NEW LENOX – “Why did God make mosquitoes to suck my blood?”
Because every creature needs something to eat in order to live, was the Rev. Dave Hedlin’s ready answer.
Kids, to paraphrase the late Art Linkletter, ask Hedlin the darnedest questions about God. And Hedlin, pastor at Peace Lutheran Church in New Lenox, loves answering them. So Hedlin made it easier.
First, Hedlin instituted a question box inside the church and dedicated the third weekend each month to answering them. Two years ago and with the help of a committee, Hedlin published “Questions Kids Ask About God” with art students from Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210 illustrating it.
Among the 22 questions asked in the 32-page book are How old is God? Did Jesus really have long hair and a beard? What is heaven? Does God watch us all the time?
This year, Hedlin and his committee published a companion coloring book. The books, Hedlin said, make great Christmas gifts for children.
“Kids in church need to know their questions count. This is really important to me because some people grow up in a church atmosphere where you don’t ask any questions,” Hedlin said. “Second, the books are an outreach tool. We know there are many different families today where no one goes to church.”
Eric Sperstad, a member at Peace Lutheran Church, headed up the five-person publishing committee, a role he felt was a true ministerial calling. In an email, Sperstad said “Questions Kids Ask About God” is now in its third printing. Besides the coloring book, the church recently ordered 10,000 bookmarks.
The books are published through QKA Publishing Co., which the committee created and which is affiliated with Peace Lutheran Church. Sperstad feels the project impacted everyone who worked on it, including the printers.
“This is what I call the spirit of God at work,” Sperstad said in the email.
The project effects children in several significant ways. Proceeds from “Questions Kids Ask About God” go to two organizations that help children: Lutheran World Relief and Feed My Starving Children.
Since the books’ publication, Hedlin said, the church has sold 2,500 copies of “Questions Kids Ask About God” to customers in all 50 states – and even a few foreign countries – and donated $4,000 each to the two charities.
The coloring book has sold more than 1,000 copies, with one church in Springfield ordering 200 to give away at a community event, Hedlin said. Kids at Peace Lutheran Church continue to submit questions and Hedlin continues to answer them on the third weekend of each month.
“Sometimes we have so many questions, we do the fourth weekend, too,” Hedlin said.
Taking the time to explain spiritual matters to children is far preferable, Hedlin said, to the experience one grandfather shared. When the grandfather’s son was a teen, he posed a question to his pastor and received this answer: “Sit down; shut up.”
The teen, Hedlin said, never returned to church. The grandfather bought the book for his son’s children.
“We know the answers in [the books] don’t match everyone’s theology,” Hedlin said. “But, nevertheless, the situation it raises helps the kids know their questions count.”