Often American-focused discussion about ethnic differences gets narrowed to just Black or African Americans and White Americans. It is fairly understandable, given US history, that we’d focus so much attention on black and white relations. My hope for God’s Very Good Idea, however, is that it would encourage all people made in the image of God to celebrate the differences in each other. God’s word says that we will be rejoicing with every tribe, tongue, and nation for eternity. That’s why I’m thrilled to share with you where you can find God’s Very Good Idea around the world. (Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. Click on the link below the country to find God’s Very Good Idea)
The majority of the time, open letters are meant as a critique. This is not that. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t even come close. Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect in greater ways on the labors of those who are working in children’s ministry: church, camps, and beyond. I have always served in children’s ministry, though much less over the past three years than ever before, but it’s been a part of my ministry work since becoming a Christian. It wasn’t until writing and releasing God’s Very Good Idea, however, that the weight of what you do week after week fully hit me.
I’ve never met a children’s ministry worker who wasn’t aware of the privilege of his/her job. Now this doesn’t mean they aren’t out there, but most of the people I’ve interacted with are eager and excited to share the Word with the little hearts and minds entrusted to their care. You, friend, are not a glorified babysitter. The work you do has significant impact on the kingdom. It is no small thing. Each lesson, coloring page, prayer huddle, and diaper change is helping children learn either about Jesus or about the effect of the Spirit in one’s life that would cause them to serve others above themselves.
As someone who has ministered to mostly adults, especially over the last few years, there can be times when we see the effects of our ministry immediately. This is not always the case, mind you, but often after I’ve given a talk or written an article, I get to speak with and hear from people immediately, read a comment or twitter response, or glance through a Facebook encouragement. While this doesn’t always happen, but it occurs often enough to spur me on to the next step of faith in writing or speaking.
You and I don’t often see these immediate evidences of God’s grace. I remember meeting with my editor, Carl Laferton, and he said to me, “You won’t get to see the effect of God’s Very Good Idea until the new creation. It will be brilliant.” I’m paraphrasing my British friend here, but in short, he was kindly reminding me that my little book could have eternal significance that I simply won’t and can’t fully know until we’re in Heaven. My faith was built! Similarly, many of the kids you work with may not be able to fully articulate how your teaching is affecting their heart. They may move to another church or they may even become a prodigal…but then return because of the faithfulness of God and how he used you in their past. You may never know. But you should know that your work in not in vain. We plant seeds, God waters and makes them grow. He promises to finish the good work he begins in little hearts and he will surely do it.
A Gift to Parents
And, finally, what a gift to parents you are. You do not replace the impact or influence of parents, nor would you desire to. But you do help us parents continue to plant the seeds, and you help us to engage in further conversations. And perhaps for some children you really are the only place where they hear and see the gospel being proclaimed. In a world where families can have a look of perfection, we often don’t know what’s lingering behind closed doors. Your words and actions could be God-ordained balm to the soul of that young image bearer.
So, thank you! Thank you for your service, sacrifice, and love of children. Keep going. Your work is a gift of God’s grace to the Church.
If I could give God’s Very Good Idea away to everyone I know, I would. I want to…and this post is a reflection of that desire. So, if you are a children’s ministry worker or if you’d like to “nominate” a children’s ministry worker, please simply tag them in Instagram or on Facebook or make a comment here. I will choose five winners to each receive three copies of God’s Very Good Idea to use for their ministry.
Simply comment below or tag your nominee to my Facebook page or Instagram. Giveaway ends at noon on Friday, Oct. 6.
Can’t wait to give these away!
A special thank you to The Good Book Company for this awesome giveaway! Thank you also to Carl Laferton, my editor, who graciously said YES to this project!
Last Wednesday evening was a night I’ll never forget and I’m excited to share with you about it.
The evening started with worship and then I had the opportunity to read God’s Very Good Idea to a swarm of attentive, inquisitive, wiggly kids ranging in age from 2 months to 12 years old. The parents and attendees listened in as I read, and then everyone had a chance to learn about Barefoot Republic, a ministry to kids in the Nashville area.
The night continued with an insightful and helpful panel discussion and included Ray Ortlund, Isaac Adams, Catherine Parks, and myself. In our conversation, we tackled topics ranging from learning to have deeper empathy to history. It was an honest, heartfelt, and oh so hopeful discussion.
I’d do an evening like this over and over again if the Lord allowed. It was a real joy.
You can watch the whole night here:
Duplicating the Evening
Since the evening last week, I was asked to duplicate the event the night before a women’s retreat that I’ll be speaking at in central Missouri this spring. I’m honored to do this and thought that you might be interested in learning more about how to duplicate a night like this at your church.
First, all of the details of the event can be found at godsverygoodidea.com. While the flow of the evening was simple, the time would not at all have been possible without the great staff and volunteers of the church.
The night included:
Worship (two songs)
A reading of God’s Very Good Idea
A panel discussion
If you’d like to find out more about how I might visit your church for a God’s Very Good Idea event or if it’s something you’d like to do on your own in your church and you’d be interested in purchasing bulk copies of God’s Very Good Idea, please contact me via my contact page here: http://www.trillianewbell.com/contact/
Special Thank You to:
The Good Book Company, who sponsored the event and are the awesome publishers of God’s Very Good Idea. I’m forever grateful for and to you. Thank you specifically to Brad Byrd who organized the event, handled so many of the details and came out to make sure everything ran smoothly. You are a gift!
Barefoot Republic: Thank you for your presence at the event and for helping us learn more about your wonderful ministry to kids of all backgrounds.
The Panelists and Worship Leaders: Isaac Adams, Catherine Parks, and Taylor Agan. Thank you for making the night so special, for sharing your gifts with us, and for your wisdom and insight. You are a humble bunch for which I am grateful.
Ray Ortlund and Immanuel Nashville: Ray, you are incredibly kind and generous. That would be enough, but you are also a gospel ninja and you love (love!!) people so well. It shines through your every word and action. Thank you! And Immanuel Nashville—wow, just wow! Thank you for organizing volunteers, staffing, hosting, and blessing all who came. I’m overwhelmed by your generosity!!
How can I adequately thank people for allowing my words into their homes and Children’s Ministries? I still can’t figure out how to fully do it. But regardless, here’s a heartfelt attempt: Thank you!
With every picture of a mom reading to her child, a dad pointing out the pictures to his son, a friend with a group of children, a homeschooling parent teaching a morning lesson, a Sunday school class drawing pictures from it, and even a college gal who read God’s Very Good Idea to her roommates…each and every example is an answer to my prayer that God might use this book despite of me and in ways I couldn’t even imagine. So, thank you for sharing your homes and classrooms with me. Thank you for engaging with family, friends, and neighbors. Every day I’ve prayed for the kids who will encounter these pages. And I’ve also prayed for wisdom and joy as us big kids explain what the concepts in the book mean to little minds. Thank you for celebrating God’s very good idea to create many different people for His glory and our collective good.
Want to help spread the word?
If you’ve enjoyed God’s Very Good Idea and would like others to know about it, here are a few things you can do (and I’d be so honored if you’d share!!):
Share on social media. Here’s a sample tweet and/or facebook post:
God’s Very Good Idea, a new children’s book by @trillianewbell is out now! http://amzn.to/2wA0LFm
Write a review. If you’ve read God’s Very Good Idea, I’d love it if you wrote a short review. Reviewscan be found posted on the following retailer sites:
To sum it all up: Thank you for your incredible support, encouragement, and the answer to prayer for how this book is being used. I’d be so grateful for your help in spreading the word, writing a review, and praying for the Lord to continue to use God’s Very Good Idea!
A children’s book comes alive when it’s coupled with an inspiring, creative, and imaginative illustrator. The Good Book Company partnered with Catalina Echeverri to illustrate God’s Very Good Idea and it was a very good idea! It was a joy to work alongside her and her brilliant artwork, which brought my words to life. What a joy it is for me to introduce you to her today. Not only is she creative, she also loves Jesus and loves people.
Q: Tell us a little bit about you. Where are you from?
Catalina: I am originally from Bogota, Colombia. But I left home when I was 18 to study abroad and have lived in many different cities and places since. I have loved getting to know each culture and each way of life. I think that is probably the reason why I’ve enjoyed this project so much. Because I feel like there’s a little bit of each country I’ve lived in and the people I’ve met throughout all these years.
Catalina with her church in Italy during the summer outreach events for kids
When did you decide you wanted to be an illustrator?
I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember. My parents say to me that as long as I had a pencil in my hand and a piece of paper, I was a contented little girl! But somehow I ended up venturing into graphic design in my university degree and so abandoned drawing for a bit. Then when I became a Christian while studying university in Italy I got involved with summer camps and Sunday School Activities. They needed someone to do big pictures for the songs that they where going to sing in the park and so I thought, hey why not? This is a great opportunity to get back to drawing, after all, I missed it so much! And that was it. That’s when I realised drawing for children was the thing I wanted to do! So I applied for a Masters in Children’s Book Illustration and the only two courses available at the time were in Barcelona and in Cambridge. I applied for both and got admitted to Cambridge School of Arts. And well…here I am drawing for little ones : )
Very first thumbnails of “God’s Very Good Idea”.
How did you decide what direction to go in God’s Very Good Idea?
When I think of diversity I think of an explosion of colours, and that is pretty much what drove the concept of this book, lots and lots of colours! Also, something that distinguishes this book from the rest of the series is the fact that it is set in the present but draws from the Biblical narrative. So representing this felt almost like a double narrative that needed to be unfolded visually. This is where the speech bubble idea came in.
Do you have a favorite character (besides Jesus) in God’s Very Good Idea? If so, who and why?
Mmm that is a tough one! I think more than a favourite character, I have a favourite page, and that is the one where the little girl is imagining what heaven will be like. Growing up I always thought heaven would be the most boring place possible, with people in white robes floating on fluffy clouds and just playing the harp. But when I became a Christian, I learned that is not the case AT ALL. Heaven will have all the best bits of this world except with no corruption or sadness. It will be a place of utter joy and delight. AND the best bit of all is that we will finally meet Jesus and enjoy His company forever. And that is why this picture means so much to me. I look forward to it so much!
What is your hope for the book?
I hope this picturebook helps children and their parents to realise that the fact that we are all different from each other both inside and out is not a bad thing but a great thing! God did not make one type of person, or one type of bird, or flower. But millions of different kinds and shapes! Unlike birds and flowers, people are the same–all made in the image of God–but we are unique.All of them are equally special and valuable to Him. He did this because He is amazingly creative, and we should celebrate our diversity and rejoice in what He has made!
More about Catalina:
Hello there! My name is Catalina Echeverri and I am originally from Bogota, Colombia. I have a background in graphic design from the Accademia di Comunicazione (Milan, Italy) and an MA in Children’s Book Illustration from Cambridge School of Arts (Anglia Ruskin University).
I love to draw and all of the time, and take my little sketchbook everywhere I go. Especially when I travel! Find her at http://cataecheverri.com
Today is an exciting day…it’s the official release day of God’s Very Good Idea!
God’s Very Good Idea is ultimately an invitation to celebrate. Catalina, the book’s amazing illustrator, and I want to help children celebrate our wonderful Creator God, the amazing value God has given each person through being made in his image, and the rescuing work of Jesus on the cross.
God’s ‘very good idea’ is to have lots of different people enjoying loving him and loving each other. The book retells the big sweep of the Bible’s story—from the garden of Eden to God’s heavenly throne room—to show how, despite our sinfulness, everyone can be a part of God’s very good idea through the saving work of Christ. My hope is that the book will excite kids (and parents!) about God’s delightfully different family!
I invite you to watch this short book trailer highlighting my heart for parents, kids, and sharing the message of the book:
and anywhere Christian books can be purchased (independent Christian stores)
Here’s what others have to say about God’s Very Good Idea:
This book is not only a good idea to read as a family, it’s a delightfully great way to be part of God’s good idea! With vibrant illustrations that dance, and rich, wise words that point to the most beautiful Truths and Truth Himself, this is a book that could change our families, the church, this generation. –Ann Voskamp, New York Times bestselling author of One Thousand Gifts and The Broken Way
God’s Very Good Idea is a beautiful book, both in its pictures and in its faithful gospel lessons on what it means for all of us to be made in God’s image. This work will shape young minds and hearts to love others and the Creator whose image we all bear. –Russell Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; author of Onward
I will hang onto this book in the hope that I can some day read it to my grandchildren. –Tim Challies, Author and blogger
Why didn’t someone write this book decades ago? A gentle and delightful introduction to a crucial topic. –Jonathan Leeman, Author and father of four
As a mom of six young bi-racial sons, I’m so very grateful for Trillia’s beautiful and joy-filled account of God’s design and purpose in creating us all uniquely. –Ruth Chou Simons, Artist and author of GraceLaced; founder of gracelaced.com
God-centered, clear, and helpful. I highly recommend this book. –Blair Linne, Spoken-word artist
This book is a treasure and a joy for our family. –Aaron and Jamie Ivey, Musician, and host of The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast
Touching and beautiful, this will engage kids and their parents too! –Nancy Guthrie, Bible teacher and author
Young and old alike should read this story often. –Kristie Anyabwile, pastor’s wife, mom, Bible teacher, writer.
Compelling and captivating.-Champ Thornton, Author of The Radical Book for Kids
What a great resource to share with the next generation. –Gloria Furman, Author of Missional Motherhood and Alive in Him
A delight. Cuddle up with a little one and share the news of God’s very good idea. –Melissa Kruger, Author of Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood