08/08/09: A Sabbath School in Action
“Like the first is the second commandment – ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Matthew 22:39. The law of love calls for the devotion of body, mind, and soul to the service of God and our fellow men. And this service, while making us a blessing to others, brings the greatest blessing to ourselves. Unselfishness underlies all true development. Through unselfish service we receive the highest culture of every faculty. More and more fully do we become partakers of the divine nature. We are fitted for heaven, for we receive heaven into our hearts.” Education, 16.
Pastor Gary and his wife Janie are the Sabbath School teachers for the primary class of our church in Oklahoma. For the first quarter of 2009, the class lesson study was about Jesus’ life and ministry. Desiring to teach their students the lessons learned in practical ways, the teachers had different things going on to accomplish this end. On an individual basis, the students, Haley who turned nine recently and Gabriel who is seven, were to bring a picture each Sabbath showing how they had been of service during the week. Some of the pictures Haley brought showed her helping her family with dusting, laundry, vacuuming, helping in the kitchen, and helping at her grandma’s house with taking her trash out, cleaning her bathroom and giving her a foot rub. Gabriel’s pictures showed him helping mommy in the kitchen, playing with his little sister, stuffing magazines with lesson cards, and helping to take care of his sick family. Haley and Gabriel were also required to share a blessing with the class every Sabbath.
As a class project the students were to each bring two food items to be gathered in baskets to share with the needy. Also the plan was to once a month find some needy person who could benefit from free help in a practical way. But only one person was found to need help, though attempts were made to find other people who could use help. So on Sunday, February 1st, Pastor Gary and his students, Gabriel’s mother and little sister and Pastor Gary’s two youngest children went to visit Grandma Mona and to do some yard work for her. Pastor Gary trimmed honeysuckle vines on the south and east sides of her fence in the backyard. She mentioned about wanting to get that done for the past three or four years. The children carried away the cut up vines. Pastor Gary also pruned an apricot tree while the kids carried the branches away. The kids trimmed some canna lilies and weeded her garden bed. Grandma Mona was delighted to have the job done and to see the kids working. She mentioned about finding it hard to hire someone to help her. She was even helping with carrying the cut up vines to the pile. While Pastor Gary was in the apricot tree pruning it, she told me that the Lord had sent me because what was being done was good. So I told her about the sermon that Pastor Gary preached the day before and agreed with her statement that all good was from the Lord. She then asked if his sermon leaflets were available, but I told her that what the church offered was his sermon on CD’s which I told her I would bring to her. She has since been listening to his sermons and been enjoying them.
I would like to tell a little bit about how I first met Grandma Mona. It was few years ago when she, a Christian of a different denomination, had mailed in a card. (My guess is she that got hold of the card which was inserted in a book that was distributed in her area.) She requested either the gift book or book and Bible studies. From the first time we met, I noticed her great enthusiasm about children. I asked her about Bible studies and told her, perhaps in answer to one of her questions, that I was a Seventh-day Adventist. Afterward, when I visited her again, she mentioned that she would not be interested in Bible studies. Then in September of 2008, I saw advertised on the local television channel the need of volunteers for the Wheatheart Nutrition Center, which provides meals for the senior citizens. Then shortly after this, at the local fair, the Center had a booth, where I stopped by and talked to the lady who gave me the name of the person to contact. After talking to the lady on the phone and expressing my interest for the kids and me to become volunteers, she said that that would be a good thing as most other volunteers were also senior citizens and that the elderly would be happy to see the children. I decided that this would be a good thing for my children to be involved in, as I have been teaching them to think more of the needs of others, and this was the opportunity to put it into practice. We all started gaining a blessing by delivering the meals, and we quickly made friends with some of the senior folks on our route. At times my husband would go with us and also Mrs. Janie and her youngest children. At times we even sang Scripture songs to the folks we visited.
Grandma Mona is one of the precious ones to whom we deliver the meals. She loves to see the children and even has a room in her house well loaded with toys for the children to play. So most of the time I make her last on the meal delivery route so the children could play and she and I could visit. We would talk about the Great Depression that she lived through and also about the Lord. Our friendship quickly grew, and she became dear to all of us. Grandma Mona just turned 90 years old and is in pretty good shape for her age. She mentioned to me that loneliness is what she suffers from the most. And you could see the immense joy on her face the day that we all went there to do her service — service in not only getting her yard in shape, but service to her lonely soul. It was so sweet to see Haley sitting next to her on the swing, just visiting. Heaven was brought near to her that day.
We have a perfect example of how to live the Christian life, and that is found in the life of our Savior, Who went about doing good. The world needs desperately a fresh revelation of Jesus in the person of His children, especially in these times. We hear of troubles of all kinds on every hand. There is abundant work in the Lord’s vineyard if God’s people of any age want to serve Him. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27. “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to touch someone’s life, and the Lord uses children. “Jesus was interested in children. He did not step into our world a fully matured man. Had He done this, children would not have had His example to copy. Christ was a child; He felt the disappointments and trials that children feel; He knew the temptations of children and youth. But Christ was in His child life and youthful life an example to all children and youth. In childhood His hands were engaged in useful acts.” Counsels on Sabbath School Work, 54. May the children know that a hug, a song with their precious sweet voices, and a smile can do much to brighten someone’s day and break down barriers that will open the way for someone to follow Jesus.
I believe that being a blessing to Grandma Mona in a practical way was more effective in opening the way for her to now hear the truth of our message than our previous efforts.
By Francesca Spillman, Helping Hands Ministry, PO Box 466, Kingfisher OK 73750