Hi, my name is Mr. Paul … You may ask, “What’s a 63-year-old guy doing teaching 200 or so Grade 1-4 children on a weekend once a month?” Let me answer that by reading a few verses from Matthew 18:1-5:
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus. They asked Him, ‘Who is the most important person in the kingdom of heaven?’ Jesus called a little child over to Him. He had the child stand among them. Jesus said, ‘What I’m about to tell you is true. You need to change and become like little children. If you don’t you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who becomes as free of pride as this child is the most important in the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me.’”
How are you … how am I … doing at that pride thing? Hmm.
As an almost life-long believer in Jesus as my personal Savior, I’ve had opportunities to be part of God’s kingdom work in many ways but there’s a constant theme that has always included children’s ministry.
From teaching a small class of difficult Grade 4 boys in a church in Red Deer, to leadership roles in Christian Service Brigade and Awana clubs, to serving as a counselor, Program Director, and Camp Director at Camp Chamisall, to being the FAC board member with interface responsibilities to DiscoveryLand, it has continued through my whole life.
I recall about 17 years ago sitting beside Pastor Terry (Lead Pastor of FAC at the time) in a class on determining your spiritual gifts. Part of that was to focus on what passions God has given you for ministry. At that time I was serving on the big church worship team about once a month. I quipped to Terry that I was passionate about leading worship music and working with kids. He said to me, “So, why don’t you lead worship for kids?” … Duh …
I took that to heart and was one of the first worship leaders for DiscoveryLand back in the old church building on Glenmore Trail … I remember well having the kids of some of the friends I sang with (like Katrina Reynolds, who is getting married in June and has led worship at FAC) coming into the gym with wide eyes at Mr. Paul teaching the songs and actions.
This gradually morphed into a teaching role, leaving the kids’ worship to those more aerobically inclined. DiscoveryLand has truly become my ministry sweet spot, teaching kids about Jesus’ love and His teachings, that if we were all better at following, our lives would be easier … just sayin’ (to coin a Pastor Scott phrase) …
Over the past 12 or 13 years, I’ve had the privilege of teaching kids in a fun, interactive environment in DiscoveryLand. Wouldn’t you know it, we’re already filling the expanded children’s wing that we just opened about two and a half years ago … and what a “United Nations” of kids we have each weekend!
Teaching themes over the past couple years have included topics such as humility, love, obedience, forgiveness, wisdom, service, self-control, perseverance, contentment, generosity, honesty, patience, and thankfulness.
Let me ask again … How are you, how is Mr. Paul doing in these areas? Not a teaching prep time goes by that Mr. Paul doesn’t have to first examine his own heart before being able to teach the kids. In a world bombarded by “me first,” “there is no God, or He doesn’t matter,” “don’t bother showing respect or love to others,” “needing every new toy” … our message of: (1) We can trust God no matter what; (2) We need to make the right choice based on wisdom from God’s Word; and (3) We need to treat others the way we want to be treated … this message is truly counter-cultural. This living with “child-like” faith and lack of pride is not always easy.
My teaching is motivated by the kids getting it … That they’re accepting Jesus as their Saviour (38 on Easter weekend), getting baptized, and just growing in what it means to follow Jesus – loving Him and loving others. I was especially encouraged a couple years ago when a story was told at the funeral of a young man, a DiscoveryLand volunteer … He had told his Mom how much the teaching in DiscoveryLand spoke to Him. I think he was learning to have faith like a little child … simple, trusting faith. I know I am.
I also received the ultimate compliment a few weeks ago, when one of the kids’ mom shared with me that her son refers to me not as Mr. Paul, but as “Pastor Paul” … What an awesome responsibility and privilege to be part of the children’s ministry at FAC.
Can you picture Jesus embracing the children, blessing them, and them receiving His love? … I can … That’s why I’ll be serving as a teacher in DiscoveryLand until Pastor Crystal “fires” me for not being able to remember the lesson anymore! It’s truly a highlight of my month every month. God bless you all and your children and grandchildren.
Written by Mr. Paul (aka Pastor Paul)
Want to learn more about volunteering in DiscoveryLand? Contact Pastor Crystal Sylvester.