Two years ago I was invited to a mission event to teach children about Latin America. We’d gathered around our interactive map and labeled the Amazon River, the rain-forests and the mountains in Peru. We’d talked about how the children in Haiti play tic-tac-toe with bottle caps. Now, it was time for the Bible story. I had decided to use a new approach, based on the Intrapersonal Learning Style, where children are invited to enter right into the Bible story and imagine themselves there as the events are taking place. I’ll never forget what happened…
The story for the day was taken from Mark 10:13-16, where Jesus is on the hillside in Galilee and some children are turned away by the disciples. Using the Intarpersonal Learning Style, I invited the children in my room to close their eyes and listen as I told the story slowly, using pauses:
Take three deep breaths. See a hillside with many people. See Jesus sitting on the ground talking to the people…what does he look like? What does his voice sound like? See mothers come through the crowd with their children…how old are they? Are they quiet or noisy? Are they boys or girls?
Now hear some men yelling at the children to go away…how do the children look now? Are they frightened?
Now hear Jesus say ‘Let the children come to me; do not stop them because the kingdom belongs to such as these.’
Now see Jesus take all the children in his arms, hug them, and bless them. How do the children look now? How do the men look now? How does Jesus look now?
When you are ready, open your eyes, and slowly come back to the room.
I’d barely finished speaking when a little boy, perhaps six years old, jumped up with wide eyes and loudly exclaimed, I saw the whole thing! I saw every page! At this point, the teacher in me is delighted! I smiled and said, what did you see?
Well, the little boy said excitedly, I saw Jesus! I saw Jesus on the hillside…
My heart sank. This little guy had got horribly mixed up. Jesus wasn’t in Peru. Jesus was in Galilee! So I just nodded, and wondered what was coming next and how I was going to correct this misunderstanding.
Jesus was in Peru and there were some children playing on the hillside with their bottle caps and some men came and shouted and said ‘You can’t play here! Go away!’ But Jesus came. Jesus came and Jesus said, ‘NO. Don’t send them away, because children EVERYWHERE should be able to play… and that’s it.
That’s the whole thing.’
The room went quiet then, as this little boy taught me what I should have known all along… that Jesus was never meant to be kept in Galilee. Jesus was never meant to stay in the pages of the Bible, but to be taken out and found on the hillsides in Peru and the streets of Grand Rapids and the suburbs of Florida… where children everywhere need him.
So, friends, teachers, parents, grandmas, next time you share a Bible story with your little ones, try using that same style. You might discover, as I did, that your child ends up teaching you.