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Bob Goff Shows Kids How to Find Hope and Faith in Their Daily Lives

(The following is an excerpt from “Love Does For Kids,” by Bob Goff)

Our family’s experience making friends all across the world began with some postage stamps—236 stamps, to be exact.

On September 11, 2001, something scary happened in the world. Some people decided to hurt others by making airplanes crash into buildings. I heard the news on the radio on my way to work in the morning, and I immediately turned the car around so I could go tell my kids. You see, our family didn’t have a television, and if anything bad happened in the world, I wanted my kids to hear about it directly from their mom and dad.

Later that night, as we were talking at the dinner table about what had happened, I asked the kids, “If you could speak with a president or a prime minister right now, what would you say?”

The kids thought about it for a minute, and then Lindsey said, “Well, I would want to ask what gives the leader hope, and I would ask what they would say to encourage kids around the world.”

Richard was starting to get interested in making videos, and he said, “I think it would be really cool to make a video of an interview that we could share with other kids.

Then Adam, the youngest, said, “I’d want to invite the presidents and prime ministers to come visit our house, and if they couldn’t make it, maybe we could ask if we could go visit them at their houses!”

By the end of dinner, we’d hatched a plan. The kids decided they would write letters to every single world leader and ask if they could meet with them for a video interview about hope—and then share that message of hope with kids around the world. We’d also invite the leaders over to our house.

Lindsey, Richard, and Adam wrote their letters together. Hundreds and hundreds of them. We looked up the names and addresses of every world leader. The kids ended up writing to every king, queen, prince, princess, president, and prime minister on the planet.

We were wondering if any of the leaders would write back, and do you know what happened? Most of them did! The first letters that came in were very kind, and many included photos and bookmarks. But everyone said no to the kids’ interview idea.

Then, one day, it happened. They got a yes! Eventually, more than twenty-five leaders agreed to meet with the kids.They invited Lindsey, Richard, and Adam to come to their houses, and even said that Sweet Maria and I could come along too. After sending a few more letters back and forth, we scheduled our meetings and got some plane tickets, and the kids were off on their adventure.

As we met with the leaders and made new friends, we noticed that many of them said the same thing: if a grown-up had asked them to meet, the leaders probably would have said no. They said that grown-ups usually show up to meetings with an idea about something they want the leaders to do or not do, instead of just wanting to be friends. When kids ask to be friends, though, that’s really all it is: an invitation for friendship, with nothing expected in return.

Just like the leaders who said they’d meet with our kids, Jesus told His friends that He wanted to spend time with kids too. Kids just like you! One time, when Jesus was surrounded by grown-ups, some kids tried to get close to Jesus and talk to Him. The other grown-ups tried to shoo the kids away, saying that Jesus was too busy for them. But do you know what Jesus said? “Let the kids come to me!”

Jesus told the grown-ups that the new kingdom He was building on Earth isn’t just for adults. Everyone is welcome, of course, but He said kids would be a huge part of what He was doing. In fact, He said that kids seemed to understand a lot of the things He taught better than some of the grown-ups did!

What I learned from my kids and from Jesus is that being friends with someone without expecting anything in return has the power to change the world. Grown-ups sometimes tell kids about all the things they can’t do until they’re older, but we need to remember that Jesus doesn’t just like kids a lot—He wants to use them to teach adults how to have a child like faith.

Whatever your age, you can help people understand how God want us to see the world. He wants us to see it the way a child would.

This book excerpt was featured in the Oct. 7th edition of The Sunday Paper, Maria Shriver’s free weekly newsletter for people with passion and purpose. To get inspiring and informative content like this piece delivered straight to your inbox each Sunday morning, click here to subscribe.