I'm not the normal Middle School Sunday morning Bible Study teacher. When they're teens most churches have curriculum that include lots of games and sometimes provocative ways of teaching even more provocative subjects. This teaching position isn't something I was led to; it was thrust on me. I'd say it was thrust on my by circumstances beyond my control but I can so clearly see the hand of God behind it that I know that's not true.
I started with the basic beliefs - because I just felt "led" that the whole class, which had dwindled down to 4, didn't really know why they believed what they said they did. I took it phrase by phrase and made them look up scripture. I made them take notes. I made it dull and uninteresting by society's standards today. And, these four have stuck. They're "in it to win it" as the saying goes. It's probably the most unorthodox way of teaching teens ever, but it's the only way I know to do it. I used to be fun, but then I grew up. :)
I've been teaching them now for 52 weeks (I know this because I give them Scripture Readings to do each week to bring back to me). A year. A year since I stepped into this room and told these kids things were changing from fun Bible study to "down to business" because I simply didn't have time to be fun. Honestly this class wasn't in my plans. God has a grand sense of what we need to be doing when we need to do it. Sometimes I don't think what we end up doing in the beginning is the "pure" part of His plans, because we humans step in or out and mess things up. Regardless, play time was over for this group. Oh my goodness, but I'm feeling old. They were uncertain - it's not because they didn't know me or weren't comfortable around me, but because it was so far from normal.
I have added one aspect that wasn't there before and that is art. These four kids have made some incredible artwork that would put many art students to shame because of the freedom they have. Our walls are covered now with actual paintings done to affirm what they believe. It makes me cry with awe and joy to walk in and view it. I am sure it would do the same to you.
Before Easter I began teaching them the passion of the Christ - the period of His life that focused on His sufferings to His crucifixion, and then to His resurrection. I had them look up, read, and write down so many scriptures it would make your head spin. And yet, they were more than willing. Egad... God has blessed me. If you've ever taught teens and you've read this far, you'll understand why I say that.
Then, I gave them each a blank canvas and pretty much said, "Go for it! Put all your knowledge, yes, but more so, put all your heart onto this canvas to tell the story of the resurrection." I had them focus on the resurrection because honestly, it all begins and ends with that, doesn't it? The resurrection IS the story. A blank canvas is scary to an artist, but they worked through it. I ordered a wall decal that said "He Is Risen" and was waiting for it to come in. Finally, last week, it came.
This week, I gave each of them papers explaining different forms of poetry and said, it was time to put words to the paintings. Art was now leaving the paint/brush and going to the literary stage. I wanted modern day Davids - shepherd boy and king - that poured their hearts out to explain their paintings. I told them it didn't have to be anything big or important, but that it had to be from their hearts. Of course, that would make it big and important, at least in God's eyes. I mean, can you just imagine the Father hearing their hearts poured out on paper and turning to His Son and saying, "Yes! Those are My children! They knows what You went through. They know Our love for them."
My plan is to hang their paintings and then below them hang their framed poems. The poems are beautiful. The poems are expressive. They poems show their hearts. The poems have blessed me in ways I never thought possible.
I'll be posting pictures of their artwork and their poetry. God is so good. In the midst of being thrown into a situation, He made good for me... for me. What was His intent? I don't know that I'll ever see the end reason, but I do know that He had this moment of beauty in store for me. I do know that they're blossoming in their faith in spite of me.