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Principal Gail Wilton, 51, standing outside the main building at Mamawi Atosketan Native School. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

When God Says, “No”

To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, May 19. Click here for photos to share while telling the mission story.

Last week, we read about Gail Wilton, a sixth-grade teacher at a Seventh-day Adventist school for First Nations children in the Canadian province of Alberta. [Find Alberta, Canada, on the map. The school is near the city of Edmonton.] This story happened in another sixth-grade class.

By Andrew McChesney,

Teacher wanted to show the sixth graders a video during Bible class, but she couldn’t get the video to work.

Many of the children had never heard about Jesus before they started studying at the Adventist school, and Teacher really wanted them to watch the video about Jesus’ resurrection from the grave. But try as she might, she couldn’t get the video to play.

Finally, the children said, “We’ll help you, Teacher. We know how to fix the video.”

A group of children crowded around the television and carefully checked the wires in the back. Teacher prayed silently, “Please let it work. Please let it work.”

But the video didn’t work.

Then the children suggested, “Let’s pray.”

Teacher thought that was a good idea, and 12-year-old *Donovan offered to pray.

“Dear God, thank You for today,” Donovan said. “Please help us with the video. Please help it to work. Thank you for hearing our prayer. Amen.”

While Donovan prayed, Teacher also prayed, but silently. She said to God, “We have talked a lot in class about how You answer prayer, but the children have never seen an answer to prayer in their own lives. This would be such an awesome time for them to see Your power. Please make the video work.”

Donovan and the other children went back to the television and fiddled with the wires some more. They disconnected the cords and put them back in. Teacher silently prayed with all her might for a miracle to happen.

But the video didn’t work.

Teacher felt so disappointed. She didn’t know what to say.

Finally, Donovan broke the silence. “Well, I guess God doesn’t want us to watch that video right now,” he said matter-of-factly.

Teacher was surprised! Donovan was right. Teacher had thought that a miracle was just what the children needed to know that God answers prayer. But the children saw things differently. They understood that God had answered their prayer by not performing a miracle.

Teacher realized she had made the wrong prayer request. She had wanted God to act when she thought it was the right time, but she should have asked God to act when He thought it was the right time.

The children, however, had made the right prayer request. They simply asked God to fix the video and accepted that He said, “No.”

Even though Teacher knows a lot and loves to teach, she learned an important lesson from the children that day. She learned that it is important to ask God to act when He think it is the right time—and to remember that He sometimes says, “No.”

Teacher’s name is Gail Wilton, and she is the principal of Mamawi Atosketan [pronounced: MAMA-way a-TOSS-key-tan] Native School. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help the school grow bigger so it can teach more children—and teachers—about Jesus. Thank you for your mission offering.

School principal Gail Wilton remembering the boy who accepted God’s “no.” (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

*The boy’s name has been changed.

For photos to share with this and other mission stories, visit the Facebook page for the Mission quarterlies

For this and other stories, download the Children’s Mission quarterly (PDF)

Download high-resolution photos from ADAMS