Today we will visit the largest city in Côte d’ Ivoire [Cote duh VWAR]. [Locate on map.]. There lives 10-year-old Eli-Ann. Not long ago she faced a big temptation.
It all began one morning at breakfast. As Eli-Ann ate her boiled rice with a little sugar on it, Mother said, “Your exams start today, don’t they?”
“Yes,” Eli-Ann replied. “I’ve studied hard, but I know that the tests will be hard. Teacher told us that people from the government will be there to make sure nobody cheats.”
“Do your best,” Mother replied. “Your uncle and I will stay near the school and pray for you all day as you write your exams.”
“Thank you,” Eli-Ann said. “It will make me happy to know you are near. When we get our break between exams, I’ll be able to run out and tell you how I’m doing.”
As Eli-Ann’s mother and uncle walked to school with her that morning, they encouraged her with God’s promises. “You’ll do well, Eli-Ann,” her uncle said. “We will ask Jesus to help you remember the things you have studied all year.”
Eli-Ann said goodbye to her mother and uncle and walked across the schoolyard. She stopped at the door and turned to wave. Jesus, help me to do my very best for You today, she prayed silently.
When the school bell rang, the children sat up straight and listened to the teacher’s instructions. When the teacher said “Go,” the children began their exams. The government inspectors walked around the room making sure the students didn’t have any notes with them.
One of the inspectors stopped by Eli-Ann’s desk. “You’ve spelled that word wrong,” he whispered to her. Then he began telling her how to spell it correctly.
Eli-Ann looked up at the inspector in surprise. “I won’t tell anyone,” he said.
“No, thank you, sir,” Eli-Ann replied. “I don’t want to cheat. By God’s grace I would rather fail this exam than to cheat!”
The examiner frowned and walked on. I hope he doesn’t get mad and fail me, Eli-Ann thought. But I know that I did what is right!
When that exam ended, the teacher let the children go outside for a short break. Eli-Ann ran to where her mother and uncle sat under a large shade tree. “I’m sure glad that one is finished!” Eli-Ann exclaimed.
“Was it really hard?” Mother asked.
“Yes, it was,” Eli-Ann admitted. “I misspelled a hard word, and one of the inspectors told me how to spell it. I told him that I’d rather fail than cheat. I don’t think he was very happy with me.”
“You did the right thing,” her uncle said.
“Don’t worry, sweetheart,” her mother assured her. “God will bless you for being honest.”
“I sure hope you’re right,” Eli-Ann said as she turned to go back inside for the next exam.
A few days later the results arrived, and Eli-Ann had passed. She squealed and clapped her hands.
“You not only passed,” Mother said. “You earned high marks! God has honored you for your faithfulness.”
“I want to thank Jesus for helping me do well,” Eli-Ann suggested.
Eli-Ann and Mother knelt down. “Dear Jesus,” Mother said, “thank You for helping Eli-Ann do so well. Thank You for helping her to do what was right when the inspector tempted her to cheat.” Eli-Ann thanked God too for His help during the tests. Then Mother hugged Eli-Ann and whispered, “I’m so proud of you, and I know Jesus is, too.”
Boys and girls, we can be lights for Jesus in everything we say and do. We can be kind when someone says bad things. We can smile and be cheerful, even when we don’t feel like it. We can tell others about God’s love for them, and we can give our mission offerings so that children and grown-ups around the world will know that Jesus loves them and wants them to give their hearts to Him. Let’s bring our offerings now as we pray for the people in West-Central Africa who need to learn that Jesus really does care for them.
[Close with prayer.]