Growing up as a homeschooler, my highlights of the week were going to gymnastics and church. But when the two conflicted for my time, church won. I missed gymnastics greatly, but I needed God more. God had always been a big part of my life, but I wanted to tell others about Him as well. There’s always a way to share Him, but He was about to provide a greater opportunity.
In the spring of 2009 my parents and I began handing out Native New Day studies door-to-door in Cass Lake, Minnesota. These handouts were to prepare for a series of meetings by Native American speaker Monte Church. During the meetings I helped with the kid’s program. When the meetings ended, my family and I continued to hold the children’s program in the elementary school.
Then the Bemidji Adventist Church bought a 16-passenger bus for picking up kids and a house for the meetings that quickly became known as “The Church House.” Our average attendance on Wednesday evenings has grown from three kids to about 20 (and often 30). We sing, pray, have nature trivia and then free time. Sometimes we have to get creative thinking of new things. Once we hid a glow stick in the snow and the kids enjoyed searching for it. On Sabbath afternoons we start with singing, followed by a short lesson, prayer and craft or free time. We serve a snack on both days and try to teach them about healthy foods.
Children radiate energy, and it’s easy to catch the excitement and have fun—whether it’s rainbow tag, a snowball fight or playing house. Since we are there twice a week, we get attached to them and even get to attend some of their family gatherings.
This year, we began teaching Pathfinder honors. We started with the candle honor. The kids artistically created various types of candles—dipped, sand, ice and water. Next we began the Red Alert honor teaching what to do in emergency situations. We plan on taking camping, canoeing and hiking trips this summer. Pathfinders gives us more time to socialize with the older group.
Sometimes it’s challenging getting the kids to listen or be quiet, but it is nothing compared to the special moments we have with the kids. It’s all worth it when they ask me about the end times, come to me for comfort, ask about something in the Bible, or yell out “I love you!” when they’re leaving. It’s astonishing to watch these kids learn and grow. Sometimes when we have kids stay at our house overnight, as we often do, we’ll look through old pictures. They love to remember good times and see how differently they look now from when they began coming to church. We’ve also brought kids to the Minnesota camp meeting, North Star Camp and many other events my family attends.
Many kids have asked us, “How long are you going to have church?” The answer is always along the lines of, “We don’t plan on quitting!” I look forward to many years of teaching them more about God, and being by their sides in the midst of troubles and joys.
Author Karina Ewert, age 15, lives in Bemidji, Minnesota.