It was definitely not a good start for a Bible in Schools lesson.
The classroom teacher was away for the day and by now all the
children knew it. The general unrest that accompanies a relief
teacher was brewing. The bell rang at nine and in walked the
reliever. She barked her way through the roll, sharply reprimanding
a few impish boys who had quickly conspired to swap names. Then
she left to find a television and video player to help keep everyone
occupied for the day, leaving me, the Bible in Schools teacher,
with 33 unsettled children.
The lesson began badly. The chief distraction in the class was
in fine form. He began calling out and refusing to sit when he
was told. He ably managed to set off another group of boys, who
began joining in and ganging up. "Oh Lord," I prayed
silently, "please help. This is the most important lesson
of the year. Surely you wouldn't have your message of salvation
kept from these children by the actions of a few distracters?"
I took a deep breath and carried on. Today's lesson was on the
reasons for the death and resurrection of Christ. Having previously
worked in this class as part of my teacher training, I was well
known to both the children and the classroom teacher. When I
had suggested to the classroom teacher that I return once my teaching
section was over to teach Bible in Schools, she was overjoyed.
The regional co-ordinator had never got back to me with the material
I had to use, so the classroom teacher suggested I just make up
my own. "Teach Bible stories, but don't mention hell and
you'll be okay." So together with my husband Rob I had begun.
We carefully crafted a series of lessons to lead up to this high
point, the death and resurrection of our Saviour. Rob couldn't
make it this particular day as he was teaching in another school,
and now, with a reliever on top of his absence, I was sure that
the opportunity was lost.
I continued on, telling the children that we were going to act
out a courtroom scene together, with myself as judge. I choose
a well behaved volunteer and began. Her crime? Murder! My sentencing?
Life imprisonment! But wait, who was that? I quickly changed
roles and walked in as the redeemer, telling my volunteer murderer
that she could go free. I would take her penalty.
The class had become more and more quiet, and at this point were
completely silent, dumbfounded. They stared at me in amazed stillness
as I explained that that's what my Saviour had done for me. I
was guilty, but he had taken my place. I had become so involved
in the importance of the lesson myself, that I had hardly noticed
the change. But there they were, the group who had been so unsettled
only minutes before, drinking in the message of the Gospel in
absolute silence. "Lord," I breathed, "thank you
for a miracle."
We saw many more blessings in our work last year. We wrote our
own songs to popular Scripture in Song tunes, which the children
greatly enjoyed. The songs were designed to be full of content
and carry the Gospel message by means of the tune long after we
had disappeared from these children's lives. Before one lesson
began, a group of eight girls came to us and asked us if they
could copy the song words down so that they could sing them together
in their own time. Our songs were constantly requested until
at the end of the year one boy said "Don't worry about putting
up the words, we know them off by heart." What a privilege!
As this new school year begins, I would urge those of us who have the time to consider this worthy work. I would give some suggestions which may be of benefit both to yourself and the classroom teacher.
I hope this account and these suggestions will be an encouragement
to some of us to consider this avenue of service.
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Faith in Focus /NZ Reformed Church / email@example.com / revised April 1998 / Copyright 1998