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  • Writer's pictureGrace Episcopal Church

From Connect to Courage

by Erin van Santen

We've reinstated a Bible study course for preteens here at Grace called Connect, and I couldn't be more excited. Yesterday I was reminded of the critical importance of investing in our younger members. At the Wednesday noon service, Frans preached from a text in Daniel, the story known to most of us as "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego" or "The Fiery Furnace." First he asked us to imagine our seventeen or eighteen-year-old selves. "Full of idealism!" "Dutifully responsible!" "Hell on wheels!" were some of the responses. Regardless of the kinds of teenagers we were, we can all agree that looking back, most of us were filled with a youthful idealism, excited about what the future might bring.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were these ages when their country was overtaken, and the dictator who overtook it sent the IB students and the Ivy-Leagers of their day to the capital city to learn how to become leaders within a new, and very distinctly un-Jewish regime. Forcibly removed from their homes, families, and faith, the three young men fought to keep aspects of their Jewish faith as part of their lives and identities, and were even ready to die for this faith.

How did three young men, filled with youthful idealism, have such strength and (and courage) to buck the new regime they found themselves in? It's because they remembered the faith lessons of their youth. They learned these faith lessons well as children, and when pushed to the limit remembered the stories of a God who could save them.

I found this sermon an inspiration for our children's ministry, for our preteens in particular. In a phase of life where most kids feel unknown, unseen, and are searching for their true identity, I am happy to say we now have something to offer them.

Connect is a smartly-designed, fun, and holistic Bible study for preteens. Kids look at individual Bible studies throughout the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation. The studies are divided into ten 6-week units. The sessions begin with ice breakers and funny videos, drawing the kids in to the center of the story, the history of God's people, giving the context to who Jesus is and why he's the center of God's story.

May the knowledge learned here in these walls at Grace, prepare our children, families, and students for whatever lies ahead, and give them the courage to stand in their God-given identity. Amen.

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