Our friends Brenda and Mike Fukuda wrote this and shared it at HOPE Christian Fellowship Church with all the children brought to the front the Sunday after our friend Praise died. I was really touched by it and they are happy for others to be able to use it as well.
I was thinking the other day about one of my favorite worship songs — the medley that includes “O the wonderful cross!” And I thought about the family and friends of Jesus on that friday – there is NO WAY on that day that they could have ever imagined that at any point in the future anyone would be able to sing about that cross; that day, being anything near wonderful. But God in his way transformed and used the cross, and the consequent resurrection, to bring healing and peace and light. So I need to trust that God can do the same for those who have experienced tremendous loss these past weeks with the death of Praise. I just found out as well that my cousin Bob passed away from cancer. I am praying as well that God will bring meaning and healing through his death, as well.
Here’s the children’s message from the Fukudas:
“Praise, Shines the Light.” for Children’s message. Using a flashlight to illustrate.
I would like to tell you about a special girl who let her light shine. Her name is Praise Goh and God had given Praise a very important job to love children and show them His love. He gave her a special laugh so when she laughed she would shine His light on all the children and they would laugh too. He gave her a special dance so that when she would dance she would shine His light on all the children and they would dance too. He made her to love jumping because He knew the children would want to jump too. And when she would sit down and open up her arms all the children would come to her.
If a child asked, “Praise, why do you love me so?” Praise would tell them the story about how God had given her His light. She would tell of a time when God shone His light on her heart and she saw that it was dark and broken from sin. She said, “God, I have sinned. Forgive my sin. I believe in Jesus and choose to follow him all of my life.” Then His light came and she knew that one day when she died she would be with Him in Heaven forever.
As Praise followed God and loved children, God told Praise about the other children in the world who had no food, no clothes, no home, and worst of all no one to love them or tell them about God’s love. Praise knew she needed to help. One place Praise went to was the Philippines. When she got there she was shocked. The children were not clean, when she held their hands they were sweaty and dirty. They had no food and she saw them looking for food in the gutters. Some were all alone and living on the street. Her heart broke because the children had known such sadness.
But something amazing happened! When Praise began to laugh and shine God’s light on the children, they began to laugh too. When Praise began to dance and shine God’s light on the children, they began to dance too. When Praise jumped, they jumped too. And when Praise sat down and opened up her arms, the children came to her. And if any of them asked, “Why do you love me so?” She would tell them about when God had first given her the light. Praise went home from the Philippines happy. In shining God’s light just as he asked, she found such joy.
Now many of you know Praise and if you didn’t know Praise, I am glad you are here to hear her story. Many of you know that last week Praise died. But Jesus said, “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Because Praise trusted in Christ, she is now living in Heaven with God. In Heaven there is no sadness or pain. The Bible says that, “Jesus is the light and whoever follows him will never walk in darkness.” In Heaven the light from God is so bright that lamps are not needed…not even the light from the sun is needed. The light from Jesus is enough.
Praise is now in heaven with the God she loved with all her heart. She belongs to God, but sometimes we wish she still belonged to us. When someone we love dies, we feel sad and we may cry. It can help to talk to someone you love and trust…like your family or someone at HOPE. There are so many people who love you here. Sometimes you may not cry and that is ok too. You might feel like being alone, or drawing a picture, or doing something special that you used to do with Praise. But no matter how you feel, talk to God. He is always listening and wants to hear from you.
If you knew Praise, you may wonder, “Does Praise remember me?” I am sure she does. She loved you and you are part of her treasure in Heaven. See even more then Praise loved you, God does. I picture him, hugging Praise and saying “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You loved the children I asked you to love.” So when you think of Praise it is ok to cry, to laugh, to dance, to jump…but when you think of Praise always remember to look up and picture her there in Heaven with God. One day, all those who follow Jesus will be in Heaven too.
Now I have 2 surprises for you. The first one is that next Sunday we are going to have a special “Praise Party” in Sunday School. If you would like you will get to draw a picture and we will remember Praise. There will also be special treats brought to your classes. We are getting a jumper and each class will get a chance to jump in the jumper. Praise taught us so much about laughter and love and so we want to do those things together.
I also have a gift for you. When I give each of you your flashlight, I want you to give it to your parents so you won’t lose it at church and they can put your name on it at home. Will you take the light and shine it on your heart? And if you have never done so before say, “God, I have sin. Forgive my sin. I believe in Jesus and choose to follow Him. I want to be part of his forever family.” If you want to pray that talk to me today or talk to your family.
If you already have prayed to follow Jesus, then take the flashlight and say, “Lord how do you want me to shine your light? Just as you called Praise to laugh, dance, jump, and hold the children, how do you want me to shine? Who do you want me to love?