Dwight L. Moody was once asked how many conversions he had made in one of his meetings. He replied, "Two and a half." When pressed for an explanation, He said, "Two children and one mature man." The man's day of usefulness for God was nearly spent, but the children had a lifetime before them. Moody realized the value of child conversions. We have been given this counsel : "God wants every child of tender age to be adopted into His family."—"Counsels to Teachers," p. 169.
One of the richest fields of evangelism today, yet one practically unentered by our workers, is child evangelism. The listening ear can hear the Macedonian call coming from the mass of children in our cities, towns, and villages. If, in connection with public efforts we could have a well-organized, ably conducted series of meetings for the children, say three or four afternoons a week, we would come closer to following the admonition to Peter, "Feed My lambs."
Other denominations are waking up to the need, and are organizing for this work. We should be "the head and not the tail" in this line, and not follow the lead of other churches. But in this work we must follow closely the instruction given us through the Spirit of prophecy, making the instruction for children simple and easy to grasp, yet attractive and effective. Otherwise we will repeat the mistake so often made which would interpret Christ's words to read, "Feed My giraffes."
Story of Creation in Flannelgraph
Since eighty-five percent of our knowdedge is received through the sense of sight, we gain much by the use of flannel story-graphs, chalk talks, pastel illustrations of songs and stories, object talks, pager-cutting devices, pictures, and color slides. The latter ma' be shown on a daylight screen, which does not require the room to be darkened.
The story-o-graph, with flannel, lends itself especially to this line of work. The accompanying illustrations will show how it can be used in explaining the doctrines suggested in the ..tory of creation. This topic requires many and varied subjects, or pictures, and is therefore perhaps not as easy to present as would be one on baptism or some such subject where larger and fewer pictures would be used.
I use two boards for this subject. These are made of Weatherwood, a compositionlike hard-pressed paper pulp. One board is 42" x 50", and the smaller panel board is 24" x 60". To make them easier to carry, I have each board cut in two pieces, edged on the back with one-inch window stop, and hinged together by two loose pin butts. The board is covered with flannel on which is drawn a foundation scene—foreground and sky colored with crayonex. The ,flannel-backed pictures, which are to be placed on the foundation as I proceed, are placed conveniently on a table nearby, and I tell the story as I place the pictures.
First Day.—Now to begin the story of creation. On the panel board I place a flannel illustration of the earth partially encircled in clouds. (See Illustration I.) Since the Holy Spirit is mentioned on the first day of creation, I explain the Trinity of the Godhead, and prove Jesus to be the Creator, establishing His existence before He came as a babe in Bethlehem. Before passing to the second day of creation, I place a strip of three-ply wood, painted black and white (representing evening and morning), in a wooden base or standard. This has a figure 1 on the top, and is placed in the first slot of the wooden base, the numeral i indicating the first day of creation. By this device the emphasis placed on the "evening and morning" of the days of creation helps to establish the 24-hour day, and to set apart the Sabbath from the working days, as brought out later in the story. The evening is established as being at sunset, of course.
Second Day.—Turning to the larger board, I place a lake in the foreground, and put clouds in the sky. (See Illustration II.) These are of flannel, so that other flannel-backed pictures can be placed on them. (Flannel adheres to flannel.) After explaining the meaning of "firmament," I place the "second day" in the second slot in the wooden device, as shown in the illustration.
Third Day.--In placing the flowers, bushes, and trees to represent the work of the third day, I include a path to be used later, and a few rocks, and tell some of the marvels about grasses, etc. The power of choice is explained, and the third day is then placed in the wooden device. (See Illustration III.)
Fourth Day.—As I tell of the work of the fourth day, I place a sun with the clouds in the sky, and place the fourth day in its position. (Illustration IV.)
Fifth Day.—Illustration V shows the work of the fifth day. Birds are placed on the rocks in the lake, in the trees and sky, and on the ground ; and fish are mentioned, as I tell of the marvels of the fifth day of creation, and place the fifth day's symbol in place.
Sixth Day.—The sixth day's work (Illustration VI) adds an elephant coming over the hill, a lion, and two deer, while some puppies watch the birds on the lake. Adam and Eve are added to the picture, and the body, soul, and spirit are explained, and the unconscious state of the dead established. The sixth day is then placed in the device.'
Seventh Day.—Then, as shown in Illustration VII, number seven is placed in the last container, and five wooden circles of gold color are placed over it, one by one, as each is explained—Rest, Blessing, Holiness, Sanctification, Divine Ownership. These wooden circlets are of a dark and light gold color to represent the evening and morning, teaching that the dark part of the day (our Friday night) is also holy as well as the daytime of the seventh day. I think it well to show the law chart at this time, and explain how the fourth commandment is the seal of the law, but saying nothing of the mark of the beast.
This covers the story of creation and touches the points of evolution, the 24-hour day of creation with its evening and morning, the preexistence of Christ, the Trinity, the Sabbath, the nature of man, the state of the dead, the seal of God, Christ as Creator, etc., in such a way that children can grasp and retain it. The lesson need not cover this much ground all at one time, of course.
Every meeting should include some drill work. There is helpful material of this kind—teaching the books of the Bible, the names of the apostles, the geography of the Holy Land, where Bible characters are found in the Bible, through drills and songs. These drills are refreshing and instructive, and can be used to good advantage.
I believe this story-o-graph method of teaching could well be a leading feature in teaching our doctrines in child evangelism. Supplemented by object talks, chalk talks, projected pictures, songs, choruses, and drills, the doctrines can be made clear and interesting.
There is a great field of promise in this work especially if altar calls, literature work, and personal work are not omitted, and the leaders are hopeful and energetic, fully consecrated to the work under God.
I am hoping that the time will come when in our large cities and centers, competent leaders can train carefully selected church members in child evangelism, while they in turn meet appointments in the community and give to audiences of eager children the lessons they have been taught at the training center. Thus the youth can be trained to do the work spoken of in "The Great Controversy:" that is, preach after the adults are silenced.
And when at last,
Our labors here complete,
With sheaves in hand,
We near that city great,
My only hope—that I present to Him
A throng of ransomed children at the gate.