Saustin Mfune, associate director for Children’s Ministries at the General Conference, wrote this year’s readings. We are pleased to share these readings with you to use in your classrooms or at home. There are some fun activites to do as well.-—Editors
“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).
God’s Precious Book
We had just moved to a new area, and our new house was not yet ready. Since it would take us about three weeks to put the finishing touches on our new home, our friends let us stay with them. They had a 6-year-old girl who had a very pleasant personality and was very smart. One day when she returned from school, she walked in with two small flowerpots. One plant looked very healthy, and the other was shriveled and dying.
I could tell that she had some big news to share. She put her plants down and told me the plants she carried were her class project. She explained that before we moved in, her teacher gave them two plants to put in flowerpots when they returned home. They were to put one pot where there was plenty of light and the other in a very dark place. The plant that would be in darkness would not be fertilized, but the one in the light would be. While the plant in the light would be watered lightly once or twice a week, the plant in the dark would be watered only when planted. They were told to bring the pots to school after two weeks.
The girl’s mom helped her with the planting, and at the end of the two weeks she collected both plants and took them to school. She discovered that her plant that was kept in darkness was dying. Her teacher explained the reason the plants were dying was that without light, fertilizer, and proper food, a plant couldn’t grow. This little girl’s class project helped me remember that this lesson applies to our relationship with Jesus. If we don’t get the right spiritual nutrients, we will not grow.
“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT).*
Because of my height, my friends in elementary school nicknamed me Shorty. I didn’t like this name, and so whenever somebody called me that, I threw stones at them. Then an incident happened when I was 11 that changed everything. While I was walking home from school one day, some girls called me Shorty, so I found a stone and threw it. When the stone hit one of the girls above her right eye, I ran home. When I got there, I went straight to my room.
Suddenly I heard crying coming from outside my window. I looked out, and there stood the girl, blood oozing from her wound, her parents standing next to her. They spoke with my parents briefly, and then left. My father came to my room, obviously upset, and asked me to follow him. Into the woods we went, finally stopping underneath a tree.
“Why were you throwing stones at those girls?” he asked me.
“Because they called me Shorty!” I replied angrily.
“And have you grown taller after stoning them?” he asked. I had no answer.
“Throwing stones at your friends will not make you grow,” my father said. “You have to make a decision. Either you live the rest of your life throwing stones at people, or accept yourself the way you are. You just cannot go through life throwing stones at people.”
I was silent. “Look at it this way,” my dad said. “God is building a house, and He knows exactly where you will fit into the plans. God allows certain things to happen to us for His glory. Remember that when God created Adam and Eve, He made them in His image. You are also made in God’s image. And know this: God does not make junk.”
That discussion with my father changed me and helped me accept myself just the way I was. I may be short, but I am made in the image of God, and I no longer have to throw stones.
“Don’t become totally absorbed in your own spiritual growth, but take an interest in other people and help them to grow too” (Philippians 2:4, Clear Word).+
How Peter BefriendsBilly the Bully
Peter and his parents had just moved to a new town. During his first day on the school bus, Peter encountered Billy.
“I am Billy the Bully. Do you have lunch for me?” Billy asked as he sat in the seat across from Peter.
“I didn’t bring enough for two, but I can give you one of my sandwiches,” Peter replied. Opening his lunch box, Peter gave Billy a sandwich.
After the school day was over, Peter returned home and told his parents what had happened. They were proud of him for how he reacted.
“But what annoys me is that I know I am stronger than Billy,” Peter said.
“Remember, the Bible says you should ‘love those who persecute you, ” Peter’s mother reminded him.
Billy continued to bully Peter for two weeks until one day Peter got a chance to show Billy the love his mom had told him about. It was a day after school when Billy almost missed the bus. He tried to run up the stairs, but just as he reached them, he fell and his face hit the bus steps. Blood ran from his mouth and forehead as he stumbled toward his seat. Some kids giggled, but Billy was in too much pain to do anything. As the bus driver called the school nurse, Peter walked over to Billy and put his hand on Billy’s shoulder. “Is there anything I can do for you?” he asked.
“I think I’ll be fine,” Billy replied through swollen lips. Peter offered Billy some water to rinse out his mouth.
The next day Peter saw Billy in the back of the bus, his face still swollen from the day before. Despite his pain, Billy came over and apologized for how he had treated Peter.
“Why are you so nice to me?” Billy asked. Peter told him that the Bible tells us to be kind to those who mistreat us. In that moment, Peter gained a new friend and helped change Billy’s life for the better.
“Finally, my brothers, fill your minds with things that are true, honest and just. Think about things that are noble, pure and lovely. Focus on good reports about others. If any good has happened or there’s any reason to praise man or God, think about those things” (Philippians 4:8, Clear Word).+
We take our eyes for granted. Have you ever played the blindfolding game? The game is fun only because we know that after the game we will see again. But can you imagine if you were blindfolded for the rest of your life? That would not be fun at all. I know a boy who was born blind. Though this boy has many talents, such as playing a guitar and singing beautifully, and though he always wears a smile, he once told me that he wished he could see just like other boys and girls.
Blindness is not fun. And the devil knows it. He wants to blindfold you for the rest of your life so that you are not able to see the goodness of Jesus. Unfortunately, there are some who have let him do that to them, and they don’t see the good things God has for them.
“So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body” (Ephesians 4:25, NLT).*
“Mr. iPhone” Makes Things Right
Jonathan was probably the coolest guy anyone had ever seen. And it seemed he could do anything. He was nicknamed “Mr. iPhone” because kids at his school believed that an iPhone could do almost everything. But Jonathan actually had no mobile phone.
One morning, Bill, Jonathan’s classmate, came to class waving an iPhone he received as a birthday present. The other classmates gathered around as he demonstrated how it worked. Jonathan was so jealous because Bill had the kids’ attention.
A week later Jonathan entered the bathroom just in time to see Bill walk out of a stall. When Jonathan walked in, he could not believe his eyes. There on the floor Bill’s iPhone! He grabbed it, turned it off, and put it in his pocket. As Jonathan left, he ran into Bill, who had a desperate look on his face.
In class, Bill, with a tearful voice, asked the class if they had seen his phone. “No,” the kids responded.
When Jonathan got home, he dashed to his bedroom, locked the door behind him, and turned on the phone, being careful to put it on vibration mode.
At suppertime Jonathan left the phone under his pillow and went to eat. His father excused himself from the table so that he could slip a surprise gift into Jonathan’s room. As his father put the gift on the bed, he heard a vibrating sound. When he lifted the pillow, he saw the phone. He left it there and returned to the family.
After the meal, Dad asked Jonathan if he had something to say. When Jonathan said no, His father told him he found the phone. Jonathan looked at his parents, began crying, and confessed.
Jonathan promised to return the phone and confess to the class what he had done. His father went with him to school the following day, and Jonathan made things right.
*Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Winning Others to Jesus
In 1999, while I was working in Zimbabwe, I took a group of students visiting from Sahmyook University in South Korea to the Kariba hydroelectric dam, one of the largest human-made dams in the world. When we arrived in the evening, I was surprised to see lights glowing from Kariba. I’d never thought it was a “city”! The next morning I spoke with a local who said the lights were actually from fishermen who used this special technique to catch fish. “Though you can fish at any time of the day, the best time to fish, and catch lots of them, is at night,” he told us.
That same morning, we saw kids playing in the water, and some men mending their nets on the shores of the dam. The local pastor joined us with a group of about 25 kids. He told us that since it was a school holiday, the kids had volunteered to help us distribute tracts and handbills to the people.
After organizing ourselves, we distributed tracts door to door. It was great to see young people from Korea and children from Kariba work side by side to distribute tracts and invite people to learn about Jesus. Despite their cultural differences, these kids were willing to come together for a good cause. These young people realized that many people don’t fully know the good news of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. And with such an eager group, it was a wonderful time to share God’s message.
“You can be sure that no one who . . . is greedy, or who values anything as more important than God can have a part in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5, Clear Word).+
A Trip to
NeeQua liked watching TV, and Billy enjoyed playing with his mobile phone. It made their parents sad that the kids enjoyed playing with their gadgets more than attending family worship.
Their father traveled often for his job and had received lots of frequent flyer miles. One day, he decided he would use his miles and take his family to Kenya to see animals at the Masai Mara game reserve.
After many hours of flying, the family arrived in Nairobi, Kenya. They enjoyed a good night’s rest before departing in the morning for Masai Mara, which was about 170 miles west of Nairobi.
About four hours later they arrived at the game reserve, and it was breathtaking. They saw so many beautiful animals, but after a while they wondered why they hadn’t seen any lions. Then they saw a car flash its lights, which, according to their driver, meant there were lions ahead.
They were thrilled when they finally saw a pride of lions, fast asleep. They joined other tourists taking pictures from their cars. Since they were the last ones to arrive, they were the last to leave. The driver turned the key in the ignition, but nothing happened. He tried again and again, but still nothing.
Dad and Mom looked at their mobile phones, but they had no signal. Even Dad’s satellite phone didn’t work. Suddenly the lions stood and walked toward the car! Everyone was terrified, so Dad suggested that they pray a short prayer: “Lord, help our car to start. Amen.” He then told the driver to start the car.
To everyone’s relief, the car responded with a roaring sound that scared the lions away. After arriving in their hotel room, NeeQua and Billy apologized to their parents for valuing their gadgets more than they valued prayer. Dad and Mom were so happy and told their children that technology may fail them, but they could always depend upon prayer. This experience helped the children not only to see the worth of prayer, but above all, to value God.
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