Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Lord Answers Prayer

For those of you who were praying for my girls in the fourth grade, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart! I had been searching my mind for a few weeks. I knew that there was discontent and strife between some of the girls in my class. Some were down right rude, but it was done in such a way that it went under my radar. All I knew is that I sensed it in my spirit and the Lord was prompting me to do something. The "something" is what I wasn't sure about.

Two weeks ago, the fourth grade was in charge of the skit and message for elementary chapel. I had my class do a modern twist on the Good Samaritan parable taught by Jesus. Our play was placed in NYC and it went over very well with all the kids in chapel. Afterwards, I talked about the fruit of the Spirit called kindness and goodness.

I illustrated this message with a story about my mother, Judy, and a girl she knew at the children's home that Judy's father directed, let's call her "Minnie". Minnie and Judy's relationship has always been a strained one, but early on it was very difficult. My mother had about one hundred "adopted" brothers and sisters at a given time. Minnie was one of these "sisters".

I don't know the hurt in Minnie's life but I do know that she let it out on many of her peers. She decided to let that anger out on my mother. She told all the girls in the children's home to shun my mother. No one could play or talk to my mother. Minnie was a very convincing girl. People did not cross her, especially since she had stabbed a girl clean through her hand with a sharpened pencil!

Well, my mom purposed in her heart that she would just heap loving-kindness on Minnie's head. No matter how unkind Minnie was towards Judy, Judy would just love on Minnie at every chance she could get. Minnie came to my mom one day and infuriatingly asked why she was being so nice to her when she was being so mean back. My mother just replied that Jesus loved her and she loved her too. Well, eventually the shunning came to an end and slowly but surely Minnie gave her heart to Christ and became more kind.

I was hoping this story would hit some heartstrings of some of my girls. Well on Friday the 25th, I read I Corinthians 12 about how we are all part of the body and how each part cannot do without the other. I also spoke to the class about how if you hurt one Christian you are hurting the whole body of Christ because he is the head. You are not an individual Christian all by yourself. I saw some wide-eyes at that point. I could tell that the Holy Spirit was revealing a new idea to some hearts.

I asked the entire class to think about who they might have hurt throughout the year. I also asked them to think about those who had harbored bad feelings against people. Then I instructed them to write out a letter to God asking for forgiveness for those actions or thoughts.

The kids really responded well, boys and girls! Most started writing furiously. I had many that asked me if they could talk to others privately and ask forgiveness. I gave them that time. After about thirty minutes of asking for forgiveness one to another we got in a circle and prayed as a group, squeezing hands to signal who was next. I had many fourth graders ask for forgiveness from God out loud in the group. It was a powerful moment. The kids then threw their letters into the a garbage bag and everyone had a chance to stomp on the garbage bag. We then got on our coats and sang as we trekked to the dumpster, "If the devil doesn't like it he can sit on a Tack...I'm so happy, so very happy. I've got the love of Jesus in my heart..." We counted to three and threw the garbage bag into the dumpster and everyone cheered and clapped! It was absolutely amazing!

Throughout the day, boys and girls went to each other and were continuing to ask forgiveness of each other. I told them at the end of the day that I was so happy about how God had worked in their lives today and how we should always remember this time. I also told them that Satan doesn't like it when Christians have unity and now Satan would tempt them to act in wrong ways. We are not perfect and we can make mistakes, but we need to ask God each and every day to help us choose His love.
We prayed one last time and they went home with a note to parents of what miraculous event happened at school that day.

I got a few thank-yous and responses from parents this week. One parent replied that she thought it was the best lesson the fourth grade has learned this year. I couldn't agree with her more, especially since it was orchestrated by the Holy Spirit!

This week has shown trials for some of my students, but I provided an opportunity this past Friday, Feb. 1st. I started Bible with the idea of how God doesn't always show us all the anger or all the sin that we need to deal with or give to Him all at once. He reveals to us what He needs to work on in us little by little. I had some more kids that needed to go to one another and repent and ask forgiveness again. Others wrote letters asking God to show them areas that they couldn't see themselves that He needed to work on. I think I will need to do this every couple of weeks. So I have a new discipleship goal for my students. I am trying to give them accountability for their actions and guidance for how to take those steps as Christians living day by day. Thank you Lord, for your direction in their lives and mine!