Every Wednesday night Gary drives the church van to pick up children for Bible class. When the children put on special programs like they did last Wednesday night, several parents and grandparents come, too.
First, some devoted ladies feed the children supper — every week. Then they join adults upstairs for a devotional, Then they go to classes. We have a special class for the preschool children and Nate teaches another special class for the teenage boys, but the rest of the children go to the church library for a class with Mary Evelyn. Mary Evelyn’s class has children from kindergarten through age thirteen or so. Ray and I go along for crowd control and to take care of our grandchildren Clara (4) and Wesley (almost 2) so they can be in class with their mama. We often have one or two other adult helpers, too.
Like all children, each child in our building on Wednesday nights is unique. Even though I usually only see these children once a week, their uniqueness is obvious. Let me introduce you to a few of them with names changed, of course. There’s Jason who is about nine, is almost always moving, and must be a real handful at school. In the devotional in the auditorium it isn’t unusual to see him move from one pew to another — maybe one several rows away. In class we let him wander around. When the other children come to the front of the room to show off their art work, Jason is likely to be standing beside Mary Evelyn “helping.” When scraps of paper need to be thrown away, Jason is the one with the trash can, going from seat to seat. When Jason first came two or three years ago, he was very angry, but even then he was the kind of kid that you just wanted to put your arms around and squeeze. Now he’s learned to channel some of that fidgetyness into “helping” kids show off their art work and picking up the trash.
Tonight there was a new boy, Landon. Mary Evelyn told the story of when Jesus told the disciples to go out into the deep water for a catch of fish. Peter tried to tell Jesus that they had already fished all night and caught nothing, but he went out there anyway since Jesus said to. You remember what happened. Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. They didn’t come home empty-boated that time! They caught so many fish that their nets began to break and they called for help. Peter was so impressed with what he saw that he told Jesus: “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” Jesus told Peter, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”
At this point, Mary Evelyn had a few helpers hand out paper, crayons, and scissors. She told the children to draw a fish, write his or her name on the fish, and cut them out to hang on the wall. She explained what it meant to be “catching men.” She said that we would put the fish up on the wall to represent Jesus catching them.
Now, back to Landon . . . He drew a small fish, but when it was time to go in front of the class to show everyone before he put it on the wall, he was too shy to come. Another child showed it for him.
Our little Wesley put lots of pretty brown squiggly lines on the fish I drew for him. Then he very proudly went in front of the class to show off his like the other children.
Mary Evelyn had drawn a few fish on the chalkboard to give the children some ideas about how to draw fish. Our little Clara drew a fish exactly like one of the ones her mother had drawn — even drawing each feature in the order her mama had drawn them. That just might give you the idea that your children are watching you, huh? Clara’s and Wesley’s looked amazingly like this one that has been on my refrigerator for months and months. Way back then, Clara’s mama had drawn it for her and she was the one adding squiggly lines.
Now, I’d like you to meet Hope. Hope is always quiet. Her brow is often furrowed. Her face is usually sad. I’ve been noticing something about Hope recently. When she has a pencil or chalk or a crayon in her hand, she is creating something amazing. I wish you could have seen Mary Evelyn’s face when Hope took her fish to the front of the room last night. It was beautifully detailed with colorful scales.
I’ve noticed something else about Hope. She is not only good at creating art. She loves it.
Every child deserves the time and the resources to do what they do well and what they love to do. I’m glad your children have you to give that gift to them.
Do you see a man skilled in his work?
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before obscure men.