A few weeks ago in First Grade A we studied the time when Jesus turned five loaves of bread and two fishes into enough lunch for thousands.
I have so enjoyed teaching Bible for the first time. I was nervous, as I have mentioned here before, but armed with my Jesus Storybook Bible and the Holy Spirit I think I have done quite well (to God be the glory). My students love Bible time. And we rarely do any fun activities (besides acting out the stories, which they love). We mostly just chat and pray and sing. This past week for the first time I had them pray in partners rather than as a whole group. I can’t even believe that part of my life gets to be teaching six year olds how to pray. What a beautiful blessing.
Anyway, we learned the story of the miracle that was the feeding of the thousands. We acted it out and wrote about it/drew it. We learned a memory verse and prayed every day. We talked about how it was a little boy’s lunch that Jesus used and how the boy offered up what he had, which was just five loaves and two fish, and how Jesus used that little bit that he had to bless a whole bunch of people.
On the last day of the week (we tackle one Bible story a week) I gave the students eight minutes to reflect. I had them get out their notebooks but told them they didn’t have to write anything. They could write or draw or pray or sing or just close their eyes and think. I challenged them to ask Jesus what they could give Him that He could use to bless a whole bunch of people. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but as He often does, the Spirit showed up.
After the eight minutes (of silence in a first grade classroom – record that miracle) the students were bursting to share what had come to them in their time of reflection. Many students said they could share their food, which is great. Then one little girl said that she could share her shoes because she has seen some people in town that do not have shoes. Bless it. The same little girl said that she could share her toys. The one little boy said that he could give away his Xbox. That’s the Holy Spirit, ya’ll, because no six year old boy is giving up his Xbox just for fun.
Before having the students put away their notebooks (or maybe it was after) I was pushed to push us. “Hey,” I said, “We shouldn’t just talk about this. We should do it. Would you all go home and find one toy that you could give to a kid who doesn’t have a lot of toys?” We talked about how it couldn’t be a broken toy, but a good one that a kid would like. Then over the course of a couple of weeks almost all of my students brought a toy from their collection to donate to a kid who doesn’t have a lot of toys.
The culmination was yesterday when each student decorated a paper bag, wrote a Bible verse on a card, and stuffed their toy in said decorated bag with a bag of chips and a water bottle. As they were decorating their bags and writing their chosen verses down to share with a kid they don’t know, I reminded them what we were doing. That just like the little boy from the story we were giving Jesus just a little something and that He was going to use that to bless more people that we could see. And that all of that was obedience because it’s what Jesus asks us to do. And then I stopped talking before I started crying.
Last week our memory verse was, “Let the children come to me. – Matthew 19:14.” They loved that one. They drew self portraits to go with the verse. We talked about what Jesus likes about children that we should all hold on to as we grow up. Jesus is calling these children, these fifteen precious, annoying, smarty pants, sassy, talented, funny, weirdo first graders, to Himself. He wants to laugh and play with them and teach them how to love and obey. The fact that I get to be a part of that is amazing.
One of those smarty pants weirdo has a mom who was totally on board with this idea. She purchased all of the chips (I know, not ideal, but nutrition is another subject to tackle another day) and the water bottles. She also collected up the bags at the end of the day to distribute to children who could benefit. She and her family are seeking out intentional ways to serve people in their community and in other communities in and around Jarabacoa. If you would, pray for them as they listen to the Spirit tell them which kids could use these little bags of love.