Why Intentional Preteen Ministry?

Why Pro-Life?

I am pro-life because I am a surviving victim of a culture that lies about abortion – what should have been my first-born child was a victim who did not survive. Abortion is not pro-woman – we were created to be nurturing and protective of our offspring (as is also evident in the animal kingdom). Abortion is a violent, unnatural intrusion into what was once referred to as the “safety of the womb”, as was plainly portrayed in the movie “Unplanned”. For me, the actual surgical abortion procedure was painful and gut-wrenching – I felt as if life had been sucked out of me (it literally was). Now they send women home with chemical abortions to suffer alone with the resulting intense cramping and bleeding that accompany expelling the tiny dead fetus, as also seen in the film, Unplanned”. How is this pro-woman? Women are told the lie that casual sex brings freedom and empowerment and the increase in sexual activity in our culture set the stage for more crisis pregnancies and has caused women much emotional pain.

Abortion is not always the woman’s choice – I was told by my first husband that if I chose to have our baby, he would leave. Wanting to save our marriage, I went with him to the clinic (he left the following year anyway, soon after our baby would have been born). Even so, I asked the clinic worker before having the abortion if it was a baby because I wouldn’t be able to go through with it if it was – I was told that it was only tissue and blood – not a baby yet. It is time for the truth to be told. My story is only one of many – some are revealed at “Silent No More”. I am not sure if accurate documentation exists, but I have observed that many people strongly committed to the pro-life position are women who have had one or more prior abortions, two I have met who were unable to have another child. “Feminists for Life” says it well: “Women deserve better than abortion – abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women”. The idea that to be pro-woman is to be pro-abortion is just not true.

The clarion call that the developing embryo or fetus is part of a woman’s body is debunked by biological science:

To begin with, scientifically something very radical occurs between the processes of gametogenesis and fertilization the change from a simple part of one human being (i.e., a sperm) and a simple part of another human being (i.e., an oocyte usually referred to as an “ovum” or “egg”), which simply possess “human life”, to a new, genetically unique, newly existing, individual, whole living human being (a single-cell embryonic human zygote). That is, upon fertilization, parts of human beings have actually been transformed into something very different from what they were before; they have been changed into a single, whole human being. During the process of fertilization, the sperm and the oocyte cease to exist as such, and a new human being is produced.”

Basic human embryological facts from article, “When do Human beings Begin?: Scientific Myths and Scientific Facts” – by Dianne N. Irving, M.A., Ph.D., (copyright Feb 1999) in journal, “International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy” 1999, 19:3/4:22-36 for “Princeton”.

Human development in the womb in the first ten weeks after fertilization:

  • “The cardiovascular system is the first major system to function. At about 22 days after conception the child’s heart begins to circulate his own blood, unique to that of his mother’s, and his heartbeat can be detected on ultrasound.
  • At just six weeks, the child’s eyes and eye lids, nose, mouth, and tongue have formed.
  • Electrical brain activity can be detected at six or seven weeks, and by the end of the eighth week, the child, now known scientifically as a “fetus,” has developed all of his organs and bodily structures.
  • By ten weeks after conception the child can make bodily movements.”

Points above are from article, “The Best Pro-Life Arguments for Secular Audiences” By Rob Schwarzwalder for “Family Research Council” (FRC); references are given there.

Abortion is a money-making business as revealed in Carol Everett‘s book, “Blood Money: Getting Rich Off a Woman’s Right to Choose”, and “The Scarlet Lady: Confessions of a Successful Abortionist”. Many of today’s feminists and media outlets have been convinced that abortion is somehow a Constitutional “right“, but the same FRC article referenced above “cites a long and growing list of prominent “pro-choice” legal commentators who call Roe v. Wade indefensible”; references for the quotes below are in the article:

“The late John Hart Ely of Yale, for instance, argued that Roe was wrong ‘because it is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.’; The law clerk of Justice Blackmun, the Justice who authored the Roe v. Wade opinion, calls it ‘one of the most intellectually suspect constitutional decisions of the modern era.’; The Washington Post’s legal editor says it has ‘a deep legitimacy problem.’; Even Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been critical of Roe, saying that it ‘ventured too far in the change it ordered and presented an incomplete justification for its action’ and that the Roe decision was ‘not the way courts generally work’.”.

from article, “The Best Pro-Life Arguments for Secular Audiences” – by Rob Schwarzwalder of “Family Research Council” (FRC); quote references are in article.

The public was misled in the arguments for legalizing abortion.This is clear from the articles, “Jane Roe Tells True Story Behind Roe v Wade” – by Dave Andrusko for “National Right to Life News” and “The Pro-Life Legacy of Norma McCorvey, the ‘Roe’ of Roe v. Wade” – by Katrina Trinko for the “Daily Signal”.

I remember when abortion supporters told the public that abortion should be “safe, legal, & rare” and they have regularly used terms that devalue the humanity of the child – “clump of tissue”, “not a baby yet”, “product of conception”, “terminate a pregnancy”, etc. Many of the talking points leading up to legalized abortion were exaggerated or untrue as discussed in article, “Does Legalizing Abortion Stop Filthy, Back-Alley Abortions?” – by Brian Clowes, Ph.D. for “Human Life International”; Since abortion was legalized in 1973, Jason Noble confirmed in his article for the “Des Moines Register” that 50 million babies have been aborted in the U.S. – is that rare?

“92% of abortions in America are purely elective — done on healthy women to end the lives of healthy children.”

from same FRC article above; breakdown listed there: Lawrence B. Finer et al., 113-14.

Radical feminists today equate women’s rights with unfettered access to abortion until (and now even after) birth. Imagine how shocked America’s first feminists would be with that based on their own views about abortion:

It [abortion] is also at odds with the views of America’s first feminists, all of whom opposed abortion. Chief among them were ‘Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who not only led the fight for the right of women to own property, to vote, and obtain equal education, but also spoke out against abortion. Susan B. Anthony’s newspaper, ‘The Revolution’, called abortion ‘child murder’ and ‘infanticide’.”; quotes given in FRC article references d below, but sources are “The Revolution”, April 9, 1868, “The Revolution“, July 8, 1869, & Susan B. Anthony, “The Revolution”, July 8, 1869.

from article, “The Best Pro-Life Arguments for Secular Audiences” – by Rob Schwarzwalder of “Family Research Council” (FRC); quote references are in article.

An unintended reality of the legality and promotion of abortion is that it has encouraged men and family members to avoid responsibility and embarrassment by pressuring women to have abortions. Another side of this is the very real issue of dads, grandparents, & other family members who have had no voice when a woman chooses to abort. There is no cultural support for those dealing with that kind of grief (or for the women who experience grief from a prior abortion) outside of pregnancy care centers. Sharon Osborne’s quote from “Focus on the Family” site:

I had an abortion at 17 and it was the worst thing I ever did. … I was two months gone when I realized. I went to my mum and she said, without pausing for breath: ‘You have to get rid of it.’ She told me where the clinic was and then virtually pushed me off. She was so angry. She said I’d gotten myself in this mess, now she had to get me out. But she didn’t come. I went alone. I was terrified. It was full of other young girls, and we were all terrified and looking at each other and nobody was saying a bloody word. I howled my way through it, and it was horrible. I would never recommend it to anyone because it comes back to haunt you. When I tried to have children, I lost three — I think it was because something happened to my cervix during the abortion. After three miscarriages, they had to put a stitch in it.”  

Sharon Osborne (TV personality and wife of Ozzy Osborne) in Sharon Unxpurgated, (Dec 18, 2004, Associated Newspapers, Ltd)

Some women share they have not been negatively affected by their abortion(s). The after-effects of my first-trimester abortion were not realized for years, but there were definitely negative consequences – I just did not know they were related. My sub-conscious awareness kicked in when I was pregnant with my second child and read about child development in the womb. I had already experienced unexplained and deep-seated guilt and feelings of unworthiness that presented itself in relationships, but those became more intense and I developed a deep sadness that I could not explain.

With the birth of that child, I suffered a 6-month period of depression with overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy in being a mom, which prevented me from bonding with my baby. When she was 5 and my younger child was 2, God answered me as I cried out to Him because of the problems in my 2nd marriage. As a result, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and began reading the Bible. I realized that He considered every life precious and considered the taking of an innocent life an abomination. My intent had been to be a good mom to my kids, so facing the fact that I had taken the life of one of them and deprived my children of their older sibling caused me to be overcome with grief and regret. I asked for and received God’s amazing mercy and forgiveness. That was a huge turning point in my life. It wasn’t until a few more years that I discovered the emotional harm my firstborn had suffered from the lack of bonding.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.”

2 Corinthians 5:17

“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

Romans 8:1

To truly help women and to offer them a choice other than abortion as a viable option, our culture should support pregnancy care centers across the nation. They offer the truth about abortion methods and fetal development as well as emotional and practical support before and after the baby’s birth. All of their services are free made possible by donations – emotional support, parenting classes, maternity clothes, baby clothes & supplies, healing post-abortion studies. referrals for adoption,& more. Allowing a loving adoptive family to parent the child provides the birth mother with the peace of knowing she gave life to her child. I know numerous people who have been unable to bear children and have adopted or hope to adopt.

I am overwhelmed by God’s mercy and grace that He has forgiven me even though His Word says that the taking of an innocent life is an abomination to Him. I found complete freedom through taking a post-abortion study and am now prepared to lead one so other post-abortive women can also find freedom. If you have an abortion in your past, please consider taking a study in your area. It is emotionally challenging, but God’s supernatural healing and peace are so worth it, as Jesus tells us:

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:32

© Constance Rice 2019

How Do We Know What is True?

Humans have a deep-seated desire to know what is true. Otherwise, why would we get upset and feel betrayed when someone lies to us? It’s easy for us to to rationalize and justify our thoughts, actions, speech, and attitudes and our natural tendency is to develop opinions based on what we hear, see, read, and experience. So how can we know what is really true?

FIRST, we should define truth. Starting with the actual meaning of words is important to mutual understanding. My personal favorite dictionary resource is Noah Webster’s 1828 Webster’s Dictionary. This momentous task took him 28 years and he learned 26 languages in the process [reference]. Wow! That level of determination and scholarship is not common in our culture today.

“Language is the expression of ideas; and if the people of one country cannot preserve an identity of ideas, they cannot retain an identity of language.”

from Noah Webster’s preface in his 1828 Dictionary

How thorough Webster was is evident in his definition of truth:

1. Conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be. The truth of history constitutes its whole value. We rely on the truth of the scriptural prophecies. My mouth shall speak truth Proverbs 8:7. Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth John 17:17.

2. True state of facts or things. The duty of a court of justice is to discover the truth. Witnesses are sworn to declare the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

3. Conformity of words to thoughts, which is called moral truth. Shall truth fail to keep her word?

4. Veracity; purity from falsehood; practice of speaking truth; habitual disposition to speak truth; as when we say, a man is a man of truth.

5. Correct opinion.

6. Fidelity; constancy. The thoughts of past pleasure and truth.

7. Honesty; virtue. It must appear that malice bears down truth.

8. Exactness; conformity to rule. Plows, to go true, depend much on the truth of the iron work. [Not in use.]

9. Real fact of just principle; real state of things. There are innumerable truths with which we are not acquainted.

10. Sincerity. God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth John 4:23.

11. The truth of God, is His veracity and faithfulness. Psalms 71:22. Or His revealed will. I have walked in thy truth Psalms 26:3.

12. Jesus Christ is called the truth John 14.

For a more recent definition of truth, the following is from dictionary.com

TRUTH:

  1. The true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.
  2. Conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
  3. A verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like: mathematical truths.
  4. The state or character of being true.
  5. Actuality or actual existence.
  6. An obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude.

SECOND, we should recognize that truth and reality differ from perception and that all of us have preconceptions that affect the way we look at the world (our worldview). In recent years, some have adopted the philosophy that there is no absolute truth and that truth is an individual concept and different for different people. We all have our own perceptions, as evidenced by having been misunderstood or having misunderstood someone else. However, that is not the same as each person having their own truth, which has been termed “relativism”. Truth by its very nature is exclusive and different people cannot have their own truth if what one person holds to be true is opposite to that of someone else. This is evidenced by the “Law of Contradiction”, one of the rules of logic.

“Absolute truth” is defined by “All About Philosophy” as “inflexible reality: fixed, invariable, unalterable facts. For example, it is a fixed, invariable, unalterable fact that there are absolutely no square circles and there are absolutely no round squares”. The whole article is helpful. Another helpful article is:

“Is there such a thing as absolute truth / universal truth?” – by “Got Questions”.

THIRD, where does the concept of absolute truth come from?:

It comes from God through His revealed Word, the Bible. Some will immediately reject and scoff at this because of preconceived opinions, but please consider that God did not have to reveal Himself to us and gives each of us the freedom to choose whether or not we accept the truth He gave us. However, like all choices, there are consequences and this choice carries with it eternal consequences – so deserves to be carefully considered.

“I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek Me in vain.’ I, the LORD, speak the truth; I declare what is right.”

Isaiah 45:19

Not only did God choose to speak into human lives and has preserved His Word through countless attacks over thousands of years, but God also loved us so much that He provided a rescue plan through the voluntary sacrificial death of Jesus Christ to pay for our sins – knowing that we can never be good enough before a holy God. How much more could He have done to show His love for us?

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

“Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’? Woe to the one who says to a father, ‘What have you begotten?’ or to a mother, ‘What have you brought to birth’?’ This is what the LORD says – the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: ‘Concerning things to come, do you question Me about My children, or give Me orders about the work of My hands? It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it’.”

Isaiah 45:9-12a

“Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: ‘Should you not fear Me?’ declares the LORD. ‘Should you not tremble in My presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it.’ But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away. They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the LORD our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest’. Your wrongdoings have kept these away; your sins have deprived you of good.”

Jeremiah 5:21-25

If we genuinely seek what is true, then also consider the words of Jesus:

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’.”

John 14:6

IN CONCLUSION, if we honestly want to know what is true, we must first seek God through His revealed Word and by humbly asking Him. When I cried out to God, He met me right there. How we respond to His absolute truth is also up to us, but when we align our opinions with God’s and submit to His guidance, it gives us access to His promises and the peace, strength, and joy that this world cannot provide. It only offers counterfeits. Our Creator patiently waits for us to figure out that His plan for our lives is better than anything we could come up with. However, this world is still broken – but through Christ, we have the hope of heaven after this difficult life is over, where there will be no evil, no pain, no sickness, & will wipe away every tear.

“He only can be esteemed really and permanently happy, who enjoys peace of mind in the favor of God.”

Noah Webster

“The Bible must be considered as the great source of all the truth by which men are to be guided in government as well as in all social transactions.”

Noah Webster

“No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people… When I speak of the Christian religion as the basis of government… I mean the primitive Christianity in its simplicity as taught by Christ and His apostles, consisting of a belief in the being, perfections, and government of God; in the revelation of His will to men, as their supreme rule of action; in man’s… accountability to God for His conduct in this life; and in the indispensable obligation of all men to yield entire obedience to God’s commands in the moral law and the Gospel.”

Noah Webster

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.”

2 Chronicles 16:9

© 2019 Constance Rice

Why Intentional Preteen Ministry?

Over the last 27 + years that I have served the Lord in children’s ministry, God has shown me how critical it is to be intentional about ministry to preteens. What decades ago became apparent to church leaders and parents regarding teen ministry now needs to be apparent to church leaders and parents regarding preteens.  Preteens are capable of abstract thought and can understand adult concepts.  They are internally questioning everything they’ve been taught.  It is the ideal time to reinforce their Bible knowledge with answers about why God’s Word can be trusted in every aspect of their lives, to build deeper relationships with peers, leaders, and parents, and to make their faith their own.

Apologist Josh McDowell in a 2013 “Christian Post” article said, “Twenty years ago, the phrase was, ‘If you don’t reach a young person by 18, you probably won’t reach them.  Now, atheists and agnostics have the same access to your kids as you do; it’s just one click away. The Internet has leveled the playing field, and now if you don’t reach a child by their 12th birthday, you won’t reach them.”.

2 Timothy 3:14-15 says:  “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”.

Use It or Lose It!  Kids may lose their early spiritual foundation if it is not used and reinforced.  “The Journal of Adolescent Health” states that “Throughout childhood and into adolescence, the cortical areas of the brain continue to thicken as neural connections proliferate. In the frontal cortex, gray matter volumes peak at approximately 11 years of age in girls and 12 years of age in boys, reflecting dendritic overproduction. Subsequently, rarely used connections are selectively pruned making the brain more efficient by allowing it to change structurally in response to the demands of the environment.”

Preteens are in a time of transition in every aspect of their lives!  At this age, transition is the key factor.  Preteens do not feel like kids and are not yet teens because they are in transition physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, and spiritually.  What many children’s ministry leaders feel is disruption to their class is actually a huge opportunity for the church to meet the spiritual needs of preteens at arguably, the most critical time in their lives.

1 Peter 3:15 teaches, But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.”.

An effective preteen ministry should include:

  • a focus on apologetic teaching in an engaging, fun, and interactive way so students get excited about their faith, make their faith their own, and become equipped to effectively engage those who believe differently.  Areas to be addressed would include:  
    • how to interpret Scripture for themselves (context, grammar, etc.)
    • who God is (attributes/character) & correcting common misconceptions.
    • how recent scientific discoveries support the Flood and biblical teaching (biology,  zoology, genetics, geology, astronomy, archaeology, etc.).
    • how Jesus is found in the whole Bible from Creation and how He fulfills the elements of the Tabernacle.
    • what it means to follow Jesus (how to tap into supernatural joy, peace, strength, grace, wisdom, and how testing and trials build a mature faith).
    • how Christianity differs from all other religions and finding common ground to begin conversations.
    • how God has worked through ordinary people since the beginning of human history and how this is their time in history.
    • how God has gifted them to serve Him and others.
    • about spiritual warfare and how to be victorious.
    • events for fun and to serve God & others and deepen peer relationships:  
    • serving food together at local senior center.
    • ice skating, trampoline park, mini golf, go-carts, hiking, movie and/or game night, scavenger hunt, etc.
    • helping at local food bank.
    • preteens helping together at events already offered to local community.
    • preteens planning, praying for, & implementing a fun night for younger kids with leaders available to encourage and support.
    • create way for preteens to help together at existing church events.
    • provide training for preteens to serve on a kids’ worship team, with tech needs, in classes with younger kids, with setup or cleanup needs, as part of a greeting team, etc.
  • a team of committed leaders who will build relationships with them, leaders who: 
    • love Jesus and Scripture.
    • grasp God’s vision for investing in the next generation.
    • can enjoy students who are in a time of transition in their lives, creating an atmosphere  where students feel love and acceptance and have a place to belong – even when they are silly, squirmy, or blurt out answers or questions.
    • recognize parents as the primary spiritual leaders and actively partner with them for the benefit of the kids.
    • lead a weekly life group or Bible study for preteens, giving students a place to belong with game & hang-out time, deeper teachings, interactive discussion/questions, and prayer time.
    • are available to organize, host, and/or attend preteen events on a regular basis (scroll up for ideas).
    • provide opportunity for a panel of elders & church leaders to answer questions from preteens.
    • provide opportunities for preteens to hear from missionaries.
    • partner with youth leaders and parents to facilitate smooth transition to youth ministry.

In praying for God to show me why so many kids who grew up in the church were leaving as young adults or sooner and in seeing their excitement when I shared with them what I was learning about recent scientific evidence that supported the biblical account, the importance of equipping kids to have answers before they enter youth group became clear to me.  Our culture is changing rapidly.  The time is now to meet the needs of preteens by equipping them with the knowledge and confidence to stand firm in their faith and by preparing them to engage their world with the life-saving eternal message of hope through the sacrifice and victory of Jesus Christ.

© Constance Rice 2018