Encourage the Children – Fruit of My Ministry –
Yesterday, I had a tremendously gratifying experience. Brian Ellison preached at my church. When Brian was 16 or 17, he was active in a youth ministry that my wife and I served as advisors. He told me that he started attending the youth ministry because he was following a girl that he liked, Maria Woodruff. Brian is now both a lawyer and pastor of the New Covenant Baptist Church. He mentioned in church that when he attended the youth ministry meetings on Sunday evenings, he was struck with the fact that I was so young, around 28 years old, and that my wife was a lawyer.
Brian told me yesterday that as a youth he joined the Mayflower United Church of Christ in Detroit, where Henry Simmons was the pastor. He said that Rev. Simmons spoke with him about the ministry and encouraged Brian to read the scripture and lead worship. By the time Brian was 19, Rev. Simmons had moved on to pastor a church in St. Albans, New York and young Brian was ordained as a Baptist minister.
Listening to Brian share his pathway to the pulpit, I felt fulfilled because youth ministry was what drew me into the ministry. I have always believed that if we reach children when they are still impressionable, it can shape them in ways that are far greater than we can imagine. Brian Ellison is the first person I am aware of who came through one of my many youth ministries who went into the ministry. During the “Meet and greet” portion of the worship service I asked the youth who were serving as worship leaders to take a photo with Brian. As I looked at the young people who surrounded him in the chancel area, I thought to myself, “The circle of life repeats itself.” Who knows, perhaps one of these young persons will go into the ministry, but even if they do not, they will always remember when they were welcomed in the chancel of their church as worship leaders.
Mark 9: 36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” 
Questions for Reflection:
- In your youth, which adults made the greatest impression on you?
- What are you doing in your life to make a positive impression upon children?
- What have you learned from the way Jesus dealt with children?
Prayer: Lord, help me to be a blessing to children. Teach me to live my life in a manner that children will find meaningful. Impress upon me to be an encourager and not a discourager of children. Lord, I want to live so, God can use me, anytime and anywhere. Use me Lord as a tool to lead others to you. Use my mouth that I might witness with words. Use my hands, that I may witness through my actions. Use my heart, that I might witness in love. Through Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.
Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mk 9:36–37). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.