Bethel International United Methodist Church
Complete Story


Suffer the Little Children to Come Unto Me

Jesus' Familiar Words Take on New Meaning in Belize

Santoya ChildrenI want our "Team of 23" to face Jesus' famous expression in the context of some of the most beautiful children in the world here in Belize. The expression "suffer the little children" is found only in the King James Version of the Bible (Matt 19:14, Mark 10:14, and Luke 18:16).

As we play with orphanage children who have so few personal possessions. As we visit children in their homes of stark poverty. As we hear gut-wrenching stories of neglect and abuse. We are moved with how Jesus would want "suffering" little children to come into the center of his circle of teaching to show that in their innocence and trust and searching eyes of love we see glimpses of what the kingdom of God is like.

That to mistreat and mislead those precious ones he has blessed is the pronouncement of "suffering" to those entrusted with their care (Matt 18:6 and Luke 17:2).

We pulled away from a shack-like home yesterday after praying with the guarded mother and her three little ones who were hanging on her. We had just delivered specially-prepared bags of flour, powdered milk, rice, and beans. We had just brought them to our vans to fit them in shoes and clothing, to pass out many other fun items like Beanie Babies. We had just played with them, hugged them, and passionately offered Christ blessings and protection and hope.

Those smiles. Those adoring eyes. Those tender voices of continual "thank you." Those hands waving and waving and waving at us as we pulled away, all the while wrapped around their mother will forever both haunt us and give renewed purpose to our lives in Christ.

Intellectually, we know that the words "Suffer the little children to come unto me" simply means "Let the little children come to me" in the Old English style of the KJV. Yet, "suffering" takes on an entirely different meaning in a culture where the kingdom of God appears all around us.