Once upon a time not very long ago I attended a camp meeting on an island far, far away. I spent time with the little children and taught them to sing many Sabbath School songs. One they especially liked was [encourage children to sing with you] “Here is the way we walk to church, walk to church, walk to church. Here is the way we walk to church, every Sabbath morning.”*
On Sabbath morning a boy ran to the church and beat on the bamboo log, dob, dob, dob-dob-dob, dob-ba, dob, dob. And the boys and girls came running to Sabbath School. They were dressed in their best clothes. They lined up outside the church and marched in singing, “Here is the way we walk to church, walk to church, walk to church. Here is the way we walk to church, every Sabbath morning.”
Then I noticed that every boy and girl carried a big sweet potato in their hands. I thought, What are these children going to do with those sweet potatoes? You see, I had seen children eating sweet potatoes for their breakfast every morning. Then I thought, So you think you’re going to eat your breakfast in Sabbath School, do you? Well, if I see someone eating a sweet potato in Sabbath School, I’ll just take it away. That’s what I’ll do!
All through song service I watched the children, to see if any of them would eat their sweet potatoes. But they didn’t. They just held them quietly in their hands.
Throughout the program the children sat quietly, holding their sweet potatoes. When it was time for prayer, they knelt down. And as soon as the leader said amen, the children got up from their knees and sat down. I looked to see if any of the children were eating their sweet potatoes. But they weren’t. They just held them quietly in their hands.
Then it was my turn to tell the mission story. I told them about Mimi, a little girl in Burma who wore devil charms in her nose and in her ears and around her neck and around her wrists and around her stomach and around her ankles. And the children just loved it!
When I sat down, I looked to see if any of the children were eating their sweet potatoes. But they just kept holding them quietly in their hands.
Then the leader said, “Has anyone brought an offering this morning?”
And the children answered, “I have!”
How could they have offerings? I wondered. They didn’t have any money. The leader didn’t notice what I was thinking. She just asked Titus and Maria to take up the offering. The children went behind a table and picked up two big buckets.
Buckets! I thought, Whatever are they going to do with those buckets? Then Titus and Maria held out their buckets while the little children dropped their sweet potatoes into the buckets with a plunk, plunk, plunk, plunk!
So that was it! They weren’t going to eat the sweet potatoes in Sabbath School at all! Their sweet potatoes were their offering!
Soon Titus stood in front of me waiting for my offering. But I didn’t have a sweet potato. All I had was a dollar bill. I dropped it into the bucket, but it didn’t go plunk! I was so disappointed!
If ever I go to another camp meeting on that island in the South Pacific, I’m going to buy the biggest sweet potato I can find. Then I’ll take my sweet potato to Sabbath School, and when the offering bucket comes, I’ll drop my sweet potato in so I can hear it go PLUNK!
I think Jesus loves to hear those sweet potatoes dropping just as much as He loves to hear our offering dropping into the offering basket, don’t you?
* Sabbath Songs for Tiny Tots, Cradle Roll, no. 18. If your children know this song, encourage them to sing it with you.
This story by Eric B. Hare has been edited to fit the space available. You can hear the full story—and many other stories by Eric B. Hare—on CDs available from Adventist Book Centers or from the Pacific Press website, www.PacificPress.com. Used and adapted with permission, Pacific Press Publishing Association.