My wife and I are currently filling in for a Sunday School class with our church. The children are 4 years old and there are about 10-12 of them. Today, we did the story of the five loaves and two fishes. So, my wife got the breadcrumbs up and broke them all up! On my part, I did a puppet show in which “whiskers” the mouse “talked” to the children. And we went over what the children had learned earlier with the breadcrumbs!
Now the children just love puppets and are amazingly drawn to them. (If you want to reach children, consider puppets!) Several times I said to the children, via the puppets, things like, “I love you!” and “You’re special!” The children warmed up to that tremendously! And then, I had a surprise! Many of the children began to line up, one by one, to get a “hug” from one of the puppets! Well, you can be sure that the “puppet” responded by gently “hugging” them on the cheek, and saying, “I love you!” to them again. Of course, they did not want a hug from me, but rather from the puppet! It was the puppet that they could identify with better – you might say, one of God’s special tools to be able to reach inside the hearts of the children.
Now the week before, we had done the story of the Good Samaritan, again using puppets. It turned out that I was missing one puppet on that occasion, and so had to re-use the “bad-guy” in the story as one of the other characters! (As much as I tried to convince the children that this really wasn’t the “bad” guy anymore, I had a hard time convincing them!!!) Well, when the parents came to pick up their children at the end of our Sunday class that day (that is, the week after doing the story of the Good Samaritan), one of the parents commented, “My daughter really remembered the story (of the Good Samaritan) that you did for them last Sunday”. Thankfully, it had made a lasting impression on their child – even though I re-used the “bad” guy in the story as another character!
Of course, depending on the age, and the interest, it may not be puppets that reaches everyone at every time. In some cases, a good comic book might be what speaks “love” to a child. At other times, taking him or her out for even a small snack like a muffin or a french fry might be the thing that “opens him right up” to receiving love. A card game can be an amazing powerful tool in the hands of a family that seeks to built relationships. Or how about a game of chess? During these times when outside stresses are more easily able to be put on “hold,” love can often be communicated and received much better than when people are on the “go” all the time.
What reaches the heart with the one that you are trying to love today? I’m a man, and when my wife cooks for me, believe it or not, that reaches my heart! With women, it is often the case that they simply want someone to be able to share with, and to listen to them. I “picked” up this tidbit on a Christian television show, by the way, in which, as it happened, the man was saying how women “needed” to speak, on average, something like 60,000 words a day, compared with men, who “needed” to speak around 27,000 words a day … or something like that! (I may be off by a few thousand here and there, but you get the gist, I trust!) So the idea here is that men need to learn to be good listeners.
Keys to the heart. There are many of them. Ask God what “keys” he would have you use today, to reach the persons who are closest and dearest to you!