The Power of Imitation

05/03/13

As a parent of two boys, ages seven and eleven, I often see glimpses of God’s goodness, playfulness, and His heart through the expressions and actions of my sons. Most evenings, when I come home from my office at Children of the Nations (COTN), I have no idea what activity or imaginary world I’ll encounter. 

 
Just a few days ago, I stepped through the door and heard the unmistakable sounds of a ski boat in my living room and someone yelling, “Hit it!” As I walked around the corner I was nearly run over by a “water-skier” and his “boat”—which was actually my younger son holding onto his brother’s arms while dragging him around the wood floors of our home. The water-skiers continued to let their imaginations run wild for the next hour, taking jumps and splashing around on the floor as if they were in some extreme water sport competition. 
 
Jeff and his family
                                                                             Jeff and his family.
 
As I tucked my children into bed that night, I told my boys the story of another boy I had met who, like them, imitated someone that fascinated him. 
 
In the summer of 2008 I traveled to the Dominican Republic with my first Venture Team. We were visiting Altagracia, a small Haitian immigrant community where COTN ministers through a Village Partnership Program.
 
There were many children and teenagers present the day we arrived, but one in particular caught my eye. Claudio was standing with a group of teenagers, observing our team. He was dressed in blue and white medical scrubs, like those of a physician, with his hands neatly placed in the front pockets of his shirt.  Just the sight of him made me curious, so I had to learn more. 
 
Jeff and Claudio in 2008
                           Jeff and Claudio in 2008, when they first met and Claudio shared why he wore scrubs. 
 
That afternoon I was treated to a rare experience. As Claudio and I walked through his village, he shared his story, his passion, and the reason why he was wearing those scrubs. 
 
“I’m practicing,” he said and then he smiled, “I’m practicing to become a doctor one day and I believe if I practice looking and acting like a doctor, then one day my dream will come true.” 
 
Children are children wherever you go. It makes no difference whether a child is from one country or another, rich or poor. Their social status makes no difference  when they’re “playing house” or pretending to hit a home run in the big game— they’re always ready to imitate what they see around them. 
 
Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” 
 
Children are pleased to imitate their family members—especially their parents—in what is good, particularly when they know that they belong and are deeply loved.  The same is true for those of us who consider ourselves children of God. Since we are God’s children, it should delight us to resemble Him—especially in His love and goodness, and in His mercy and eagerness to forgive. 
 
As you consider your partnership with COTN, take some time to reflect on this truth: Because of your partnership with COTN, you allow children to dream. Were it not for you, our ministry could not exist, nor model the love of Christ to thousands of children worldwide.
 
Yet, you have partnered with us! And COTN children, like Claudio, have observed your Christ-like actions and are ready to imitate. That is a magnificent gift.  
 
So today, as you go about your daily routines, remember to be imitators of God, since you are dearly loved. And watch out for water-skiers and doctors.  You may just be the reason why they dare to dream. 
 
Today, Claudio is studying to become a doctor through COTN's university program.
Today, thanks to his sponsors, Claudio is studying to become a doctor through COTN's university program. He lives with his wife, Johanny, who is also in COTN's university program and studying to become a dentist, and newborn son, Matthew. 
 
You can give a child the chance to dream. Sponsor a child today!