By Margie Wuebker
"The Lord works through children in a special way," Pastor Randy Christian told The Lord's Church congregation Sunday morning. "I think we're in for a real blessing."
Children, ages 3 to 12, marched down the side aisle for a special service conducted totally by the member's children.
Some wore costumes; others their Sunday best. The youngest waved to their parents and grandparents while the oldest looked straight ahead using the last precious minutes to recall their lines.
Collin Louder, sporting a jeweled crown and regal cape, portrayed King Nebuchaadnezzar, the tyrant responsible for a gold idol standing 90 feet high and 9 feet wide. He summoned people to Babylon, ordering them to fall down and worship the image at the sound of musical instruments.
The 10-year-old paced back and forth delivering his lines with emphasis. He paused at one point as if deep in thought and then continued his dissertation with the slightest hint of a smile. Instead of inspiration from heaven, all he needed was a bit of prompting from the sidelines.
"My favorite part was arguing against the god of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego," Louder said after the service. "The truth is you can't argue against God. He's stronger than Nebuchaadnezzar and all his subjects."
The monarch, upset because the Jewish trio refused to fall down and worship his towering idol, ordered them thrown into a blazing furnace stoked seven times hotter than usual. But the flames had no effect on the men inside the furnace.
A look of total amazement crossed the king's face as he proclaimed, "Look, I see four men walking around in the fire unbound and unharmed and the fourth looks like the Son of God."
Davy Thomas, who portrayed Shadrach, needed no time to contemplate an answer when asked about his favorite part of the production.
"I really liked getting thrown into the fire," he said with excitement. "The flames were not real but that didn't matter. God was there to protect Shadrach and the others from being hurt. They didn't get singed or anything."
According to the Biblical story, Nebuchaadnezzar became a changed man that day, moved by the trio who were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own. He ordered the idol toppled and followers rushed forward. The stage prop of the idol, painted on a length of brown paper, fell to the carpeted floor with a rustle. The actors as well as the adults watching from nearby pews leapt to their feet and cheered.
Louder also delivered the message for the day entitled "Dare to be a Daniel," which recalled the always faithful Daniel surviving a visit to the lions' den with nary a scratch.
"I never knew Daniel but he was a real lucky guy because his God was with him," the boy said again pacing back and forth. "We trust in our God just like Daniel trusted in his God. The power of the lions was really powerful but God's power proved to be the strongest of all."
Continuing the Bible story, Louder left old and young with something to ponder during the coming days. "Daniel prayed three times a day and God heard him. How many times do you pray each day?" he asked.
Silence enveloped the church as the question hit home. Applause erupted from all parts of the congregation. A few like the pastor wiped tears from their cheeks.
Louder proclaimed the time had come to take up the offering as people pulled billfolds from pockets and purses. A look of consternation crossed his face and he then put a hand to his forehead, quickly adding "Forget it. We have to do altar call first and then the offering."
Scripture memorization and songs completed the program. The production went off remarkably well as youngsters stepped over electric cords. The microphone falling from grace on just one occasion. One little girl rushed from her place on the steps to deposit a generous wad of gum into a tissue held by a helper. The 3-year-old ran back to join in a rousing Jesus cheer. Nibbling nervously on freshly painted fingernails -- pale blue to contrast with her blue velvet dress -- she joined in the singing of "This Little Light of Mine" and "Heaven Is a Wonderful Place."
Tricia Christian wrestled with ideas for the youth service but came up empty-handed until she turned on the television one day and heard a line of scripture from Daniel 11:32 -- "They shall know their God and do great exploits."
The pastor's wife admitted a Wednesday night practice left much to be desired after six weeks of work. Thankfully, the hastily scheduled Saturday rehearsal fared much better.
"The Lord works in mysterious ways," she said. "And I sense his presence in each and every one of those beautiful little faces."