t started at a camp meeting years ago. Bill Johnsson, then editor of the Adventist Review, was making the round of summertime camp meeting appointments. At the Southern New England Conference event, a woman approached him with a unique request. She asked him if the Review would consider creating a special publication uniquely for children. Sure there were great Sabbath school papers, but what about creating an Adventist Review for kids?
Johnsson took the idea home and let it percolate. It was tough to start a new venture with budgets and staffing already stretched. But soon, the day finally arrived when plans for an Adventist Review for kids took shape. Gathering together the dynamic trio of staff members Kimberly Luste Maran, Merle Poirier, and former assistant editor Bonita Joyner Shields, Johnsson entrusted them with an amazing task: bring this dream of a new kids’ publication to life.
Maran, Poirier, and Shields melded into a force to be reckoned with. As they brainstormed, nurtured creative ideas, and tweaked draft after draft, they did so with an eye toward a common vision: To create a publication just for kids that would connect them to Jesus, the Adventist Review, and to the Adventist Church.
It wasn’t for lack of great children’s content within the denomination—for it certainly existed, and it wasn’t just to please those who thought an Adventist Review for kids was a clever idea. “If you want a church to grow,” says Johnsson, “have great children’s programs.”
KidsView, born just in 2002, was created because children matter to Christ. And they certainly matter to us, as they should. “Kids are so important,” adds Johnsson, “right now and for the future. They are God’s gift to the church.”
If our children aren’t nurtured in their faith now, if they are not taught from an early age that they belong to a church that loves them and needs them, and if we don’t realize that kids in this denomination deserve our full attention, our future is bleak.
Jesus and Kids
As a child, I really enjoyed—and still do—the short tale of Christ’s reaction to the children who were brought to be blessed by Him. It’s not a particularly detailed story, but Jesus’ treatment of the children said it all. “People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth; anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it’” (Mark 10:13-15).
Scripture shows us that Christ’s special heart for children was extended to anyone who could capture the essence of childhood—the essence of simple faith. The Gospel says: “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure’” (Luke 10:21). Though the passage doesn’t refer to actual children, but to the Father’s view of the disciples as little children, that word choice gives us a clue as to the value Christ placed on little ones.
Kids, in Christ’s plan, are not meant to be ignored.
And that is why KidsView exists.
This Is Who We Are and This Is What We Do
Packed each month with stories, devotionals, news, activities, puzzles, student writing samples, missionary tales, Adventist heritage, and a special themed kids’ calendar, the magazine, just a year ago, doubled in size from its original four pages to eight—all full color. In addition, the little journal, once only available stitched inside the last monthly issue of the Adventist Review, can now be ordered as a stand-alone publication. But even more significant is the new distribution of KidsView to every grade 3-6 classroom in Adventist elementary schools throughout the North American Division (NAD). This latest development, implemented in August of this current school year (2008), has been made possible largely by the partnerships we have forged with the NAD Department of Education, the White Estate, and the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission. And if that isn’t exciting enough, we’ve also finally launched our own Web site, which features selected material from the print version of the magazine as well as exclusive Web-only content, such as a special column from a partner, It Is Written’s “My Place With Jesus.”
Each of our partners has joined forces with KidsView for many reasons. But the pervasive theme is an enthusiastic devotion to children and seeing them become dedicated disciples of Jesus Christ.
Larry Blackmer, vice president for education of the North American Division, has a special heart for kids. As he says, “Students are the only reason Adventist education exists.
“We exist only to help young people know Jesus better and to inculcate Adventist values in our young people in an atmosphere of love and in a quality learning environment,” he adds.
Partnering with KidsView has been one of the many ways NAD education seeks to enhance the lives of children. “Together, we are much stronger than any of us independently. The Adventist Review [and KidsView] have been extremely supportive of the ministry of Adventist education and is a perfect vehicle to help us distribute and strengthen our goals,” says Blackmer.
Debra Fryson, NAD associate director for elementary education, says, “The most important thing is that our children understand how much Jesus loves them and that they learn to have a relationship with Him. We also want our children to understand their mission as Seventh-day Adventists to share God’s love with others. KidsView is a tool to help accomplish these goals.”
One of the most exciting components of KidsView’s recent expansion is the opportunity for our partners to share their areas of expertise, so to speak. NAD education works with schools division-wide to provide us with student writing samples. In addition, the White Estate and Office of Adventist Mission give our readers glimpses into Adventist heritage and the world of international missionary service—both areas that Adventist kids aren’t always familiar with these days.
“The first reason we were eager to partner with the Adventist Review and to support KidsView is because Jesus loves children, and so do we!” says Cindy Tutsch, an associate director of the White Estate. “One facet of our ministry is to promote Adventist heritage. We think it’s important for children to know about their spiritual roots, including Ellen White and other intrepid early Adventists. [Our] contribution to KidsView is one way that we can help children benefit from their Adventist heritage.”
Fellow partner Nancy Kyte, marketing director for the Office of Adventist Mission, adds: “In a nutshell, we wanted to be involved with KidsView because we felt it was the best way we could reach the most kids on a regular basis.” Regarding why kids mean so much to her organization, Kyte shares specific goals. “We want kids to know that the church has a long tradition of mission service and that mission service is still a worthy career option.” In addition, Kyte says, “We want kids to know that they are part of a global church family and that they don’t have to wait until they are grown up to be involved.”
Our partnerships with these entities are also extensions of ministry. It Is Written and My Place With Jesus' Jean Boonstra says: “Kids are the next generation of believers. We want them to know and understand why they are Christians and, more important, we want to help them fall in love with Jesus. A child who knows Jesus’ love and accepts His plan for their life is better equipped to face the world and the future.”
KidsView Is for Kids (and Kids at Heart)
One of the most satisfying things about my work with KidsView is hearing from kids themselves. In the early days â€¨of the publication we regularly hosted advisory boards comprising only children to hear directly from them—their wants and needs for the magazine. Now that we are planted in classrooms, we enjoy using that connection to keep in touch with our kids in an effort to make the magazine exactly what our readers want it to be.
Shawnae, a fourth grader from Florida, shared her thoughts about KidsView: “First, KidsView inspires me. One time I read about a beautiful waterfall visited by a girl on a spiritual adventure. She was truly amazed to see all the wonderful and magnificent things God could do through the waterfall. I was inspired by this story. In addition, KidsView teaches me new information. KidsView gets me ‘hyped’ and excited just learning new things.” Shawnae’s response is just one of many we have received in recent months (see sidebar on page 20). And hearing from children, educators, and parents alike only reinforces our belief that ministering to children through this magazine is so vitally important.
Where We’d Like to Go
To see KidsView well received throughout the North American Division’s schools is a dream come true. In fact, at the time of this writing I had the opportunity to visit with several children from the Collegedale, Tennessee, area. I was so pleased to pull out copies of KidsView and hear all the kids say, “Oh yeah, we got that copy last week.” It was also very encouraging to note their parents’ familiarity with the magazine too!
But oh, the dreams we have for KidsView! How great would it be if KidsView were available to all Adventist children—especially those not enrolled in Adventist schools or those homeschooled! And let’s not forget our precious international friends. How wonderful would it be if we could send KidsView to Adventist elementary schools and churches around the world, printed in different languages?
Every child belonging to this body of believers must have the same opportunities to have their faith in Jesus nurtured and reinforced. These children all deserve the chance to know that they matter greatly to the 160-year-old Adventist Review and that they are the future of this church. Our prayer is that KidsView will go far and wide to make those dreams a reality (see sidebar on this page).
We pray that KidsView will be here for our kids for a long time to come. In the end, all that matters is that our kids choose Jesus and give their lives to Him for eternity. If they make a decision for Jesus—special Friend to children—what more could any of us possibly ask for?
Wilona Karimabadi is marketing and editorial director for KidsView. Check out KidsView's blog by clicking here.