27 seconds remained on the countdown clock. I frantically searched for our narrator, for our big mascot (that Alex was inside of trying not to have a heat stroke!), the kids who would play a key part in walking all of the kids through a journey of meeting the Holy Spirit. Suddenly I heard the crowd erupt “EIGHT, SEVEN, SIX”… everyone gathered at the base of the stage and our narrator, Laura, ran onto to the stage to kick off the night. The place was not full. There were several groups of kids, but based on the response from pastors beforehand we were expecting about 300 – 400 kids. At the start, there were probably about that many.
The event kicked off with the introduction of Fiel (translation: Faithful), a big dog that was going to tell the kids about a very special friend. The kids chanted “Fiel, Fiel” as he came on stage and I was thrilled at their response to his character. Fiel’s introduction was followed by a game to get the kids moving and ready to worship. Then came worship. This was one of those things that the day before was falling apart. This was the team from our church and I was very nervous it was going to be a mess because in normal Sunday services we do not have space for a live band so we use tracks. This was the first time they would be playing these songs and our singers, Juan Pablo and Marcela, were not even part of our children’s church team so they weren’t super familiar with the songs we use. However, they are AMAZING! They got on stage and started the music. The kids were jumping, singing, cheering when they’d start a new song. The energy and atmosphere in that place was electric and more and more kids were arriving.
Juan Pablo and Marcela get the crowd singing and dancing.
Members of our children’s church team dancing and singing.
View from behind the stage of the growing crowd.
As the music went on, some of the pastors and leaders came to me worried – there were no more chairs, the kids couldn’t see because many parents had come and filled the seats. We had to take a brief moment during the worship to ask the parents to go to a standing room area on the side of the stage and leave the chairs for the kids. It still filled up. We had the chairs almost completely full, kids sitting on the floor and parents standing along the side of the main area. We know for certain over 600 kids were there – those were the one accounted for by children’s pastors and leaders that had come on a bus or in a big group. That did not include hundreds who came with parents or apart from a church. One tally tells us that there were over 1300 people – 1100 kids and 200 adults – in attendance. I’m not sure what the official number is. All I know is the place was jam-packed and the kids were having a blast!
A conga line running through the crowd – a little crazy, but so fun!
The worship set I had been so worried about was just incredible! The kids sang, clapped, danced and booed when it ended. They wouldn’t be disappointed for long, though, because after another little lesson from Fiel, a very cool drama about how the Holy Spirit helps us determine good and bad came on and kept them captivated.
The first drama.
At the end of the drama came the first mini-preaching point. The leader in charge called up kids to talk about what things they would choose to NOT do with the help of the Holy Spirit. This was kind of a shocking part because as the children gave their answers, these small kids were saying things like, “I’m not going to steal. I’m not going to smoke marijuana. I’m not going to kill anyone.” Understanding the culture and the very difficult and violent backgrounds many of these kids and churches come from, these are not just distant ideas to these kids, but real life things they were saying they were going to say no to.
After that portion came another interlude by Fiel. He and the kids he was journeying with came out to talk to the kids while the stage was in transition. Next came a very special treat. We had more time of praise and worship, but this time it was an all-kids band. At one point they were singing a popular song and stopped the music and left the whole place to sing the chorus. As hundreds of kids sang out together “You are all powerful, great and majestic. You are strong, invincible and there is no one like You!” as much as I was trying to maintain directing the program, tears just began to pour from my eyes at the sweet spirit that was in that place, listening to all of those kids sing in unison with all of their hearts. I will never forget that moment!
All-kids praise band. They were great!
After the second set of praise and worship we had another quick game to get the energy out before the last drama and mini-sermon came as well as the prayer time. The drama was done by our team from our home church and it was a great story about how the Holy Spirit protects us from our enemies. At the end a character representing the Holy Spirit came through the crowd and fought the evil character. As the battle raged the children were cheering him on and when the Holy Spirit prevailed, they went nuts!
The second drama.
“The Holy Spirit is my best friend” – our representation of the Holy Spirit.
It was the perfect segue into our final portion, a short sermon to wrap up who the Holy Spirit is and how he is always with us, our best friend. The pastor walked the kids through the day of Pentecost and did such a wonderful job explaining to them how it affects their lives. That led the way to prayer which was beautiful. Kids all over the building stood to accept Christ into their hearts and then lots of kids came forward to pray for healing in their body. The Iowa team went through the crowd praying over every child that came forward.
I received an email from one of the leaders about a little boy who came to the event. She said, “Lucas is a five-year-old child. He said, ‘When they sang the song Pour Out Your Fire, I felt like my heart was burning like a fire.’ His mother said he had been suffering with several sleepless nights because of asthma attacks. Lucas came forward when the pastor made a call for any children who were sick to come forward for prayer. He said he felt a fire in his feet as they prayed for him. His mother says the Lord healed him of asthma attacks and that night he slept peacefully the entire night!
At the end of the night we stood in awe of what God had done. All the insanity and all the doubts that we would be able to pull it off were all put to rest as we saw so many lives affected. On top of the blessing of seeing the kids having a blast and learning about God, we saw a bridge built between the various churches that had not been very eager to work together previously. At the end of the night every single one of them came to me to say they would like us all to work together again and reach more areas of the city. We’ll start working now to plan events for next year!
Finale and Goodbye
Alex as Fiel with two of our drama team members.
Reports and testimonies are still coming in, but in the next blog I will tell you the testimony that left us all stunned and in awe that night!