What His Mom Never Taught Him

It was time to teach our big one—the class of 44 kindergarteners. (Yes, all in one class.) Just then we heard it—a loud, high pitched wailing coming from a group of children returning from recess to their classroom down the hallway.

My first thought when I teachers' lounge-1heard the crying was, “Bless those teachers’ hearts.” Before long, though, I realized that the noise was coming from our class of 44 kindergarteners. Now I was thinking, “Bless our hearts!” and dreading what was to come.

The teachers told the crying boy to stay in the hallway while the other kids filed past him into their classroom. Once he could calm down and listen, he would be allowed to go in and sit down. I sensed God wanted me to stop and talk to him, so my teaching partner went in to start the lesson while I talked to my new friend Bryson.

I asked him if he knew why he was in trouble. He told me it was because he didn’t listen to his teacher.

“Why didn’t you listen?”

small group-1With tears streaming down his face he explained, “ I don’t know how to listen. My mom never taught me how.”

That broke my heart. I remembered the listening game we play at Bible club: touch your head, touch your ears, touch your knees. I decided to try it with Bryson, and then we talked some more. When he was ready to go back to class, I asked him what he was going to work on this week. Without a word, he touched his eyes, then his ears, then his nose.

Huh?  What kind of response was that? Then it dawned on me, he was doing our listening game! He knew he needed to work on listening.

For the rest of the class he was super attentive while we taught. It’s amazing what God can do through just one conversation with a child. Brenna Rawson

 

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Why She Acts the Way She Does

The girl rushed past us in the hall. We had just finished a character lessonDebora, Jordan and Joy in her class moments before, so I wondered why she was so upset.  Then I recalled an incident during the lesson when she had started to say something and didn’t get to finish. Could that have had anything to do with it?

A few minutes later I found her in the school office, with arms crossed and face clenched in a tough scowl. Pain and defeat filled her eyes. I decided to approach her.

“What was it you were going to say in class earlier?” I inquired.  Then I asked her why she doesn’t listen in class. I wanted her to tell me the real reason.

She welled up with frustration and anger. “I always get corrected!  I can never do anything right!” she said.

“So you don’t even try, right?”

She hung her head. We talked for a few minutes, and the Lord gave me the words to comfort and encourage her. I also challenged her to apologize to her teacher for her bad attitude.

Later, when we went back to her class to get some students who needed tutoring, she was one of the children selected for us to help. Just before we left the room, I saw her tugging on her teacher’s shirt and asking, “Can I tell you something?”

classroomHer teacher looked unamused, but as the girl whispered something into her ear, the teacher’s eyes began to light up. I couldn’t tell what she whispered, but I do know that the time we spent tutoring the girl went incredibly well.

Later I passed the same teacher in the hall, and she asked me how tutoring went. I told her what a good job her student did, and then I broached the topic of behavior.

“I think I may know why she acts the way she does.” I took a deep breath. “She really wants to please you and her peers, but she doesn’t feel she can do anything right. So I think she acts up just to impress.”

The teacher seemed surprised that this girl had actually opened up so much to me. We talked for over half an hour about ways to reach the students in her classroom and topics we could cover in the character lesson the next week.

I’m excited about making a difference in these students’ lives. They used to dislike having us there, but now they give us hugs as we leave. And the Lord has allowed us to reach out to their teacher, too!  God is at work, and I believe that if they’ll apply the things we’ve taught them in character classes, they will finish the school year stronger and smarter.

Please pray with me for this particular class, that they will ask about Jesus. That’s Who I really want them to know about and adore. Joy Roberts

Click here to read more about our mission to reach inner city children.

Walmart Greeter

He was just sitting there. He had a slight smile on his face. Something inside me told me to go talk to him. But I was at Walmart! I was there to shop, not witness.

Eliza teaching at school

Eliza teaching a character lesson to her kindergarten class at school

He was an employee, in charge of checking receipts. His name tag said “Doug.” I walked toward him, so nervous and afraid. What would I say? Then a question came to mind. “So what has God been doing in your life lately?” He looked up at me, and started to talk. He said that he was getting frustrated with people who try to steal. He had caught over four thousand dollars worth of merchandise being stolen.

“People do that because they don’t know the Lord,” I said.

He looked around, then back at me. He told me that he grew up in church, but that he now has a gambling problem. I told him I would pray for him, and then I realized it was time to go. I shook his hand, and told him it was nice talking with him. As I walked away, I called back, “I will be praying for you!” He looked at me and smiled again.

I got into the van, so thankful for this opportunity. I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again, but I know one thing: I will never forget the elderly man I got to witness to at Walmart. Eliza Nelson, Level 1 Intern

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Praise Really Works

Ricardo with students at Bible club

Ricardo with some of his students at Bible Club

At one of our Bible clubs we have seventeen little boys on our small group. That’s crazy! Every week we get more children. The kids are awesome, but one of the boys would not behave. Every week we had to give him disciplinary checks, and my teaching partner and I began praying for him. I wondered, “What is wrong with this kid?”

Then one week at the beginning of Bible club he began misbehaving again. God spoke to my heart and told me to praise him. I thought, “What in the world? This kid is not behaving—and now I’m going to praise him for it?” But I decided I would do it. I told the little boy, “Hey, today you are my new assistant.”

He said, “Really?”

I told him I was serious, and so now he was going to be my helper at Bible club.

He was so excited. And he behaved really well. “Wow,” I thought. “Praise really works!” Ricardo Verboonen, Level 2 Intern

What motivates us to do what we do each and every day? Click here to learn more about the vision of In The Gap

Character Based Correction

Joy-1When I agreed to tutor several third grade girls for an hour at school I had no idea what I was getting myself into. During our time together they had a terrible time listening to instructions, and there was an undercurrent of anger in the words that they spoke to one another. The girls went back and forth between snapping at each other and breaking down in tears.

I glanced at my teaching partner sitting at the other table with a group of boys, all listening and sitting up. What on earth? Why can’t these girls just act like them?

As incidents arose between the girls, I began to pull each one aside to talk to them one-on-one. I didn’t feel I was very good at character-based correction (addressing inward attitudes rather than just surface actions), but I knew it was what these girls needed.

The girls all acknowledged that they had not been demonstrating good character when I talked to them, and each agreed to apologize to the others for what she had said or done. But as they began to say “sorry” to each other it became evident that some of their apologies were not sincere. I explained to them that saying “sorry” by itself isn’t enough. We need to be willing to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness. The girls agreed, and each of them took turns asking the others for forgiveness.

I couldn’t contain the smile on my face. I know from personal experience that asking forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do. But they did it and I was so proud of them! Even though I felt I had no idea what I was doing in my conversation with these girls, God did, and He worked it all together for good. Joy Copu

Click here to watch the story of a girl who was changed for eternity.