“Mommy, let’s do a lemonade stand!” My 6-year-old daughter exclaimed excitedly.
We had just finished reading our Friday evening devotional—a mission story about children raising money to sponsor the education of children around the world. Adelia’s enthusiasm was contagious, and we began the weekend with plans to run a lemonade stand on Sunday morning.
We had read stories about how a goat or a small flock of chickens could provide income to a family in need, so it was decided that 50% of the profit would go to ADRA to purchase chickens for a family. This would enable both children—Adelia and my 3-year-old son, John—to give to a project that interested them, see some of the tangible rewards of their efforts, and teach them about money management.
Sunday morning dawned sunny and warm. Adelia hauled lawn chairs out to the yard while I made the lemonade. “People will want to stay and talk, of course,” she said with confidence. As I finished setting up the stand, she raced to the homes of neighbors to invite them over.
Adelia operated the stand for three hours, with a certain degree of “moral support” from John, and help counting coins from me and other family members. When she finally decided to close, there was enough money from online donations and in-person lemonade and cookie purchases to give two chickens and feed to a family and put money toward the purchase of a goat. She had raised over one hundred dollars.
There were several factors that contributed to her success: we live on a corner of a centrally located street in the heart of an Adventist-university town. We have both sets of grandparents living nearby who gladly offered donations and support. And we have friends and neighbors who are happy to support the worthy project of a little friend. But I think there were two other factors that surpassed these.
First, God blesses our efforts to help others. Although we sold the lemonade for 50 cents a cup, people were very generous and gave much more. Second, God uses those who are willing, no matter what age. As an extrovert, Adelia is more than happy to spend time with people and is a take-charge kind of girl. She channeled that energy into the lemonade stand and enjoyed the rewards of spending time with people, running her own “business,” and using it for God.
We often underestimate the abilities of little children, assuming that they should be able to count, read/write and have a measure of self-sufficiency before they are able to be “useful” for God. But young children are innovative, sincere, enthusiastic and hard to resist. What fabulous qualities to be used for the Gospel!
Parents, listen to your children when they have ideas about sharing the Good News with others. Churches, involve your little children in safe ways in church services, programs, events and evangelistic campaigns. Provide them with the support and the necessary resources but let them feel that they are the leaders. When we invite our children to take part in ministry activities, we are teaching them to live out the Gospel and training them for future spiritual leadership.
Sarah Burton is a freelance writer based in Berrien Springs, Michigan.