February 27, 2019 - Laurie McGinn
I couldn’t believe my ears. “You want me to what?” I responded when Lori, our Christian Education Director, asked me if I’d be interested in writing curriculum for and teaching an outer space-themed Sunday School class for February. She thought I’d be the perfect person for it because of my love for the Bible and interests in writing and science fiction. Her request intrigued me, but while I had taught a few adult Bible studies, I never taught children before. She advised me that I’d only have to teach the same thing each week since I’d have a different age group each week over four weeks. Okay, I thought, I could probably manage that.
“So, what’s the topic?” I asked.
“Abraham and Sarah.”
My head spun. Abraham and Sarah in outer space, yeah, right! I thought sarcastically. The only thing that I could think of at that time that had any remote connection between the two was God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore or the stars in heaven. I told her I’d pray about it and let her know.
When I went home that night, I told the Lord that if it was in His will for me to teach the class, then He needed to supply me a blueprint. A few hours later, I found myself awake at 3 AM trying to catch my breath as God flooded my mind with ideas. I could hardly write them down fast enough, but within a couple of hours, I had a plan. I was so excited about the plan, but it seemed like a daunting task, even though I had three months’ lead time. I needed to write a script, design a set, collect props, recruit actors, amongst other things. Still, I trusted the Lord to provide, and He did. When I started asking for volunteers, they all enthusiastically signed on, and the next thing I knew, we turned a Sunday School classroom into a model spacecraft, complete with working lights and buttons and Louise and Denise were ready to play their roles as Abraham and Sarah. The plan was to have the children serve as the “crew” and operate various controls when I called for them as we would “fly” to the planet Ancientia where we’d meet up with holographic representations of Abraham and Sarah. They’d tell the children their story right from the Bible and also point out key concepts of living a successful Christian life as they did so on a gate with several keys that we used as a visual prop so that the children would remember key concepts and highlights. They’d also involve the children in some of their stories, for instance, at one point, they’d share about how they built an altar out of stones to worship the Lord (Genesis 12:8) and invite the children to do the same, using some large stones that served as a backdrop to our alien planet. Each child would receive one of the rocks with the words “The Lord is My Rock” painted on them as a souvenir when the class ended.
When the day arrived for the first presentation, my heart raced in my chest as we scrambled through one last chaotic dress rehearsal and worked to fix a broken green light on a strand of Christmas lights that served as console lights to tell the children they were clear to go. (We purposely left one light red at a “prayer” station, that we’d change to green once we prayed.) Some of us wondered if we could pull this off, yet we prayed before we started and a few minutes later, our first class of second graders arrived. (I say “our” because this was an entire team effort, even though the Lord gave the idea to me). I’ll never forget the awestruck looks on the children’s faces when they saw their classroom. Some of them shouted with glee as my helpers, and I directed them to their stations and told them what we needed them to do when we called on them. They were all so eager to participate! Within minutes, after making sure our last red light turned green after we prayed, we “launched” the ship and flew to our destination where two alien “holograms” of Abraham and Sarah greeted us and shared their story. I don’t know who had more fun that day, the children, the team, or myself. We couldn’t wait until the following week to bring the next group of kids through.
Apparently, neither could the next group of children. They must’ve heard about the class from their peers, and at the following week’s Sunday School opening, some of them were pleading to be in the next class to experience Space Lab. The next three sessions proved to be as successful as the first and even some parents peeked in to see what all the excitement was about! Although I hadn’t planned on teaching another class like this, since we had the props and a core team of six volunteers, Lori asked me if we could do it again, this time, with a different Bible personality and story. Over ten years, my team and I ran over half a dozen different programs and most we presented a second time around with a new group of children coming into the program. The programs featured not only other Biblical characters such as David and Daniel but prominent Bible stories such as Creation and Pentecost.
A few weeks after our imaginary spaceship finished its last voyage, I saw one of my former students, now close to graduation from high school, singing in the choir and seemingly enjoying it, though most of the adults in the choir were much older than her. I told her how excited I was to see her in the choir and so active in the church in general. She smiled warmly at me, and I’ll never forget what she said. After thanking me, she added, “You inspired me!” She referred to the time when she was in my class and how I cared for the kids, made them feel welcome, and taught them in such a fun way. It’s not often the Lord allows someone to see the fruit of their labor. God blessed me indeed simply because I said “yes” to a strange opportunity. God still works in mysterious ways.
Written by former Sunday School teacher, Laurie McGinn
If you are considering God’s call to teach Sunday School, we would love to help you learn how you can serve. Contact Gidget Meland (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Adrienne Demmin (email@example.com) or call the church office at 716-625-8306.