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Apr 2018

Finding the Right Fit

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Finding the Right Fit

I’ve never liked attending Sabbath School. As a child, the only joy I received from it was earning a sticker for my memory verse and seeing my friends in class. In college, Sabbath School quickly grew into a place where my classmates battled each other with their Bible knowledge against each other instead of delving into the word and learning. I quickly became turned away from attending altogether. A few months ago, I was approached by a fellow church member to help assist in teaching cradle roll. I was apprehensive and begrudgingly (without her knowing) agreed to help. You see, I was still trying to find my place in this church and thought this might be a place I could give back to God. Well, helping turned into teaching more than 1 Sabbath a month. Eventually, both co-teachers wouldn't teach anymore, even though I signed up to be a helper and not a leader.

About two Sabbaths ago, it was my turn to teach and I ended up coming an hour late since I forgot when Sabbath School started. I walked into the classroom which was full of students (a rare sight) and lo and behold, the two ex-teachers happened to be present as parents. I felt shame and embarrassment at that moment. I couldn’t look them in the eyes. I have never felt such shame being in the house of the Lord in my life. After some awkward exchanges and assigned Sabbaths, I retreated to hide in my car.

I have yet to find “my place” in this church that I’ve been attending since I’ve moved here two years ago. Used to being “his wife” instead of by my name, I sat in my car glaring at the church I have yet to feel at home with. But as I sit here typing this, I think, is it the church's responsibility to make me feel welcome, or is it my own? 

I have created the place that I’m in now. I made myself his wife instead of me, the cradle roll teacher, the funny woman, the children’s story teller. I've held back, hiding from my church family who I really am. I should have found out when Sabbath school started, I should’ve reached out to them and be true to myself. And you know what, it’s not too late.

God is always ready for us to return to his arms. Some people realize that later in life, others feel they need to be “good enough” to call themselves Christians. But God will take us wherever we are in life. I’m tired of putting on a mask in church. Church isn’t a place where perfect people gather, it’s where people come to be healed. As I continue to struggle with my feelings and character, I glad I have God to give my doubts to so he may cleanse and heal me.

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Life's Small Lessons

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Life's Small Lessons

There was a small elementary school with desks, and boards, and colorful educational posters on the wall. At this school there were many young children of all different sizes, shapes, and colors. Each of them knew they were different however the difference didn’t matter—the children spent more time caring about what made them similar rather than what made them different. One boy, Guro, was the strongest of his class. His tablemate, Tobee, was his shy best friend. In their classroom two girls sat in front of them: Astra, and Akila. Astra was small and smart. Akila was Astra’s best friend. She was very tall; she was able to reach the books at the top of the bookshelf. 

Every Monday their class would have an elective class period—some days they would work on art projects, or science experiments. 

On this particular Monday, the teacher had a very special plan in mind. Everyone had a new machine on their desk. This machine worked with electricity. That morning in science their entire class learned all about electricity; they learned about how it worked, how it would give energy to different things – even people! Their teacher said that the nerves and the muscles in the body were connected and when the nerves sent a signal to the muscle it was sending a form of electricity. Then they learned how electricity could be used to help people walk or contract their muscles to be able to grab onto cups. At every desk there was a big kid from the college that was showing them how they could use their machine. Step by step the teacher told them all the different instructions they had to follow so their experiment could be successful. First, they needed to select the correct amount of electrical output on the machine: there were so many different types on Guro and Tobee’s machine. There were swirly waves, and straight lines, and sometimes even X’s -- all these showed the different outputs of electricity their machines had.

The teacher said out loud that they needed to use the asymmetrical wave. “What does that even mean?”  Guro inquired to himself. He rose his hand in the air and asked his teacher what that meant.

She explained, “Remember when we talked about how sometimes the amount of electricity can be equal or different -- the asymmetrical wave means you are giving a smaller amount of electricity to your partner. The symmetrical one means that on the positive and the negative side they are going to be equal-- which makes the wave even larger."

This was an unsuccessful class, the boys thought, they were lost at the very first question. The teacher continued explaining the amount of intensity that they needed, and the amount of time that they had to leave the electricity on the partner. Everything was getting really hard to understand and they couldn’t remember everything that the teacher had talked about in science. To top it all off their college student helper wasn’t telling them how to do anything, all he did was sit on the stool next to them on his phone and poke the girl that was helping Astra and Akila.

“Pssst, Astra,” whispered Guro. “Can you help us?” asked Tobee.

“I don’t think I can. I’m still a little bit confused,” she stated while giving her college helper a poke, requesting her attention.

The teacher walked all around the room answering the questions the students had. Everyone seemed to be understanding the experiment. Some were walking around using the electricity to fire the muscles in the legs and others were getting their hands to move up and down without even controlling them, but Guro, Tobee, Astra, and Akila were sitting at their tables punching in numbers and helplessly confused. As the teacher walked by Astra’s table she quickly rose her hand and called out, “Teacher we need help! In order to get the hand to move like them, we have to use the symmetrical wave?”

“Yes, you are correct.”

“Ok, Akila I think we can do this,” she responded.

Guro’s hand quickly shot up as straight as an arrow, “Wait, teacher, I thought you said we could use the asymmetrical one? That’s the one we’ve been using.”

“Yes you are correct,” the teacher exclaimed with a small smile on her face.

“Then why are Astra and Akila using the symmetrical one?”

“Well all the machines are different; even though everyone can use their machine to give electricity to their muscles some machines don’t have the asymmetrical wave likes yours and they have to accommodate and make theirs work.” As the teacher spoke, Akila ’s hand was slowly moving up towards and the girls laughed at how the machine was controlling it.

The boys turned towards their machine with puzzled faces. Tobee was the first to speak “ We thought everyone had the same machine.”  

Guro added, "Yeah we didn’t know that there were different ones, we thought ours was the worst one.”

“Wow boys, I think we learned a very big lesson about the way that some people live.”

“What do you mean?” the boys asked.

“Well, you thought that everyone was the same, that everyone had the same machine that you did and that your advantages and disadvantages were the same right? But then when the girls asked the question about the wave you saw that wasn’t the case, you had an advantage over them-- your experiment was actually easier than the girl’s experiment because they had a different machine. That’s the way that some people are living their lives and we have no idea. We believe that everyone has the same chance to go to school, or the same grocery store to get food, but the reality is that there are some people that have a larger advantage and that makes life for them easier than those that have to find creative and different ways to live their life.”

“Does this make us bad?” the boys asked

“No not at all- don’t feel bad that you have a different machine than the girls, just share your advantage with them. Do you have any other questions?”

Did you catch it? In these small moments in life, we learn some of our largest lessons. Take the time to listen to people’s stories. To look around you and appreciate that which you have. For those that don’t have the same advantages as you, listen—listen to the stories they have to share.

 

Chantal Williams recently graduated from Andrews University as a doctor of physical therapy, and has been involved with Enspire Productions since 2011.

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More Lessons from Cuba

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More Lessons from Cuba

Over spring break, Steph and I were privileged to go to Cuba for an evangelistic series with the annual Andrews University study tour. Many, many things happened over those 10 days, but I want to share with you the real-life story that impacted me the most.

Near the beginning of the weeklong series, we prayed that God would bless the children’s program at our church in the same way that He would bless the adult meetings. But you know how things go. We completely forgot about that prayer almost immediately. Exciting things were happening, and we “moved on” from that prayer.

Our children’s program started strong. On the first night, we had around 40 kids! The area was a little cramped, but we were fortunate enough to be able to do songs and dramas for the kids. In Cuba, the vast majority of people speak Spanish only, but the kids loved to learn songs in English! We taught songs like Jesus’ Love is a Bubblin’ Over and With Jesus as the Captain. It was incredibly fun.

We also were fortunate enough to have some wonderful children’s plays and stories. We would tell the stories in English, and a local translator would relay it to the kids in Spanish. A church member provided us with some costumes, and we were ready to roll!

We had a few stray issues, but everything in the kids’ program went quite smoothly. We had forgotten about that prayer at the beginning of the week — but God didn’t.

On the last night of the program, the local church leaders called us up front and allowed the meeting attendees to comment on their experience in the week. A few people stood up and told some heart-warming stories, but for me, the heavy impact belonged to an older woman with bright eyes.

What she said absolutely blew all of us away.

She stood up, gripped the microphone that was handed to her, and smiled. She told us that she is a local school teacher. Early in the week, her kids came to class and wouldn’t stop talking about the dramas and songs that was going on at a nearby church. Being a curious person, she decided to see what they were talking about for herself. She attended the meetings for the rest of the week. 

The woman continued on to tell us that she wanted to give her life to Jesus. She wanted to get baptized that following Sabbath!

I suddenly remembered that prayer that was prayed at the beginning of the week. God didn’t forget it. Not even for a moment. 

I imagine Him smiling as He knew what amazing things would happen through the genuine witness of children.

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
1 Timothy 4:12 (ESV)

Your age, education, and skill set is never a limitation for the Creator God. Regardless of your situation, God can use you right where you are to bring others to Him. 

So, I challenge you to take the first step this week with a simple prayer.

“God, I don’t want to be a bystander anymore. Help my plans to be interruptible. Let me know how to show just one person your love this week. Amen.”

Jonny has been involved with Enspire Productions since 2009. He is currently enrolled in the MDiv. program at the Andrews University Theological Seminary.

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