August 24, 2015 Teresa Costello with additional reporting by Gay Deles
Adventist children’s ministry leaders in West Java, Indonesia use a variety of activities to encourage a more vibrant relationship with Jesus among children. On August 9, more than 700 children and 200 staff from 25 Adventist churches joined in a one-day Children’s Spiritual Celebration at Indonesian Adventist University (Universitas Advent Indonesia) in Bandung.
With a theme of “Christ loves children of different nations”, participants aged 2-14 years old spent the day in age-appropriate activities, seminars and break-out sessions. The younger children enjoyed more active programming while the older ones participated in life skills preparation such as lectures on health and sexual purity as well as cooking and gardening classes.
The day also focused on music and cultural expression. Attendees enthusiastically joined in a festival of songs as well as displayed their national outfits.
This annual event began in 2013 when Nelly Sihotang, West Indonesia Union Mission (WIUM) Children’s Ministries director, saw a need for innovative children’s events that would progressively offer a spiritual foundation. From that initial year, organizers see returning attendees each year. Some attend classes while others now assist the leaders. This trend follows the leaders’ goal of emphasizing “leadership, spiritual development and how to be a friend to others,” according to Linda Purba, West Java Conference (WJC) children’s ministries director.
In addition to this event, West Java Conference hosts other children ministries’ events to enhance spiritual growth. Earlier this year in March, WJC children attended the first division-wide children’s prayer conference. Purba notes that during the three-day event, the children “showed more interest in prayer and…the Bible.” This was followed a conference-level prayer conference attended by 250 children.
Ultimately, leaders such as Sihotang and Purba strive to equip children with a personal faith experience. “I like to see children maintain a connection with God even without the presence of their mothers or fathers. They will feel that peace wherever they are, like when they are in [school] dormitories [and other places],” shares Sihotang.
In addition to medallions to commemorate their participation at the August 9 event, attendees left with a greater appreciation for each other and for the Savior who celebrates children.