"Nothing is impossible for God" - Manie Loubser, General Manager, Petra South Africa, tells how in 1989 Petra Founder, Johan du Preez felt called to start a Children's Institute. He asked a financial adviser to estimate the costs. After the adviser had done the calculations, he said to Johan, "You cannot possibly think of going on with this. After five years you will need at least (South African Rand) R500 000 per year (approx £28 000) and it has to come from donations. How will you get it after such a short time?" Johan answered, "With God, nothing is impossible!" By 1994 CET (the name Petra had originally) had raised income of (SA Rand) R984 138 (approx£55 000), almost double of what seemed "impossible".
Rev Sheryl Grunwald, Canada, trained mentor of Petra Institue for Children's Ministry, who works as the International Training Director of Kidzana, in Canada - She tells of how a pastor's heart was changed:
“I was asked to teach a very intensive training course to final year theological students at a seminary in Cameroon. Whenever I work with pastors, I am always a little bit nervous because they have many thoughts about the church and children do not factor very high in that. So I prayed about what I should teach and it was really impressed upon me that I should teach them the Word of God with regard to children.
On the first day we only looked at Christ's example and how Jesus valued children and taught about them. I let the pastors discover for themselves what God was saying. That afternoon I sent them out just to observe children. Throughout the week, they could not stop talking about what they were discovering about children and the Word of God.
On the last day of the class I said to them that I do not expect them to become children’s workers, but all of them have children in their churches.
One of them confessed and said that he thought that children could not understand spiritual things, and maybe only when they are 16, 17 years old. His perspective on children has changed so much during the course that he realizes that the children in his church do understand spiritual things. He also said “You changed my life. My ministry will never be the same again.” A year later, I was back in Cameroon at an event, and this same man came to me, saying, “My church is different because of what I have heard last year.”
Evangelist Gabriel Beinde, Chad, Africa, trained mentor of Petra Institute for Children's Ministry, and a trainer in children's ministry - He tells the story of what happened in a war situation when children started praying:
“I thank God for allowing me to come for training at Petra Institute in 2007. When I went back home to Chad after the course, I could not do much as a result of the war. In 2008, I tried to mobilize some churches and to send letters to the churches to ask the children to come together as a body of Christ from different denominations to pray for the country on the 16th June, which is African Child Day. I know that God can work through children. However, during this time, the rebels were approaching N’Djamena and people started fleeing, taking their families across the border into Cameroon, some were going to the southern part of Chad. I decided I will stay. On the 16th of June, many people started calling me, asking, ‘Gabriel is it still possible for the children to pray, because the rebels are coming?’ I said ‘Yes, it will be possible, even if the rebels are in N’Djamena; we are going to pray because now we want to use children as a focus to see how God can hear their prayers.’
So, I praise God, because that day we came together and it really mobilized the parents to come with their children, keeping their cars ready if the rebels would come, they would take their children across the border. I told them God can do something. The children came together and worshipped God and wonderful thing happened. God sent rain that prevented the rebels from coming into N’Djamena. Through that they went back to Sudan.
God uses little ones to transform and use them as instruments to stop the rebels to come to N’Djamena. God can use children all over Africa because we are going through difficulty, through wars and poverty, but God hear the little ones’ cries and brings peace and change into our Africa."
Sybil Boloyi, Trained Mentor of Petra Institute for Children's Ministry, now working in Mocambique - "There was a boy by the name of Sergio. His mother died giving birth to him. His father married his mother’s sister who brought up Sergio. At the age of 10, his second mom plus 8 other family members got killed by rebels during the war. Sergio said this was very bad and he felt that he was not worth having a mom. Life was a burden for Sergio and he cried most of the time – it was not easy for him to smile. Sergio started attending a children’s club held by Sybil, and from that day on, his life changed. During the club, Sybil taught the kids the Prayer of Serenity by Reinhold Niebuhr. Sergio decided this is what he should do. His life changed. Today, Sergio is a young man in Christ, with hope and joy in his heart."
(*Please kindly note in the story above R600 000 (South African Rand) is the equivalent of approx £34 000)