I am happy to share with you my personal impression of the Global Children’s Forum (GCF) movement. This movement helped with the development of The Cape Town Commitment (CTC), particularly in the framing of the Call to Action for Children (scroll down to number 5). GCF will continue to help Lausanne represent the cause of children in the world.
I was part of the group that had the vision to create the GCF, which was birthed at the Lausanne 2004 Forum For World Evangelization in Pattaya, Thailand. It was at that meeting that we realized the task was much larger than we all previously thought: 2 billion children below 14 years of age . . . what a huge challenge!
As a group of about 10 people, we met regularly over the next few years to seek God’s guidance on moving forward. In 2007 we developed a global forum to bring leaders together regularly to seek the Lord’s thoughts on how to work together more effectively in children’s ministry. Our first GCF was held in 2008 in Wheaton, IL USA.
What has amazed me since the beginning of this group is the way everyone was consulted and their ideas and input taken seriously. This sense of respect has allowed us to build bridges of trust and because of this the desire to work together on specific tasks or projects has increased significantly.
As we prayed and worked together, God showed us that many countries did not have ready access to children’s ministry resources. This led to the development of www.Max7.org, an open source ministry resources library. God also showed us that many millions of people were ready to serve children but did not know how. God then gave us the vision of “one for fifty”, an initiative to train one person in ministry for every fifty children around the world.
Next God convinced us that we should develop a strategy for advocating the cause of children in the realm of churches and institutions such as Bible colleges. Our ”Aim Lower” and “Today” videos ( shown at Cape Town 2010) were made and shown all over the world in thousands of places and churches. Finally, and to me the most important, was the discovery of the value of Christian children in reaching out to unchurched children. These children are the best “missionaries” possible among their peers and we need to do all we can to train, equip and empower them to effectively share their faith in Christ.
The recent meeting of the GCF in Manila was the best forum ever experienced in the sense of key working group achievements and in building trusting relationships. This forum brought sudden clarity, common purpose and momentum to the group. We could feel and see the results of all these years of prayer, work and perseverance. God’s vision became so much clearer and many of us felt we were living in an “ah ha moment.”
Our own ministry, Grain of Wheat International (GWI), has been significantly influenced by involvement in the GCF. Over 60+ years our mission has remained the same but since 2004, and our involvement in the GCF, GWI has greatly changed its strategy and vision.
My Middle East director, Raja Achi, and I have been part of the GCF movement from day one and we were able to contribute passion for the vision and our skills on different projects. This “new adventure” of the GCF also allowed me and GWI to slowly change our mindset and the way we were looking at ministry. We now look at ministry from a more collaborative perspective, with an enlarged vision of what God wanted to accomplish through us for the kingdom.
We are currently trying to communicate to our collaborators about the new tools being developed and about this new way of thinking. We want to think big, that is, to allow God to challenge us in each country where we are, on how to do our ministry in the best possible way and working together with partners. We know that if we want to go far in reaching many more children with the gospel, we need to work together with others.
Personally I have the deep conviction and certitude that GCF is from God for today’s evangelism. Children are key for today’s world if we want anything to change for the better. I also believe children are the best way to accomplish the Great Commission. Jesus himself put the child in our midst as the best example! It is not easy; it is often humbling to be involved in children’s ministry. There are big challenges before us, but I believe wholeheartedly that working together is the only way forward.