I run the nursery, and I absolutely love running the nursery. Not because my Mommy heart just loves taking care of babies. Not because I'm good at it. No, I do it for another reason.
By the age of 2, a child has developed all of their personality and spirituality that they will ever have. Now, as they grow, their personalities bloom further, but it's set in stone by 2, until they reach the age of consciously changing their inner selves. Spirituality on the other hand can either continue to flourish or it can be diminished. But by the age of 2, the "flame" of their spirituality has developed.
This is why I do the nursery. No, they don't retain a thing I teach. And no, they don't respond and act like they understand. That doesn't matter- when they are surrounded by the knowledge of God, when they are presented with the grace of God, and when they are told the story of God- their spirituality is developing.
And then they turn 3 and this happens:
Yesterday one of my 3 year old students came into class. During free play, she approached a group of about 4 of her friends in the classroom. She began to recite the fruits of the spirit. In her little voice she says "and yet I tell you, these are the fruits of the spirit...". It was very heart warming.
But then the students began to laugh at her. As she continued to try and recite her scripture, they would keep laughing and pointing at her. She got upset and said "Why are you laughing? This isn't funny! I'm trying to tell you the fruits of the spirit- this is God's word! Stop laughing, this is the truth!". My heart broke for her, but I didn't interfere. I continued watching at a distance.
She finally became frustrated at their laughing and ran to me to tattle on them, not knowing I saw the whole event. "I'm trying to tell them about God and they just keep laughing at me, and it's not funny, it's true! Why are they laughing?". I held her close and held in my tears.
Gently, I replied "Not everybody goes home and hears the words of God, they laugh because they don't understand. Did you know when Jesus was alive, he would tell people about God and they would laugh at him too. But that didn't stop him- he kept telling them about God, even when they laughed at him.". She pondered this and went on to play.
Today she comes in, pulls out her memory verse she is working on, and goes straight to the same group of kids. She says "It's okay if you laugh because you might not understand, but I need to tell you the truth. 'The Lord is our Shepherd'". They laughed a little bit, but a few minutes later after I greeted more children and turned my attention back to that particular group, one of the other girls was looking at the memory verse sheet and saying "So God died on the cross so we can live...".
And sometimes I wonder, if we could be as bold as 3 year olds....