Let the Children Preach!


“That girl is so scared I don’t know if she can do it,” I told my Cambodian assistant, Sophal. We were trying to train the middle grade students at Takong Adventist School to do all the presentations for a week of evangelism.

“The guys aren’t doing much better,” Sophal shot back. “They’re so tied to their scripts I can’t get them to look up. What do we do? The meetings start tonight!”

The resources were excellent. Adventist-laymen’s Services & Industries (ASI) had created two large scrolls with beautiful pictures to match 26 simple but comprehensive health and evangelistic topics. ASAP had them translated into Khmer. For our 2022 mission trip we had decided that our group of foreigners would not do the speaking but would equip the locals. Now we weren’t so sure.

I slipped over to another school building where my wife, Julie, and ASAP field supervisor Vicheak were working with a different group of children. I was amazed to see them eagerly sharing their testimonies. Principal Makara had selected boys and girls who had significant answers to their prayers. Some of our mission team members, Jeff, Ruth, Garcia, and Pastor Steve, were interviewing all the school children with their translators, Vannara, Vanny, Jasmine, and Somnang, finding more powerful stories. These testimonies were going to make a great addition to the nightly evangelistic meetings.

“It didn’t just happen,” Julie said. “Vicheak and I have been interrupting them all morning and showing them how to speak clearly and excitedly.”

“Please help us,” I begged. “We need your training in the Bible story-telling department!” Vicheak came and watched our students trying their best.

“Put your script aside,” he instructed them. “Now look at the picture and tell me everything you know about it.” One boy started in. “Nice, but louder,” Vicheak encouraged. He smiled as he heard the boy steadily grow in confidence.

“Now go back to your script and see what you missed.” The students poured over the words, circling and writing in big letters things they needed to remember. Vicheak assigned the girl that was especially nervous to read the Bible verses.

While our son, Josiah, led the other children in games, the evening’s presenters stuck to their preparations. Bit by bit, three hours later they were ready.

Meanwhile, Amber and Christian, who had joined us from Canada, were working with local health ministries leader Chouvy to train another group of children for the health presentations. They also struggled to put the long scripts into their own words. This was new for everyone.

“It’s almost time to start,” Principal Makara called out. “Let’s pray.” Americans, Canadians, and Cambodians crowded together to ask God to bring the villagers to the meeting in spite of the dark rainclouds threatening to keep everyone home. Teachers and students pleaded for God to speak truth into the hearts of the Buddhist parents and grandparents.

As a group of children began to sing, more and more people trickled in until 136 had registered, along with many little ones.

For the next seven nights I watched in awe as child after child rose to speak. Sometimes they were nervous, but always they spoke clearly, sharing words of beautiful truth. I saw their family members beam with pride. More importantly I thrilled to see many come forward, first for prayer, then later to accept Jesus as their Savior and to take their stand to keep God’s commandments.

The last night there were 186 registered guests plus more than 100 children packed into a classroom. Who was preaching the last sermon about the New Earth? The nervous little girl. I couldn’t help but wonder what mighty things God will do with these children to prepare the world for Jesus’ soon return. What if we had just done all the preaching ourselves instead of letting the little children come and serve their loving Master?