May 3, 2014

Let the Little Children Come

Being a teacher is definitely not for the faint of heart.  It is one of the most difficult jobs I have ever done.  Difficult, but definitely worth it!

I grew to love teaching preschool last year, so when asked to take on the 3rd grade class in the afternoon, I asked myself,  "how much harder could it be?".

Well, after 2 weeks into the school year, I was seriously reconsidering the wisdom of my decision.  I was also wondering what God's purpose was for putting me with that group.  Had I really heard his voice?

The two basic things that seemed to interest the class the most were talking and arguing.  More of my time was spent trying to keep them quite and putting out fires than actual teaching.  

I teach at a Christian School that has relatively small class sizes.  There are 16 in my 3rd grade class.  The majority have been together since preschool and will stay together until they graduate.  Needless to say, their interpersonal relationships are very important.

In addition to all the normal English learning stuff, I had also been trying to teach them about respecting and loving each other.  However, nothing seemed to be sinking in.

Until One Rainy Day...
We went down to the covered parking area for recess.  When I called them to come in, the boys were arguing and fighting about something.  One was so angry that I had to physically restrain him from hitting one of his classmates.  What really got to me, though was that several were continuing to taunt him even though they knew he had trouble controlling his anger.  They were enjoying watching his reaction.

With the help of a male teacher, I was able to get my class safely upstairs and sitting at their desks.  And, that is when IT happened.

I was so disappointed and frustrated that the moment I began to speak to them, tears starting trickling down my face.  "Uh Oh, the teacher is crying!"  The room fell into a complete silence.  

"Do you know why I am crying?" I asked.

No answer.

"I am crying because you have no love for each other.  God put us together in 3rd grade as a family.  You were purposely trying to make a classmate angry and enjoying it.  There is no love."

Then, in that moment God did something that I had been trying to do for almost 2 months.  One of the boys stood up and asked to say something.

With tears flowing he said, "I do not feel safe at home.  My family is always fighting.  I am in a Christian school where I should feel safe, but all we do in this class is fight too.  It should not be that way."

Suddenly the flood gates opened.  Another boy started crying and shared that his parents were going through a divorce.  As I looked around the majority of the class was crying, most of them boys.  I was completely taken off guard as I strongly felt the presence of God in that room.

I opened my door and saw through the office window that the school's director was unoccupied.  I explained to her what was going on.  She came in the class, and both of us started praying with the children.  I felt a great sense of compassion well up in me as I touched and prayed for each and every one of them.  The children then began praying for each other.

I felt like I was part of a scene from the movie "Facing the Giants" as I watched my students ministering to each other.

With just a few minutes left of the school day, I had the students line up to leave.  I then sat down on the floor.  They all surrounded me, and one of them actually crawled into my lap.  As I was sitting there with a rather large 8-year-old boy in my lap, it was then that I realized that it was indeed God's plan for me to teach this class this year.

It was His plan if for no other reason but to witness the miraculous way He used the honesty of an 8-year-old boy to accomplish His will and purposes within the hearts of many, including a frustrated school teacher.

"Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children." Matthew 19:14