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Suzann Self, 47, thought that everybody would recognize a picture of Jesus hanging on the cross. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

Who’s That Man?

To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, June 9. Click here for photos to share while telling the mission story.

By Andrew McChesney,

Little Slade raised his hand in the middle of the first-grade math lesson.

“Teacher, who’s that Man?” he said, pointing to a picture on the classroom wall. “Why is He hanging on that wood?”

Teacher was surprised by the question. She thought that everybody knew Jesus and would recognize a picture of Him hanging on the cross.

“That’s Jesus,” Teacher said.

Slade looked confused. He had never heard of Jesus.

Teacher prayed silently. “Thank you, God, for this opportunity to teach this young boy about You,” she prayed. “This is the first time that Slade has heard about You, and he is curious. Give me the right words to say.”

Teacher took a deep breath. She would have to stop the math lesson to explain why Jesus was hanging on the piece of wood. Teacher asked the children to close their books and to pay attention.

“It started with Adam and Eve,” Teacher said. “God created Adam and Eve in a beautiful place called the Garden of Eden. But our first parents disobeyed God, and they had to leave the garden. Because they disobeyed, we have many problems in the world.”

Slade and the other children listened intently.

“But God loved Adam and Eve, and He loves us, and He wants us to be happy,” Teacher said. “We are His children, and He wants more than anything for us to be in heaven with Him one day.”

To make that possible, Teacher said, God had to send his Son, Jesus, to Earth to die for our sins. Teacher told how Jesus was born and grew up.

“Then Jesus died on that wood because he wants us to be in heaven,” Teacher said.

Slade asked many more questions about Jesus that school year. He came back to the school for second grade, but then he disappeared. Teacher doesn’t know what happened to him. But she said she was glad that she had been able to share the story of Jesus with him in the first grade.

“Even though we seem to have churches on every corner in North America, this boy only learned about Jesus in our school,” she said. “I realized that time is really, really precious because we don’t know from day to day how long children will be here.”

No Alarm Clock

Another child in Teacher’s first-grade class is Brianna.

Brianna’s mother noticed something unusual happen when Brianna started first grade. Mother no longer needed an alarm clock.

Brianna used to get up quietly in the morning and get ready for school. But now, the whole house knows when Brianna is awake. As soon as she wakes up, she opens her mouth and begins to sing loudly. “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so,” she sings.

Mother is delighted. She loves to hear the sweet voice of her little girl singing praises to God.

One day, Mother told Teacher that things aren’t the same at home any more.

“I love your school,” Mother said. “Every morning my little girl wakes up and fills the house with praises to God.”

Why do you think Brianna began singing every morning? [Wait for the children to guess.]

Brianna began singing at home because she sings every day at school. Every morning, Teacher leads the children in singing songs for worship. The first graders love singing, and they also ask, “Can we sing one more song? Just one more song?”

Teacher was happy that the children wanted to sing at school, but she didn’t know that they also were singing at home.

“That made me realize that a lot of what happens at school goes home,” Teacher said.

Teacher’s name is Suzann Self, and she teaches at 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 like Slade about Jesus and more children like Brianna can sing for Jesus. Thank you for your mission offering. [As the offering is collected, lead the children in singing, “Jesus Loves Me.”]

Suzann Self talking about how her conversation with Slade affected her outlook on teaching. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

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