Prayer changes things

Alison W’s Story
Bonnie's Story
Ioan’s Story

Alison W’s Story (The prayer of a righteous man (or woman) ...)

I’d like to tell you about one of the teachers in a school where I was head-teacher. Although not her real name, I’ll call her Kristin.

Whenever I spent time in Kristin’s classroom, it clearly had a different ‘feel’ to it than many others. Not only did a sense of order and purpose exist, but the students behaved differently. There was a definite sense of teamwork amongst the class members. Her colleagues noticed it, and constantly remarked on it. These children were positive, happy and encouraging toward each other – a situation which is not typical of most K-6 classrooms!

Kristin herself treated each student in her care with respect and dignity. In her day-to-day interactions with her them, it was clear that she loved them. So one day I decided to talk to her about this. I wanted to know how she did it, as any teacher will tell you that there is always at least one in a class who is difficult to love. “You never seem to be impatient, you’re always even-tempered, and your class works as a team. How do you do it?”

Kristin laughed, then replied, “I pray! For these children, I am Jesus. I can’t carry that responsibility on my own. I commit each day to the Lord.”

I have since learned that Kristin employed some very deliberate strategies in ‘committing her day to the Lord’, one of which I will share with you, as it had a profound effect on me.

Kristin would always arrive early to school, to give her time to sit in her students’ chairs, and specifically pray for the child whose chair it was. She did this for four or five students every day, depending on how much time she had. She would pray that God would bless them that day, for their family members, for their friendships and for their academic progress. She would bring before the Lord any problems she knew the child was experiencing. She would also pray that she would really love them, especially the ones she found difficult to love, and that they might all come to know Jesus during their time at our school.

Clearly, this intimate time of talking to the Lord at the start of a busy day was what made the difference in Kristin’s classroom, but more importantly, in the way her students interacted with each other. I was dumbstruck. Wow, why weren’t all our teaching staff doing this?! I could only begin to imagine the difference it would make in our school.  After being a Christian for many years, God had given me a moment in which to marvel at what he can do, if I would just take the time to talk to Him!

God is interested in the little things. He listens, he hears, and he answers.

Commentary

We often forget Jesus’ words, “You have not, because you ask not.” Why as Christians do we not commit more to prayer? Why should we be surprised when our prayers are answered? Yet so often, we are! God can do anything and yet we often fail to recognise it.

Alison shared a strategy for praying for our pupils: Teachers have a class list. They put a tick next to the names of the great students and put a cross next to the name of the trouble makers. They are then encouraged to pray for the ones without any mark against their names. These are the students for whom the teacher feels luke-warm and miss out on the teacher’s attention, whether positive or negative.

Bonnie's Story

Within the first six months of my time in Ukraine, I was asked by a Christian Bible College to make presentations to students on Sexual Purity-Abstinence Education in several public schools in their city. The goal was to make contacts in these schools in an effort to open opportunities for evangelistic ministry to both teachers and students.

The last school on the list was an all male Vocational Trade school. After my translator and I arrived at this school, we were escorted to a very dark auditorium. I asked immediately whether there was electric power in this room. They were embarrassed to admit to their American visitor that there was none in the room. They hurried around attempting to find a way to supply it since I had a portable overhead projector with me. My translator and I began to pray!

At first, we waited patiently for them to come up with power. The auditorium was full of mischievous young men. Five minutes went by and the room was in a low-roar. My translator whispered to me: “You don’t want to know what these boys are saying!” She was fearful that we had lost any chance of regaining the audience because the room was now in full-blown chaos!

I told her we should just smile and no longer pray for electric power but for the Lord’s solution and His divine intervention! In order to get their attention, I began to sing a praise-chorus in a soft voice walking up the aisles without the translator. (I had made up my mind I was going to begin some sort of a presentation with or without power). After the room had quietened to some extent, I walked back to my translator and we started the Sexual Abstinence message with a graphic interactive skit (this had been a powerful tool in the previous seven schools). However, it just evoked more cursing, sneering, and total chaos again!

All at once, the lights came on and I grabbed the first slide (but not the one I normally began with) and projected it to the wall! I began my talk walking up the aisle looking these boys directly in the eyes, telling them I had grand-children at home exactly their ages and that I spoke truth to them as a concerned Babushka (grandmother).

I stopped and put my hand on the shoulder of one boy, asking him if he thought he was a person who could love and be loved or was he just a ‘dot’ as the graph on the slide showed? The room became ‘pin-drop quiet’!

Commentary

It may be important to make only one point in such chaotic circumstances and to stop there, not knowing how it is perceived. Only God knows. Sharing personalized ideas and getting in personal touch seemed to be a turning point. When facing disrespect, the person who you are and how you behave and act teaches.

Ioan’s Story

We have very many requests from parents to enroll their children in our school. They have to apply two years early in order to be sure they will get places for their children as there are only 50 students that can be enrolled each year.

A few years ago, 85 parents for the 50 approved places in the first grade. The only solution I could see was to go to the local inspectorate and ask for more 35 places. This seemed, at first sight, something impossible because in other schools the number of children was decreasing and many teachers were left without a job.

I decided to go and talk with the chief inspector. I was a bit nervous but I trusted my Lord. I started by telling him that we had the meeting with the parents of the future first graders and I told him that 85 parents had come instead of 50 and therefore 35 of them would be disappointed. He interrupted me (I thought he was about to show me out) and he said, “I know about your work in your Christian school. I have had positive feed-back from people who are not religious at all. I know what you are about to ask me and you have my approval to have another class of 28 students”. I was happy for his appreciation and that same afternoon I announced the parents that the issue was solved.

I understood once more that only being in God’s presence and bringing to His throne of grace your concerns you can get the peace you need in difficult situations.

Commentary

The surprising thing was that the request was granted without discussion. God guides. Often there are issues of concern, sometimes reluctantly we pray and God answers. In a difficult situation God gives us the wisdom to react appropriately.