Tuesday, August 31, 2010
When the story was finished Dad asked, “What do you think we can learn from this story?”
Rachael’s two brothers were older than her. One of them said, “If we ask God for help, He will help us!”
“Yeah,” said her other brother, “we can ask God for anything and He will give it to us.”
“If it’s good for us,” Dad said. “God answers every prayer. Sometimes He says, ‘yes’ sometimes ‘no’ and sometimes ‘wait’.”
Her brothers were both smiling, but Rachael didn’t feel happy. After saying their prayers, Rachael hugged Dad and climbed off her brother’s bed. She went to her room and climbed under her blankets.
Rachael thought for a long time, trying to remember when she had got an answer to prayer. She thought and thought. She couldn’t think of one time. Not once.
Later that night, still awake, Rachael heard Dad walk past.
“Dad?” she called.
The footsteps stopped and the door creaked open. A stream of light cut through the darkness of the room.
“Yes, Rach?” Dad said as he came into the room.
“Does God really answer our prayers?” Rachael asked.
“Yep!” Dad said in a happy voice. “He’s pretty good that way!”
Rachael didn’t say anything. Dad realized something big was going on in Rachael’s head. He sat down next to Rachael on the bed.
“Why do you ask?” Dad asked carefully.
“Well,” Rachael whispered, “God never gives me anything I pray for.”
“Really?” Dad asked.
“Yeah,” Rachael said. If the lights had been on, Dad would have seen a little tear trickle down Rachael’s cheek. She wiped it away.
“Well,” Dad continued cautiously, “what have you asked for that God hasn’t given you?”
“I dunno,” Rachael said.
“But this seems pretty serious,” Dad said. “Surely there must be something you are wanting from God that He isn’t giving you.”
“Not really,” Rachael answered. “I just can’t remember any time I prayed and God gave me what I prayed for.”
“Hmmm...” Dad said thoughtfully. “Well, what would you like right now?”
“Nothing,” Rachael said. “I’ve got everything I want.”
“Surely, there must be something you would like to ask God for?”
“nuh uh,” Rachael said.
“Nothing?” Dad asked again.
“Nothing.” Rachael stated.
“Ok,” Dad said, finding Rachael’s hands in the dark. “Quick, close your eyes!” Dad folded his big hands around Rachael’s little hands.
“Why?” Rachael asked in confusion.
“Just close ‘em,” Dad said. “We’re gonna pray!”
“Dear Jesus,” Dad started praying. Rachael quickly closed her eyes. “Rachael wants nothing. So, when we open our eyes, please give Rachael lots and lots of nothing! Amen.”
As Dad said amen, he reached over and flipped on the light switch. The room filled with light as Dad shouted, “Look! Look at it all, Rachael!”
Rachael was laughing. “Look at what, Dad?”
“Nothing!” Dad said, overjoyed. “Lots and lots of nothing! It’s just what we prayed for!”
Rachael knew what Dad meant. He was often a bit silly, but she understood him. If she asked for nothing, she’d get it! Rachael thought to herself, From now on, I’m going to pray about things all the time, so God can answer my prayers!
Rachael hugged her dad. “I guess I need to pray about more things, right Dad?” she asked.
“Yup,” Dad answered. “Give God a chance to answer!”
A few weeks later, Rachael and Dad were in a beautiful place called Mt Gambier in South Australia.
Dad had been asked to speak to the youth at a camp-meeting and it was Rachael’s turn to tag along. Dad let Rachael choose something she would like to see on the way home. She chose the Blue lake in Mt Gambier. Rachael and Dad had walked all the way around the lake that afternoon.
After dinner, Rachael and Dad went to the sinkhole to see the possums. The sinkhole is a collapsed limestone cave. A river, flowing under the ground, had eaten away the limestone over the years and the ground fell into the river. Now there is a big round hole. Someone built a staircase and planted gardens in the large sinkhole. People can go down into the sinkhole, see the gardens and the water, and feed the possums that come out at night.
It was still light when they arrived. Dad sat on a bench to wait for the possums. Rachael ran around the various paths in the sinkhole exploring ever nook and crevice. It was a very cool place. Finally, the sun went down and the possums came out. Rachael and Dad fed them grapes and Dad took some photos of the little furry creatures. They were really cute.
An hour or so later, Rachael was fast asleep in the motel.
“Rachael,” Dad shook her gently to wake her up. “I can’t find my wallet anywhere. I have cleaned out the car, looked through every bag and turned this motel room upside down! It’s not here. We can’t make it home without my wallet.”
“What are we going to do?” Rachael asked.
“I think it fell out of my pocket when I sat on that bench in the sinkhole,” Dad said. “It’s the only place left that I haven’t looked! Hop into the car, we’ve gotta go look.”
They were nearly finished with the 10 minute drive to the sinkhole when Dad said, “Rachael, I have an idea. You know how you said God never gives you anything you ask for because you don’t have anything you need?”
“Yeah,” Rachael answered.
“Well, I really need that wallet,” Dad said seriously. “We should pray and ask God to help us find it. Would you please pray, now?”
Rachael was surprised by her dad’s request. But not for the reason you may be thinking!
“Dad,” Rachael said as they pulled into the parking lot at the sinkhole, “I can pray again if you want. But, I’ve already prayed about it twice while you were driving.”
Dad turned off the car and turned to look at Rachael in the gentle light coming from the street lamps.
“Really, Rach?” he asked. “You’ve already been praying about it?”
“Yep,” Rachael said. “But I can pray again, out loud, for you.” And then she did.
When Rachael opened her eyes after the prayer, Dad was staring at her.
“What?” she said.
“I love you,” Dad said, smiling.
“I love you too, Dad,” Rachael said. “Let’s go look for the wallet!”
Rachael and Dad jumped out of the car, went down the long staircase into the sinkhole and, with their flashlight, found Dad’s wallet under the bench.
When they got back to the car, Dad said, “Rach, Could you pray and thank Jesus for helping us.”
“Ok,” Rachael said. “Dear Jesus, thank you so much for helping us find Dad’s wallet. And thank you for giving me something to pray about. Amen!”
Little Kwame was a new student in 2nd grade. Nearly everything was new to Kwame. His family were refugees from Ghana in West Africa. They had just arrived in Australia and were sent to live in Tasmania—a little island below the Australian mainland.
Kwame didn’t play with the other kids at recess. He couldn’t speak the language they were using and the games were all different from home. The teacher would tell students to ask Kwame to play, but he always shook his head. He didn’t want to play.
Because he struggled to read English, Kwame participated very little during class. The teacher tried to help Kwame as much as she could, but she had 24 other students as well. Kwame would open his books and try to read for most of the morning. But by lunch he was tired of English and would sit in the reading corner looking at picture books or just staring out the window for the rest of the day.
During the next few weeks, the teacher became more and more worried about Kwame. Would he ever start talking? Would he learn English? How long before he would read his books and do his work in class? She knew he could understand most of what she said to him because he had responded with a few words from time to time. The only way he was going to become comfortable speaking, reading and writing English was if he tried.
The teacher talked to Kwame’s mother one day after school. “Kwame needs to try,” she said. “He is a good boy, but he is shy. What can I do to help him?”
Kwame’s mother said, “Kwame is very talkative and lively at home. He just needs to be brave.”
Kwame was listening to the conversation and agreed that he would try to be brave. But, as the days went by, the teacher could see nothing was changing. Kwame needed help.
Then one warm afternoon, something completely unexpected happened. The students were sitting at their desks and Kwame was sitting quietly in the reading corner when a small bird flew into the room through an open window. It was a little brown sparrow. As the sparrow fluttered around the room looking for somewhere to land, the students all screamed and hid under their desks.
The little bird finally landed on a high bookshelf where it panted in distress. The teacher told the kids to be quiet. Then, just as everything was calming down, a sparrow hawk—much bigger than the little sparrow—flew in through the window!
This time it wasn’t just the kids that screamed. The teacher let out a yelp and dove under her desk.
The Hawk landed on a low bookcase between the reading area and the classroom. It scanned the room full of frightened kids, one scared teacher and one terrified sparrow. Clearly, the sparrow hawk had been chasing the sparrow and the little bird had panicked and flown through the open window on accident. The hawk had followed without considering what might be on the other side of the window.
No one noticed Kwame. He hadn’t screamed when the birds flew in. He hadn’t hidden under a desk. Instead, he had watched calmly. And now, as the sparrow hawk stared toward the sparrow across the room, Kwame stood up. He was directly behind the hawk.
The other kids stuck their heads out from their hiding places to see the hawk and were surprised to see quiet little Kwame sneaking up behind the sparrow hawk. The teacher peered out from underneath her desk. The entire class watched Kwame as he inched closer and closer to the hawk.
“Miss,” one of the students whispered. “Miss, make him stop! He will get bitten!”
Kwame took another step toward the sparrow hawk. His little hands were coming up behind the bird.
The teacher responded, “Shhhhh, I think Kwame knows what he is doing!”
And she was right! Kwame took one more step toward the sparrow hawk and with a lighting quick move wrapped his little hands around the wings of the hawk. The bird tried to bite his hands, but Kwame had grabbed just the right place and the hawk was unable to get at Kwame's little fingers.
Kwame walked to the window, held the hawk outside, and let go. His hands were back inside in another lightning quick move and the sparrow hawk flew away.
In the next few minutes, the students and teacher watched as Kwame coaxed the little sparrow down from the shelf and caught it, too. Five minutes after the two birds had flown into the classroom, they were both safely outside again.
Kwame had saved the day!
When Kwame turned back from the window, after releasing the little sparrow, he was the centre of attention. The students had a thousand questions for little Kwame. How did you do that? Have you done that before? Where did you learn to catch birds? Was it scary? What did the hawk feel like? Did it bite you?
Kwame listened to each of the questions and answered them in slow broken English. The students gave him time to form his answers. The words came slowly, and then faster and faster as Kwame became more confident. The teacher watched in amazement as little Kwame went from being a shy quiet boy to the talkative and lively boy his mother said he was at home.
Something had just happened that the teacher could have never planned. Little Kwame had been brave.
In fact, Kwame had been a brave boy all along. He just needed a couple of birds to help him prove it to everyone else. And once he did, no one ever let him be shy again. After school, Kwame’s classmates told their brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers the amazing story of brave Kwame. The next day at school everyone wanted to talk to Kwame. And they all listened as he answered their questions.
Later that week, when Kwame was shopping with his family, he saw one of his classmates. The other little boy tugged on his mom’s coat, “Mom, that’s him! That’s Kwame—the boy who catches hawks! He’s the bravest boy in our whole school!”
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