God is usually doing more behind our backs than in front of our faces!

5th March 2019 3 By Mark Griffiths

For this blog I wanted to give you an extract from David Goodwin’s book, “Kids Ministry is for Real” published by Kidsreach Inc.   David Goodwin is a New Zealand born Pastor and Children’s Ministry legend who now lives in Sydney Australia.  The story is about me, it happened over 15 years ago on one of my early visits to New Zealand.  It involves a story I really have told a lot of times, but on this Sunday God decided to use the story in a way that I’ve only recently become aware of.   And the story isn’t in any way to show how wonderful I am (I could line dozens of people who would testify that I’m not!!).  But it does illustrate such an important principle, GOD IS USUALLY DOING MORE BEHIND OUR BACKS THAN IN FRONT OF OUR FACES!

The words that follow are taken verbatim from David’s book:

This story is not about something that I was directly involved in, but I was a witness to it.

I had invited prominent children’s ministry advocate and author, Mark Griffiths from the UK, to speak at one of our conferences.  On the Sunday following he was invited to speak at a local church.

With more than 1000 people present Mark spoke on Ephesians 3:20 … and God can do more than what we ask.

It was an intergenerational church service, meaning that all ages were present.  There were a group of young children sitting on the carpet near the front.  Mark chose a young girl, about 5-years old, from amongst them and in front of the congregation interviewed her.  As it was his first time in that part of the country, Mark didn’t know her.

They chatted for a while, and then Mark produced a bar of chocolate and told her if she listened to the sermon carefully, and could answer three questions at the end, he would give her the chocolate bar. 

Throughout his message, Mark kept a connection with the little girl.  He reminded her of his agreement to give her the chocolate and encouraged her to keep listening.  Her beautiful face seemed to be lit up like a Christmas tree with expectation. 

When the message was over, and the prayer time finished, Mark called the little girl back to the front.  The congregation were on the edge of their seats as he asked her the first question, then the second and finally the third. 

‘Yes,’ Mark said, ‘You have answered each question correctly, and so I suppose you should get the chocolate I promised?  Well I have changed my mind.  I am not going to give it to you.’

For a brief moment, there was a silence across the congregation.  People were gobsmacked!  It is hard to know what they were thinking.  Mark, however, was wise enough not to prolong it for more than a few seconds or he might have been lynched!  He then produced, from under the pulpit, a huge slab of chocolate and gave it to her.

The girl’s eyes just about popped out of her head.  She looked like she had never seen such a large chocolate bar and it was all hers!  It was, of course, an illustration of his message that God often gives us far more than we request. 

There was another chapter to the story.  Unbeknown to Mark, or myself, but certainly known to the congregation, the little girl had been in remission after a lengthy period of treatment for leukaemia.  But it had returned, and that very week she was to undergo another, and more aggressive, round of chemotherapy.  Specialists’ advice given to them was that when leukaemia returns, treatment is not usually as effective as the first time.

This was a powerful illustration made to the whole church that morning.  God reminded them, very strongly that God can give far more than we can ask.  This was exactly what the girl and her family needed to hear. 

Years later when I went to speak at that church, I was thrilled to see the same girl up the front as one of the singers helping to lead worship.  She ‘shone’ as she did on that morning with Mark and I was able to encourage her in front of her church family. 

How good is our God!