I ended up being in there during the midnight shift, from about 11pm til 4am, and during some of this time I lay on a couch and perused "Red Moon Rising: How 24-7 Prayer is Shaping a Generation" by Peter Greig and Dave Roberts. The book chronicles the movement of the 24-7 prayer rooms around the world from their beginnings in Europe in the mid-90s to now, where every continent in the world is setting aside specific places for full-time prayer. Our shop was one of those places on that night.
Being quite patriotic and not wanting to read the whole book due to the late hour (moreso the latter reason than the former), I flicked through to the two Australian sections. The second chronicled how the 24-7 "movement" (as the book describes it as) came to the Salvation Army in Australia - through a young guy in Bundaberg, Queensland. For those that don't know, Bundaberg is about four hours north of Brisbane, and is famous for it's sugarcane, ginger beer and rum. It's also where my dad spent his late-teens and early-twenties.
Knowing this last piece of information and knowing that he was a Salvo during that time, I asked Dad about this guy - the one who was the first to start the movement in the Australian Salvos. It didn't ring a bell, until I mentioned that the guy was from the Bundaberg Salvation Army, at which point his eyes lit up with recognition. Dad didn't recognise the name for the reasons set out in the book.
He remembered the name as a ten-year-old kid that he'd taught in Sunday School.
It was quite an amazing realisation that this kid that he'd endeavoured to show God to back when he was my age had then gone on to be a part of starting a Christian movement that brought many people to Christ. It led me to think of a few things.
Firstly, who are the kids that I minister going to become? It's an interesting activity to walk into the classroom that I help in and watch the kids interact, and try to work out where they'll be in ten, twenty, thirty years time. It's an even more important activity to actively put into their lives good role models and examples.
Which leads on to the second point - what's the best way to do that? As I think back over my childhood, I realise I was blessed with a whole bunch of older people who just loved me for who I was, and deliberately went out of their way to bless and teach me. They really made me who I am now, and without them, I wouldn't be able to do the same for the kids that surround me.
Thirdly, it's surprising how important a role that mentoring children really is, and yet it doesn't often get mentioned. When we think of important Christians in life, we think of Billy Graham - but do we think of his Sunday School teacher? Paul reminds Timothy in his second letter that Timothy's faith began in his grandmother, which was then passed on to him. Without the mentoring and discipling of Timothy's grandma, and then from Paul, one of the early church's most important leaders may not have even been a Christian, let alone a mover and shaker!
So next time you see a kid running around your knees, stop and spend some time with them, say a prayer, and thank God for who they'll become. It's important, and they're more than worth it.