Pentecostals Emphasizing Children's Ministry

By Caldwell, Deborah Kovach | The Florida Times Union, July 29, 1999 | Go to article overview

Pentecostals Emphasizing Children's Ministry


Caldwell, Deborah Kovach, The Florida Times Union


DALLAS -- Angela Hudson was 3 when she knelt by a recliner at home and prayed for Jesus to come into her heart.

"At first, she wouldn't receive the message," said her mother, Connie Hudson. "For days she wouldn't. But finally she decided it was time."

Now 8, Angela prays with her mother every day in a vacuum cleaner closet under the stairs. She recently led her sister, Christin, 3, to believe in Jesus while they were in the bathtub.

"I told her to repeat the prayer after me," said Angela, wearing a frilly white dress and sitting on her mother's lap in a ballroom earlier this month at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dallas.

The Hudsons were in the audience at a children's ministry seminar led by David Walters, a Georgia-based evangelist on the cutting edge of a phenomenon sweeping Pentecostalism: turning children as young as toddlers into "warriors for God."

Through intense training in prayer and Bible study, parents believe they can fight off what they believe are Satan's attacks. The children, they say, may go on to become prophets and healers.

With names like National Children's Prayer Network, Spiritual Warfare Ad-vanced Training, International Children's Ministry Institute, Super Kidz 4 Christ and Nothin' but Jesus Ministries Inc., dozens of children's ministries are popping up with the purpose of "armoring" children with the Holy Spirit.

An array of forces seems to be driving parents to instill the faith in their children at younger and younger ages: belief that the end of the world is near, television violence, fallout from President Clinton's moral failings and the Colorado school shooting.

"Our children," Walters said, "could be the last generation on this earth before the return of Christ."

That's what Susan Lovvorn believes.

Lovvorn, a children's minister at The North Church in Carrollton, Texas, teaches first-through fourth-graders using drama, music, puppets and crafts.

"This is a chosen generation," Lovvorn said. "When you look at what's going on, I do believe Jesus' return is soon. There are too many rumblings and warning signs. So much is going against children."

She is hopeful for just one reason.

"The children will usher in a revival," Lovvorn said, her eyes shining. "God moves in so many ways with these children."

On the Sunday after the Littleton massacre last spring, she said, some fifth-graders discussed school pressures.

"Suddenly, they started opening the Bible and giving each other scripture verses to encourage one another," she said. "To me, that's a move of the spirit."

To get the kids to that point, ministers are devising ever more clever ways to hold their attention. During vacation Bible school last month, The North Church used a confetti cannon, a blimp and Star Wars theme music to jazz up a presentation.

Power House is the name of the room where Lovvorn leads about 100 elementary school-age kids. The walls are painted in swirls of red, yellow, purple and green, and there's a black-and-white tiled stage. The room has a sound system and an area for costume changes and puppet storage. Muppets and Veggie Tales characters sit on 13 round tables loaded with craft supplies.

Upstairs in the High Voltage class, about 35 fifth- and sixth-graders were learning about the congregation's belief that they are living in the end times. Teacher Valentine Robinson asked the kids if they thought the Rapture, a moment toward the end of the world when some Christians believe Jesus will swoop down and literally lift them into the clouds, was about to take place. …

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