The highlight of my morning was playing “what’s the time Mr Wolf” with kids from playgroup here in Gunnedah, but they weren’t concerned one jot for me. The highlight of their morning was hearing a bible story from Alan and Scott – the latter in puppet form – and then running around with them afterward.
Alan and Scott were the storytellers they sat still for and the only wolves they wanted to be chased by. Here at the preschool with a plethora of (wonderful!) women, it was the men on our team who had an amazing impact, prompting incredulous questions from some of the mums who have consistently been shown only one expression of what it means to be a man.
As I chatted to one of the leaders afterward, she grimly outlined the reason for their curiosity. So many of the women who attended had children who were crying out for a father to care for them, to laugh and run with them, to walk them round the circle when they weren’t sure if they could do ‘duck duck goose’ on their own.
The ordinary, even mundane actions that came naturally to our guys were anything but in the lives of the children. That so little was a shimmering contrast to the harsh reality of normal, is a reminder of the brokenness of our world. Our guys are far from perfect – but they do know a heavenly father who has loved them with an everlasting love. It is the love they have been shown in Jesus which encourages them to be the kind of husbands and fathers and brothers that nurture young hearts instead of breaking them.
It made me think about our churches and how there is a part for all of us in ministering to our children. This is too important to make political statements about. I simply praise God for men – husbands, fathers, sons and brothers – who recognise their vital role in modelling a different kind of manhood. The kind of manhood that isn’t concerned with looking foolish, being covered in cotton wool or holding the hand of a puppet. The kind of manhood that protects and cares for our kids, that runs and laughs with them, that reads and sings with them.
I am so thankful for the men in our midst who point our precious young ones to the Saviour who loves them. Today the greatest reward was seeing the faces of the kids who experienced this for the first time. There was no fanfare or glossy presentation, no scouts in the wings. But for anyone who looked there was something else. Here at the playgroup, on a Tuesday morning, with the smallest among us. A glimpse of Jesus.
But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and don’t try to stop them! People who are like these children belong to God’s kingdom.” Matthew 19:14