Adventist Logo Adventist Logo Adventist Logo

Adventist Mission

Lyudmila Komkova, 24

Rowdy First Grader

To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, March 20.

By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission


eacher Lyudmila wasn’t sure what to do with 6-year-old Matvei in first grade at the Seventh-day Adventist school in Bucha, Ukraine.

When he had a question during the Ukrainian-language lesson, he didn’t sit quietly and raise his hand like the other children. Instead he stood up.

“Where should I write?” he shouted.

During math, he also didn’t sit quietly and raise his hand.

“Which page are we at in the textbook?” he shouted.

Lyudmila tried to explain to Matvei that he needed to sit quietly and raise his hand when he had a question. But he didn’t seem to understand. His shouting was disrupting the class.

The first graders quickly made friends with one another. But Matvei had trouble making friends. When he wasn’t ignoring the other children, he was arguing with them. If he didn’t like something that they said, he shoved or hit them.

Lyudmila wasn’t sure what to do with Matvei. This was her first teaching job after graduating from the university. She wanted to help the boy learn and make friends. She tried to make the lessons more interesting. She tried to talk with Matvei. Nothing helped. She couldn’t do anything. Coming home from school one day, just a few weeks into the school year, she turned to God in prayer.

“God, I ask you for patience and wisdom to find a way to work with this child,” she prayed.

In the morning, she prayed again.

“God, please lead me as I teach today,” she said. “Show me how to work with Matvei and how to teach him. Help me to be a good teacher to all the children.”

Lyudmila prayed for Matvei every morning and every evening for six weeks. One day, she noticed a big change in the classroom. Matvei didn’t stand up and shout his questions. Instead, he sat quietly and raised his hand. He stopped ignoring, shoving, or hitting the other children. Instead, he spoke to them kindly.

Matvei saw that one of the other boys lost his pencil and couldn’t do his schoolwork.

“Here,” he said. “Take mine.”

Lyudmila’s heart was touched. Matvei only had one pencil, and he was giving it away. Another boy saw that Matvei needed a pencil and gave him one of his.

Matvei began to make friends. The children liked him. He was kind and generous. He was willing to share whatever he had.

For Lyudmila, it was a big lesson.

“I understood that we are God’s children,” she said. “God shows such patience and love toward us. God works our whole lives to refine our characters. He did a miracle in my life. I never thought He could change Matvei so quickly.”

She added: “I understood when we do everything that we can, God does that which is impossible for us.”

Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help Lyudmila’s school construct its own building. Currently the school borrows classrooms from an Adventist college, and your offering will help the children meet in their own classrooms. Thank you for planning a generous offering.