First Grader Asks About Man ‘Hanging on That Wood’
Mission teacher Suzann Self finds that children in Canada have never heard about Jesus.
Little Slade raised his hand in the middle of the first-grade math lesson.
“Teacher, who is that Man?” he said, pointing to a picture on the classroom wall. “Why is He hanging on that wood?”
The question surprised Suzann Self, 47, who teaches first grade at Mamawi Atosketan Native School in the Canadian province of Alberta. She thought that everybody knew Jesus and would recognize a picture of Him hanging on the cross.
“That’s Jesus,” she said.
Slade looked confused. He had never heard of Jesus.
Suzann prayed silently. “Thank you, God, for this opportunity to teach this young boy about You,” she prayed. “This is the first time that Slade has heard about You, and he is curious. Give me the right words to say.”
She took a deep breath. She would have to stop the math lesson to explain why Jesus was hanging on the piece of wood. Suzann asked the children to close their books and pay attention.
“It started with Adam and Eve,” she said. “God created Adam and Eve in a beautiful place called the Garden of Eden. But our first parents disobeyed God, and they had to leave the garden. Because they disobeyed, we have many problems in the world.”
Slade and the other children listened intently.
“But God loved Adam and Eve, and He loves us, and He wants us to be happy,” the teacher said. “We are His children, and He wants more than anything for us to be in heaven with Him one day.”
To make that possible, she said, God had to send his Son, Jesus, to Earth to die for our sins. Suzann told how Jesus was born and grew up.
“Then Jesus died on that wood because he wants us to be in heaven,” she said.
Slade asked many more questions about Jesus that school year. He came back to the school for second grade, but then he disappeared. Suzann doesn’t know what happened to him. But she said she was glad that she had been able to share the story of Jesus with him in the first grade.
“Even though we seem to have churches on every corner in North America, this boy only learned about Jesus in our school,” she said. “I realized that time is really, really precious because we don’t know from day to day how long children will be here. Many children change homes throughout the year. They might study in the school for only three months, six months, or a year and then leave. I pray every day that God will being children here who need to hear about Him.”
A Singing Girl
Another child in Suzann’s first-grade class is Brianna. Her mother noticed something unusual happen when Brianna started first grade. No one needed an alarm clock any longer at home.
Brianna used to get up quietly in the morning and get ready for school. But now, the whole house knows when Brianna is awake. As soon as she wakes up, she opens her mouth and begins to sing loudly.
“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so,” she sings.
Mother is delighted. She loves to hear the sweet voice of her little girl singing praises to God.
One day, she told Suzann that things aren’t the same at home any more.
“I love your school,” she said. “Every morning my little girl wakes up and fills the house with praises to God.”
Suzann learned that Brianna began singing at home because she sings at school every day. Every morning, Suzann leads the children in singing songs for worship. The first graders love singing, and they always ask, “Can we sing one more song? Just one more song?”
Suzann was happy that the children wanted to sing at school, but she didn’t know that they also were singing at home.
“That made me realize that a lot of what happens at school goes home,” she said.
Suzann Self talking about how her conversation with Slade affected her outlook on teaching. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)
Part of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering in second quarter 2018 will help the school grow bigger so it can teach more children like Slade about Jesus and more children like Brianna to sing for Jesus. Thank you for your mission offerings.