Sunday, April 27, 2014

Simon Says


As some of you are aware, each Spring our 8th grade Bible students at WCS participate in a Talents Project in my class. Based on Jesus' Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25, each student in March is given $10 and given four weeks to do good with the cash.They have to turn in a typed report on why and how they chose their method of spending, how it made a difference, and how they themselves were changed by the experience. The only restrictions are they cannot put the money in their Honduras/Haiti bottle or in the collection at their place of worship. It's a test grade. After I take up the projects and review them, I offer some of the eighth graders the chance to present their experiences in our middle school chapels. Several, all boys by the way, declined but ten accepted the challenge and shared their stories during our Tuesday and Thursday chapels last week. They did a good job as I knew they would- the six girls and four boys spoke from the heart to a rapt audience of 5th/6th/7th and fellow 8th graders as well as their teachers. I added a twist this year, based again on Jesus' parable. Our high school student ministry team selected what they believed to be the most effective use of the money combined with its presentation and awarded an additional ten dollars to that youngster. They chose Ally, who spent her time with and money on a cancer patient who doesn't speak English named Delfina. Ally spoke passionately about her project and was an excellent choice. Ally was surprised and appreciative of her honor and she's already planning how to use it. (On Thursday, she dropped a poem off on my desk she had penned about her new friend.)

But there is more to this story than just Ally, who by the way just killed it in her role as Biondello in our WCS Fine Arts' production of The Taming Of The Shrew this past weekend. After the announcement of Ally as the winner in chapel three days ago, M.J. and Simone, two of the student ministry team, wanted to talk to me. They told me how impressed they were with Simon's presentation and they asked to come by his class and recognize him as well. I thought it was an awesome idea and so the two of them, both favorite former students of mine, showed up fifth period and talked to Simon's class about Simon. They told the eighth graders they believed Simon, like Ally, did an incredible job and wanted to show their appreciation. The student minsters and their faculty leaders pooled their money, and Simone and M.J. gave Simon ten more dollars to wage the battle for doing what's right. His classmates cheered and I asked Simon if he would like to respond. He seemed a little flustered but he rose to his feet and uttered the two most appropriate words under the circumstances- "Thank You!" Then he sat down and we continued class but I know his world just changed some.

You see, Simon is from China and he really did not know what to do with his original investment. He's new to WCS and lives with a lady from our congregation. I was blessed to be able to baptize his mom into Jesus back in the Fall but she has long returned to China and I know that is very lonely for a middle school boy. But he did a nice job on his project and agreed to be one of those who stood in front of his peers in chapel. Simon was very nervous and asked me if he could go first on Thursday, an easy favor to grant. He paced back and forth as he told about how he spent his money in his second language. He found a list of sick and shut-in folks in our church bulletin and decided to brighten their lives. He purchased cards and postage and wrote six letters to the elderly recipients with one being personally dropped off by Simon himself. On Thursday, he shared his thoughts and the letters two of the ladies sent back to him along with a picture. In terms of delivery, Simon's talk was not what any speech teacher would call eloquent but in terms of sincerity and gut wrenching honesty, it was worthy of an Academy Award. And so when Simone and M.J. bestowed their honor on this young man from China, he crowned his prize with the perfect acceptance speech. Like Simon Says, 'keep it brief'....and keep it from the heart. He was two for two.

Applicable quote of the day:
''Speeches that are measured by the hour will die with the hour.''

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

www.hawleybooks.com
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

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