'God will never forget your name'

What is a blessing? A blessing is a ‘good word’ (benediction). But not only that! A blessing is much more: It might be a promise, given and received in faith. It carries power – the power of God! The giver of the blessing gives it, convinced that it comes from God and that God will act upon it. The participants of the Zurich Missions Discipleship Training (MDT) Hope for Zurich programme regularly experience the power of giving and receiving blessings in a very special way.

There is always a lot of action when the children meet during their weekly Kids Treff in Schwamendingen, a suburb of Zurich. Children from different nationalities mix with children of Swiss background. Some are well behaved, while others are definitely not; some are downright naughty. Often the MDT team struggles to keep control, and the noise level may become be so high that it becomes impossible to give instructions.

But then, towards the end of the afternoon, the mood changes completely. It is time for the benediction: each child receives a special blessing. The blessings are not ‘off the rack’ but composed by the leaders to reflect the need of each child. Each blessing is different, just as each one of the children is unique. It makes no difference how raucous and rackety the group has been, when the blessings are passed out, everyone sits quietly in anticipation. They listen attentively, making sure that no two blessings are alike.

“You should see the anticipation in the children’s eyes as they wait their turn,” says MDT participant Nora.

This is the moment when each one, irrespective of their ethnic or social backgrounds, receives the full attention of their leader. Eye contact with a leader makes this ceremony very personal indeed.

One boy admonishes his leader, Matthias: “I want a different benediction than last time…!” Children smile. They know they are special.

A little mishap turns into a blessing in itself: A leader, Debi, forgets the name of one of the children she is going to bless. She looks deep in the girl’s eyes and says: “God will never forget your name as I just did!” Then she continues with the blessing: “I will bless you with the assurance that you will always find your home with God!”

It is God’s blessings that bring peace and tranquillity into this group of wild little people.

At the close of each one of these sessions of blessing, an eight-year-old boy always ends with: “Matthias, we bless you also!”