Acts 5:12-42

Age range: early elementary through middle school

Materials Needed:

  • Bible
  • Large wall map of the world

Instruct the kids to sit on the floor in front of you because today we are going to be learning about hardships that the early church has had to endure and how some Christians even today have to endure because of their faith in Jesus. (You may consider reading this article first for some perspective on this topic with young children.)

Say: “As we open our Bibles to the book of Acts, remember that this book tells the stories of the first disciples who followed Jesus establishing the church and how the Holy Spirit empowered them to share the good new of Jesus to the whole world.” (point to the map on the wall)

Say: “Let’s read Acts 5:12-42 about what started happening as people began to believe in Jesus and the church was growing.” (read Acts 5:12-42)

Say: Obeying God can be hard, especially when obeying Him means we might face challenges. But the apostles understood that it was more important to obey God and please Him than it was to obey the religious leaders who wanted them to stop sharing about Jesus. God is more important than anyone, and His way is always best.”

Ask: “In our passage today, how did God show that He is greater than the religious leaders’?” (Let kids share their answers)

Say: “That’s right! God sent His angel to free the apostles in prison and He gave them boldness to keep preaching even after they were beaten and threatened.”

Ask: “Do you think it would be hard to keep sharing the gospel and even rejoice when they were scared that they might go to prison or die if they continued? (let kids share their feelings)

Say: “Even though you might not face prison time for telling others about Jesus, we do face choices of who to listen to every day. Imagine this: you are playing outside with your neighbor friends. Your mom or dad told you not to leave your street and not to go down to the playground a few streets over. But all your neighborhood friends are all going, and they are encouraging you to come too.”

Ask: “In this situation, just like the disciples, you have a choice: to obey your parents or listen to your friends? Which choice is right: obey your parents or listen to your friends?” (let the kids share their answers)

Say: “Sometimes it is hard to know who to obey when you are told to do different things. But the disciples knew what Jesus had told them and even though the religious leaders were saying to do something different, they had a choice to make: to obey God or listen to the religious leaders.”

Ask: “Which would you have chosen?” (let kids share their ideas)

Say: “You and I probably won’t have to consider whether we will go to jail or get beaten up if we obey God over the government of our country today. But there are many places in the world that believers, face these choices every day, even today!”

Ask: “Do you know in which countries Christians today face these kinds of choices every day?” (let kids say answer)

Say: “I’m going to show you a few of the countries where being a Christian is illegal and it is dangerous to tell others about Jesus. While we do that, we are going to pretend that we are Christians in these countries. Scoot in close, because I am going to have to whisper so that nobody knows we are meeting to worship Jesus.” (have kids scoot closer together towards the map)

Say: “Yemen is in the middle east. (point out Yemen) It is a dangerous place to tell people that you believe in Jesus. You might get beaten up like the apostles did if your neighbors knew you believed in Jesus. Everyone, tell your neighbor shhhhh.” (let the kids quietly shh their siblings)

Say: “Eritrea is in Africa, really close to Yemen. (point out Eritrea) It is a dangerous place for Christians. If you are a Chrisitan in Eritrea, you could be put into jail for telling others about Jesus. Everyone scoot in closer and hold hands with your neighbor because the people here are safe.” (have the kids scoot in closer and hold hands with their neighbor)

Say: “Pakistan is in central Asia. (point out Pakistan) If others know that you believe in Jesus and you live in Pakistan, you may find it difficult to find a job. You may be threatened because you believe in Jesus. Everyone, stay quiet and put your arms around the person next to you because these fellow believers are how you and your family are going to eat and live today.” (have kids scoot closer and put their hands on each other’s shoulders)

Say: “North Korea is in Asia. (point out North Korea) North Korea has been the most dangerous place for Christians to live for the past 30 years. Many North Korean Christians are in prison in North Korea today. If your parents are believers in North Korea, you, as their children, may not even know they believe in Jesus! Churches in North Korea meet in the dark and sing so quietly that their neighbors won’t hear them.” (have someone turn off the lights as we wrap up and whisper)

Ask: “Now that we’ve talked about some of the hardest places in the world today to be a Christian, how do you feel about what we read in Acts 5 today? Do you think the believers in these places (point to the map) rejoice in their hardships just like the disciples did in Acts 5?” (let kids share their thoughts)

Ask: “Should you ever stop sharing the good news about Jesus? Why or why not? Even if we are put in jail or beaten up?” (let kids share their ideas)

Say: “Telling others about Jesus is like turning on the light (turn the lights back on): Jesus said He is the light of the world. And Jesus not only commanded His followers in the Bible to share the gospel, but us as well so that others can know the Truth. Even if people make fun of us or tell us to be quiet, we are obeying God when we choose to continue to tell others about Jesus. Today we learned about how there are disciples of Jesus even today who are being threatened, beaten up, and even imprisoned for their faith. Let’s pray for them, and that the Holy Spirit will use them to bring the light of Jesus to those hard places.”

Pray: “God, thank you that you promise to never leave us or forsake us. God, thank you that you are with the Christians in these places we learned about today. God, give them courage, and give me courage to continue to choose to obey you and tell others about Jesus even when it is hard. I know you will protect them like you protected Peter and the disciples in Acts 5. And help me to make choices that honor you by obeying the Holy Spirit in my life, too. Amen”

Download an easy-read PDF copy of this devotional here.

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