Dwight A. Moody
I stood to preach last Sunday at the First Baptist Church of St. Simons Island, my new home church. My chosen text was Mark 1: 1-11, and the reader of the day was a ten-year-old boy named Samuel Wyatt Curson. He is my grandson. I introduced him and moved the brown box in place; he stepped on it and faced the congregation. Then he read about Isaiah, John the Baptizer, and Jesus the Son of God. I was so proud.
While he was reading the Bible, I sat behind him thinking about the children in the news. When I stood to preach I called for prayer for two groups of these children.
First, the 13 soccer players and their coach trapped in a cave in Thailand. Yes, I know their average age was a bit past my grandson’s ten years, but in the big scheme of things they are children, and the attention of the entire world was focused on their plight.
Morning, noon, and night the media around the world fed the global appetite for information: Who were these boys? How did they wind up in such a dangerous place? Who found them? What was it like before they were found? Would they survive? Who is helping them? Why can’t they swim? Has it started to rain?
Word came of a highly trained military man who died trying to prepare for their escape. If he could not get out, we all thought, how in the world could these boys, these children get out alive?
Second, I named the children, many of them younger than 5, caught not in a cave but in a cage, or in a tent, or in a strange room, all of them guarded by stern people who had taken them from their parents. They are in detention, caught in the nasty web woven by those who work for the United States government.
Again, the media has kept all of us informed about their plight: who they are, what country they fled, what happened to their parents, and most of all, how is it possible to reunite these children with their parents. It was and is clear that it is more difficult to secure the release of these captive Latina children than it is to rescue the Thai boys from their cave.
Indeed, as I was greeting people at the close of the worship, one man said to me, “They just announced that four of the soccer boys are safely out of the cave.”
“Jesus loves the little children,” I had said during my call to prayer, ”all the children of the world.”
This conviction came flooding back into my soul when I sat alone in the theater four days later to watch the movie “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.”
It is a documentary about Fred Rogers, the Reverend Fred Rogers, who took his Presbyterian ordination papers and created his own congregation of little people: children. He launched his popular television show in 1968, the most explosive and divisive year in modern American history; and by the time I moved my three children to Pittsburgh in 1981, he was firmly established as a superstar in the national television universe.
His vocation? To listen to children and talk to children and minister to children and comfort children. And in the process, he listened to adults and talked with adults and ministered to adults and comforted adults. All the ways he cared for children, he also cared for adults. This is why the film was such a compelling story, such an inspirational experience for the 40 or so adults who sat around me in the Kentucky theater in downtown Lexington. As the credits rolled, we stood and clapped.
I am sorry I never met Fred Rogers. I rejoice that the soccer boys are free and safe. I look for a way that I can join in the effort to rescue the children trapped along our southern border. And I am sure I will remember the rest of my life the day my grandson, Samuel Wyatt Curson, helped me preach by reading the gospel of Jesus Christ in such an articulate, inspirational manner.
It’s all about the children, for us and for our Lord Jesus, who said, “Let the children come to me and do not forbid them, for of such is the kingdom of God.”