Dear JP and the rest of the staff,
I am returning these two audio Scripture players for use in the field. Our Faithwalkers kids (Sunday school from preschool through eighth grade) have enjoyed learning about these players and how they are used, but the elephant really captured their hearts—and mine, too! Our practice has been to take offerings for one cause each semester of our sessions, so I am enclosing two checks—one from our Faithwalkers students and one from Bob and I. Please use the Faithwalkers’ funds for more Wildlife StoryTellers, and Bob and Arla’s check for Scripture players. JP, I would appreciate a personalized note from you for the kids, because we have always referenced you thought these several months. 🙂
Now for my “God story”:
I was getting ready to mail back your Scripture players and the elephant StoryTeller last week with our offering when we realized this elephant had a mission right here in Indiana. A sixth-grade girl who had been sporadically attending our Sunday school programming and our girls’ GEMS club on Wednesday nights lost her mom due to illness. This girl has a tough time in school, and she always found delight in coming to our church’s activities, where she found acceptance and security. When her mom’s health allowed, they were here for all events, and her mom shared with me that her daughter would often strengthen her faith with encouraging words about trusting God because He loved them. Since her mom’s health had deteriorated, we had not seen them in church for about five months. This girl’s father had never come to church, so he felt no need to bring his daughter now. Yet he is the one who called our church to let us know that his wife had died, and he gave permission for us to hold a memorial service for the family.
It was an easy decision to have the kids of Faithwalkers make cards for their classmate, but we were convicted that she was a very emotionally needy girl and lacked a strong family structure to give her spiritual guidance. How could we make an impact in that direction? That’s when we realized we had the perfect gift for her right in our hands—the elephant StoryTeller! I shared this with the Faithwalker kids on Sunday morning, and I could see in their faces that they “got it”—she was a suffering girl who needed to cuddle this adorably soft animal and hold it close to hear God speaking to her!
Last night after the memorial service, three of her classmates, her teacher, and I gave her a big box with the cards, a book, and the elephant. (Previously, she had been given her own Bible from our church.) When I showed her the elephant and asked if she remembered seeing it before, she did remember what was so special about it. Her face lit up, and she said it had a Bible thing in its tummy! (Her dad had walked up during this, and he just watched with tears in his eyes.) She shyly sat there as we shared some of the cards with her and spoke to her. Shortly after that we saw her walking around the tables full of people, and the elephant was the one thing she had with her! Our prayer for her is that her dad will at least let someone pick her up to take her to church, and at best, that he will choose to come with her!
I am sharing pictures of two of the five classes that made cards for her, and in each picture you will see the elephant as well. I hope this story will encourage you in your mission and in rejoicing with us for how God has better and deeper plans than any of us could imagine!
A special hug for JP and his family!
Serving our King together,
Arla Gabrielse, Faithwalkers Director, Community Christian Reformed Church