“Say, isn’t that a new donkey Ep?” I asked watching his burro nibbling on the grass in the courtyard.
He smiled, “Why yes it is. Customs wouldn’t let me bring the old one across the border.” Epaphras offered me a falafel as we sat in the shade. “So how are things going at Canyon View John?”
“Great! We had nearly 500 people here last Sunday night for Trunk or Treat*.”
“That’s wonderful. I would have stopped by but my burro doesn’t have a trunk,” he replied with a twinkle in his eye. “Now if I rode an elephant like Thomas, that would be a different story.”
I had to think about that for a minute and then I laughed. “Seriously Ep, it’s great to see all the kids coming to Canyon View, but I worry. So many of them leave the church when they go off to college. I don’t know what to do or say.”
He thought for a moment, then leaned forward and answered. “That’s the challenge John. There is a critical moment when children must decide whether they truly believe or not. They need to discover if their faith is honestly theirs or if it is just something they inherited from their parents.”
“But think about all the things we are doing as a congregation! We have a children’s minister and a youth minister and Children’s Bible Hour, Bible Classes, Bible Bowl and all kinds of activities too.” I objected wiping the crumbs off my shirt. “Isn’t there something we can do?”
The old man raised his eyebrows. “Those are all fine programs I’m sure. I wish we could have done some of those things twenty centuries ago, but it would be hard to have Children’s Bible Hour in a catacomb.” He thought for a minute and then continued. “But John some things – the most important things – don’t change. If you want your children to have faith, you have to have faith. If the church isn’t important to you, don’t be surprised if it’s not important to your children.”
Then, as usual, he got on his donkey and rode away leaving me with something to think about.
* Trunk or Treat is a wonderful program for all the children in the neighborhood. Members (and neighbors) decorate their cars and trucks and provide a safe activity for kids. We have games and prizes and dinner and a costume parade the last Sunday of every October.