they preach with an earnest heart. They invite their classmates and speak of Jesus in the most practical way possible. We can learn a lot from children; they are also an essential element in the preaching of the gospel.”