Many children know an old story called Aladdin, which comes from the Middle East. When he rubs it (because it is a magic lamp!), it speaks, offering to give him anything he wishes.
Aladdin is a poor young man. He is recruited by a witch, who pretends to be the brother of Aladdin's dead father, telling his mother he will make the boy wealthy. The witch tries to use the boy to help him get a magic lamp from a special cave, where Aladdin gets trapped. But the spirit which Aladdin releases from the lamp helps to rescue him, by giving him wishes.
What things would you ask for, if you had a magic lamp like this? Would you wish for money first? Many people would do so. But if they take time to think about their deep needs, they might perhaps ask:
● to be safe from fear and evil, or
● to be loved and feel they are special.
Fear can make us feel pain inside. We can be afraid that bad things will happen in the future, or what other people will think of us. We can fear the hurt that spirits can do to us. People often spend much money on lucky charms, fetishes or offerings to their gods. They hope this will give protection from evil and bad luck. Some people think that there is an angry god (or many gods and spirit powers), always waiting to punish them for any small thing they do wrong.
What about love? People let us down, cheat us, leave us. Maybe our parents did not always show love to us. Some men think it is alright to hit their wives. People do notunderstand the pain we feel inside when we do not feel loved.
Getting our wishes
The good news is – there is someone who will protect us from fear and evil spirits. And we can find the love that makes us know we are special. The person who can give us these things is Jesus Christ. He is not the magic lamp in the children's story, nor is he an angry god that some people fear. He understands our pains and worries. And he is stronger than every evil spirit and curse.
When one girl heard the story of Jesus for the first time, she said, "He is just the sort of God I always thought there must be. Why did no-one tell me about him before?"