Ears to Hear: Helping support the Children of the Church

Today’s Talk: Whoso Receiveth Them, Receiveth Me

A year or so ago, my ward underwent a split in our boundaries.  Lots of callings were rearranged. I was called as a Primary teacher of seven nine year old boys. While I admit it was a change from teaching Relief Society, I wholeheartedly have grown to love my calling. There is so much satisfaction in teaching these boys about their Savior.

Week after week we learn about the Book of Mormon. We reenact the war chapters outside on the church house lawn, role-play Alma and Amuleks missionary teachings and make our own Title of Liberty. Each week, we are learning more and more about the scriptures. And the more we learn together, the more I want to apply the teachings directly to their hearts and specific situations.

Don’t get me wrong. Every Sunday is not angelic, I mentioned these were 9 year old boys right?!  However, every Sunday I try to show up and open my heart and share my testimony with them.

President Thomas S Monson has said: “Help God’s children understand what is genuine and important in this life. Help them develop the strength to choose paths that will keep them safely on the way to eternal life. ” Let’s open our arms and our hearts a little wider. These youth need our time and our testimonies.

Neil L. Andersen shares how many children in the church find themselves in diverse situations not of their own making. They have complex family configurations. Often they do not have gospel support at home.

 The Primary children are not going to stop singing “Families Can Be Together Forever, ” but when they sing, “I’m so glad when daddy comes home” or “with father and mother leading the way,” not all children will be singing about their own family.

When we ask children to speak in church or primary, are we giving them the tools they need to succeed? Or are we just expecting they will have someone at home who can help? Unfortunately, not all kids have the support at home to prepare and give talks, scriptures or other assignments. We need to be more careful about taking these situations into account.

My friend Leif attended church by himself. Once, while in Primary, he was asked to give a short talk. He had no mom or dad at church to stand beside him and help him if he forgot what to say. Leif was terrified. Rather than embarrass himself, he just stayed away from church for several months.

Additionally, we are encouraged to be more thoughtful in our gospel teaching. Sometimes our church culture and vernacular might be unique. We are counseled to be aware our language. Are we using words that build or that foster misunderstandings? For example, a lesson on temple marriage might need a thoughtful approach. Some children might have parents who are not sealed, not married or going through a divorce. For them, this topic might be very confusing and lonely. We might want to clarify words or to ask additional questions. We want to create an atmosphere of inclusion, love and understanding.

While it is true that there is more diversity and challenges for the youth today, Elder Andersen points out their spiritual DNA is perfect. God loves His children. And although a child’s earthly situation may not be ideal, their true identity comes from God. He has given them believing hearts and spiritual gifts to help them. Our opportunity,  just as mine with my primary class, is to be aware of them, support them, and most importantly strengthen their love and understanding of the Savior.

A lover of words, walking barefoot in the grass and kitchen dance parties, Patti is always ready for the next adventure. She lives in UT with her ninja husband and three small children who remind her that Jesus wants us to be kind and that storytime is the most important time of the day.


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