Sonshine Reflections: Stories of our kids
Daniel’s Story – Jesus Loves Lame Ducks too!
I saw the sweetest little face looking longingly straight at me from one picnic table away. “Hi, I’m Miss Mari. These kids are having a snack and then we’re going to Room 10 for Good News Club.” As I was talking, a no-nonsense grandma came up. She slapped his cheeks with some lotion, grabbed his hand and said, “Daniel, let’s go.” “Say, I’m just taking these kids into Good News Club. It’s a fun Bible club. Can Daniel come?”
I’m his foster mother. His mom doesn’t believe in God. Daniel’s six and he can’t read at all. Do you read in Good News Club. I’ve got to come back in 20 minutes to get another boy…”
“Well, could you and Daniel just come for 20 minutes to see what it’s like; see if club would be good for him?”
I then put up my hand to Daniel’s shirt collar to pin on a nametag. He ducked! I guess he’s used to being hit. The foster mom walked with me to the room and over Daniel’s head she tells me his mom has sexually molested him and physically abused him. I guess that’s where his split lip came from, too.
Daniel sat in the front row center. He watched every move and tried so hard to learn the Bible verse which he got a prize for “almost” reciting. The foster mom stayed all through club, leaving only long enough to pick up another five year old. They all listened to the story of David: his sin, repentance and God’s forgiveness.
I closed with a story about a duck with one leg and the little old man who throws food to the flock of ducks but feeds the lame one out of his hand. God knows our hearts. He wants to take care of us. God loves us so much. God loves Amber, God loves Letisha and God loves Daniel.
What a smile! It was just like sunshine. We bowed our heads…and Daniel prayed.
The next week was Valentine’s week so I bought a little stuffed doggie for Daniel. When you squeezed the doggie’s tummy it said “I love you, I love you”. I looked for Daniel but he wasn’t there. I checked at the school’s office to see if he was sick. “No,” they told me, “Daniel’s mom got out of jail and took him back. He’s gone. He was just a little street boy, you know.”
Yes, a street boy Jesus loves. I kept the little doggie to remind me to pray for Daniel.
Randy’s Story – A Forever Friend & Mentor
Sometimes a simple event like going to camp can change a person’s life. This has been the case with Randy. Randy lived with mom and several other siblings in a one-bedroom apartment. There was no Daddy around to guide this boy. For the last few years he had been able to attend camp. Then one year he was selected to go to camp as a team staff worker.
Randy shone in his new role. He was such a willing worker that as soon as he finished one task, he would look for another job. The staff leaders were so impressed that they named him “Outstanding Teen Staff Member”. He was invited to attend back-to-back sessions that summer and was asked to return the following year as a PAID counselor.
Randy asked to meet with Miss Mari alone and told her how his life had been changed. He talked about the counselors who guided him and spent time with him. He was even able to lead his nephew to the Lord. He learned to spend time with Jesus in prayer and he found in Jesus a Friend and a Mentor for his life.
We were reviewing the Ten Commandments and the children couldn’t name the 10th one. “It starts with a ‘C’,” I prompted. One little boy raised his hand. “Thou shalt not eat candy?”
Lanette’s Story – Our God’s Bigger than Bullies
A principal in a low-income, needy area of town was desperate for something to help the neglected students in his school. He saw high-risk students whose lack of motivation and self-discipline was already marking them for failure. Lanette was such a student. In 5th grade she was already severely overweight and six-feet tall. Her father abandoned her as a baby, and she had a real attitude problem. It was such a problem that we considered not allowing her back in club, but instead, we prayed for her. Lanette began to change. She began to handle the teasing she got with humor. When she graduated from grade school she received an award for the most improved student of the school, testifying to the way the Lord can change lives. She returned to help with the younger students, treating them with motherly kindness and understanding.
John’s Story – It’s not Hopeless
John is trouble, but he’s trouble you can’t resist. He can make a joke out of almost anything. And he does! His lack of parental involvement comes from a dad who has just been released from prison and a mom who lives with another man who abuses John both physically and emotionally. Fortunately, he has a Christian teacher who care and invited him to the Good News Club (now called Sonshine Club). He had difficulty controlling his temper that caused his expulsion from junior high several times. This problem had the potential of preventing him from graduating or he could just drop out of school permanently. John was a child who could go either way. I wanted to spend more time with him, so I prayed that God would show me where he lived. I asked around and the other kids from club showed me his apartment. I wanted to take him out for hamburgers and encourage him to live a different life with God’s help.
Eventually, John asked Jesus into his heart at club. The next day, as soon as he saw his beloved classroom teacher, he yelled across campus, “Miss B., yesterday at club I accepted Jesus into my heart and I read my Bible to my dad.” This was a bold thing for a child like John to do. Perhaps his anger came from his small build or from his abusive home life, but the love of Jesus and the club teachers may have been his only hope for a changed life, as well as a lifeline out of his hopeless situation.
Samantha’s Story – Birthday Blues Become Sunny
I hugged her as she left the church bus. “Miss Mari, it’s my birthday tomorrow,” she said wistfully. She asked for nothing, but with those few words she reminded me that last year there was not cake, no presents, not even a card from Grandma. “O, Lord, remind me tomorrow to do something for this “little mother” of her three younger brothers and sisters,” I prayed.
Sure enough, I was driving down the hill for Good News Club at the Junior High and the Holy Spirit quietly spoke her name to my heart. I went tearing up the driveway, ran in, grabbed a card, put money in it, and drove to school. Her wonderful principal allowed me to go to the classroom to drop off her card. When I got to the classroom, I discovered she had been sent home early. Some bullies had been taunting her and threatening her until she became sick all over her clothes.
I drove to her apartment to finer her little tear-stained face so sad and dejected with no one to comfort her. Her day changed quickly as I gave her the gift and then took her to be my helper at the Good News Club activity.
Antonio’s Story – The Whole Family!
Teaching Antonio was such a privilege because he was the kindest of brothers to his special needs little brother. I still remember the end of a club one day when club teacher Priscilla came in with tears in her eyes and said, “The best thing just happened!”
Antonio and his brother had gone outside to pray and as Priscilla explained the way of salvation to them, their dad arrived suddenly to pick them up from club. Priscilla asked if she could have a few more minutes to explain how Jesus loved them. Dad gave his permission, and Priscilla began over again to lay out the plan of salvation with dad listening intently. When she concluded, she asked if they would like to pray and ask Jesus into their hearts. She was overwhelmed as dad bent on his knee with his boys to ask Jesus into his heart! The angels in heaven were rejoicing and we agreed that there is nothing o exciting as seeing both parent and child accept Jesus because then the whole family is changed.
John’s Story – Victory!
John came to Sonshine Club only a few times but in those few weeks he got what he needed. After hearing a lesson on how Jesus can take away our fears, John took the opportunity as many other kids did to go and pray with a club leader. He explained to Mr. B that every night something was in his room and it wanted to kill him. Mr. B took this seriously and told him to tell the “thing” to leave in Jesus’ name. The next week, John came back and said he told it to leave and it did but it keeps coming back. Mr. B encouraged him to tell it to leave in Jesus’ name and to not come back. Another week went by and John following Mr. B’s instructions came into club with his hands raised and said joyously “Victory!”
Mr. B wrote out some verses from Psalm 91 for John to read, out loud if necessary, to be encouraged and comforted. As Mr. B was handing the paper to John with the verses written, John’s mom came to the door and said that John wouldn’t be able to come back anymore…it was too much for her with all the kids doing different things after school. John got the Victory though!!!