When people think of a
mistake, it’s usually a regrettable decision or action. Few people, however,
think of a child as a mistake.
At a Holiday Bible Club
while school was out of session in South Africa during the World Cup games,
youth pastor Tyronne Eilenberg of Pinetown Baptist Church in Durban realized
that some of the children had never been told the words “I love you.” Some had
even been told by their parents they were a mistake from birth.
As the club was coming to an
end, the children played harder and the sound of their laughter grew louder, as
their troubled homes had left them responsive to the love of God as they struggled
to understand why they were ever born.
At the close of the final
day, Eilenberg offered the simplest demonstration of love — a hug.
He affirmed the children by
telling them how much God loves them.
At first many of the
children were shy when asked if they wanted a hug, but when Eilenberg asked
them to bow their heads and close their eyes, child after child came to the
front to receive the love entailed in a simple hug. The difference a hug can
make was seen on the beaming faces of the children as they walked away from the
Eilenberg then pointed the
children to Jesus and His endless love for them.
With their heads still bowed
and eyes closed, Eilenberg asked children who wanted prayer to raise their
hands where they were seated. Hand after hand was raised in testimony to how
many of them had lived unloved.
During a sermon the Sunday
morning after the Holiday Bible Club, Eilenberg told of one young boy who was
kicking a ball and it bounced over a wall.
Eilenberg jokingly told the
child to go get the ball, and the boy’s response was to look at his feet and
say, “Please don’t hurt me.”
Eilenberg’s passion is to
have hurting children continue to come to Pinetown Baptist where they can begin
to know how beautiful and cherished they are to God and to the people of the
He has a vision of going
into local primary schools to minister to the children while encouraging them
to come to church.
Describing this vision as in
the beginning stages, Eilenberg hopes to continue training youth leaders at
Pinetown to extend the love of Christ to the children throughout its
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Adamson is an intern writer
for the International Mission Board’s global communication team on assignment
in South Africa covering the events, matches and ministries related to the