Friday, July 18, 2008


Maurice at Clevedon holiday programme, Auckland.

Maurice Sweetsur's photo.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008



NOTE. New Blog from Maurice Sweetsur - "Bible answers for kids" -
Who made God? Is there life elsewhere in the Universe? Why is my brother/sister nasty to me? When did God create the dinosaurs? Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Where is heaven?
These are just a few of the children’s questions that are answered in this Blog.

To find out more about my ministry to children, go to my main 'Blog' -

To view all my teaching resources, go to

To view only object lessons and Gospel illusions, go to -

To view Bible lessons and Teaching tips, go to -

To access "Bible answers for kids" go to

To access all my material on major teaching themes, check out the 'Special Blog' sites below :-

1. Creation.
2. Christmas.
3. Easter.
4. The Bible.
5. Prayer.
6. Hearing from God.
7. The Ten Commandments.
8. John 3.16.
9. Teaching Memory verses.
10. Gospel Illusions.
11. Object Lessons (using natural laws).
12. Lessons involving balloons.
13. Lessons involving fire.

Maurice Sweetsur

Introduction - Use of storytelling.

The telling of a good story remains the most effective way of imparting spiritual truths to children. Children will forget basic facts, but will remember a good story, especially if it is told in an interesting and exciting way.
Jesus is THE Great Storyteller of course, and remains our best example to follow. Read the Parables, and learn from the Master.

I have found that the best way to improve my storytelling is by listening to other storytellers. Over the years I have heard many excellent storytellers, and have learned something from all of them. I have sometimes been able to simply repeat the story in the same way that I heard it told. Other times, I have been able to adapt the story to suit my own class and personal storytelling preferences.

There are however certain tips that we can learn that will improve our storytelling, and I have listed some of them below.

1. Decide what is the point of your story? What truth do you want your class to learn? It is best to have only one point (or at most two) and plan your story around this.

2. Make your story exciting. Be dramatic. Move around the room as you are telling it. Change the tone and speed of your voice at appropriate times. If you are not excited about the story, then the children won't be either. Practice beforehand until you can tell it without having to pause to think "what comes next?"

3. Tell your stories in lots of different ways. Use plenty of props such as clothing, pictures and maps to make your stories more interesting. If appropriate, you could even incorporate a good object lesson or illusion into your story. If you are teaching a Biblical story, tell it "in context." I often take along a "Time Line", that lists all the major Biblical events in chronological order, to show the class where a particular story (especially if it is one from the Old Testament) fits into God's redemptive plan. Never lose sight of "the Big Picture."

4. If you are telling a story about a Bible character, consider 'becoming' that character. Dress up as the character, and tell it from his/her viewpoint.

5. Consider telling familiar stories from different angles - to keep the children guessing! e.g. Daniel and the Lion's den from the viewpoint of one of the lions, David and Goliath from the viewpoint of the Giant (don't mention Goliath's name till the conclusion), the Good Samaritan from the viewpoint of the Donkey etc. etc.

6. Involve the children as much as possible. There is much truth to the old Chinese proverb : -
"I hear, I forget."
"I see, I remember."
"I do, I understand."
Your class could be asked to copy specific actions that you do throughout your story, or to respond to phrases they hear by giving a certain response. You could ask for feedback from the children as your story is progressing. "How do you think Character A was feeling at this point?" " What do you think Character B was thinking here?" "What would you have done in this situation?" etc.

7. Consider telling your story by getting children to act out a play. Write out a simple script for them to read as they act it out. You don't have to stick strictly to the Biblical narrative, as long as you are getting your point across.

Think about telling Biblical stories in a modern setting. The Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan (e.g. the Priest, Levite, Samaritan, Donkey and Innkeeper become respectively a Politician, Sunday school teacher, Gang member, Motor Bike and Hospital Receptionist) have worked well for me.

Think about telling your story as a Puppet play. I usually record the story on cassette beforehand using different character voices, and then play it back as selected children operate the puppets.

8. Children love to hear personal stories about "Teacher", so tell a few, especially from when you were about their age. This is a good way of teaching children how they can learn from their mistakes, and about the Goodness of God.



A soldier gives up his life for his friends.
David and Goliath.
The lost sheep
A modern Prodigal
Jesus for tea.
A free pardon
Feeding the 5000.
God knows best.
Story of Blondin.
God uses children (Wesley Steelberg).
Message in a bottle.
Doing the right thing.
Doing your duty. (A story for Remembrance Sunday).
The healing of the paralytic (Mark 2. 1-12).
The Little Monkey.
Honouring your parents.
Jimmy and the six weird witches (Parts 1 - 3).
Jimmy and the six weird witches (Parts 4 - 6).
The portrait of the son.
Jo Jo and the Umbrella.
Cuthbert the clock.
"I give you me!"
The old oak tree.
Whistle down the wind.
The wise man.

Plays and Skits

David and Goliath.
The lost son.
The Good Samaritan.
The unmerciful servant.
The water punp.

Puppet plays.

What is Christmas all about?
What is Easter all about?
How do you get to heaven?
The lost sheep.
The lost son.
I don't believe in God.


King Neb.



A soldier gives up his life for his friends.

This story is taken from the film "Bridge over the river Quay." I cannot vouch for the details being 100% accurate, but you will get the overall picture.

During World war ll, some British soldiers were taken captive by the Japanese, and made to work very hard building a railway track through the jungle in Burma. One day, the Japanese guards discovered that an axe was missing from the storeroom. Naturally, they thought that one of the British soldiers must have stolen it. The camp Commander lined all the British soldiers up, and asked for the man who had stolen the axe to step forward, because they were going to take him away and shoot him. Nobody moved. "Very well" the Commander said. "I will give you one last chance. If the soldier who stole the axe doesn't step forward right now, I will choose one soldier at random and shoot him instead. Then, if the guilty soldier still doesn't own up, I will keep on shooting other men until he does so. Will the soldier who stole the axe step forward now." A soldier took one step forward. He was taken away and shot. 

Sometime later, the guards checked on the storeroom again. To their surprise they found that all the axes were present! They had made a mistake the first time they had counted. Nobody had stolen an axe. That British soldier had not stolen an axe. In fact, he had done nothing wrong. What he did do was give up his life so that his friends might live. What do you think the other British soldiers thought of their friend when they found out he had given his life that they might live? If, in some way, they could have communicated with him, what do you think they would have said? I think they would have said something like this: "Words cannot express how grateful I am to you. You gave your life for me. Now I am going to give my life over to you. Wherever you want me to go, I will go. Whatever you want me to do, I will do." I think that would have been the natural response.

What a wonderful act it was for that soldier to give up his life for his friends. But do you know that Jesus gave up his life for you BEFORE you were His friends (Romans 5.8). What is your response to Jesus? Do you say "so what" or " who cares." I know what my response was. As soon as I realised that Jesus had died for me, I said to him "Words cannot express how grateful I am to you. You gave your life for me. Now I am going to give my life over to you. Wherever you want me to go, I will go. Whatever you want me to do I will do.”

David and Goliath.
Using my imagination, I usually tell this story from how the Giant (I don't mention his name till near the end) might have seen things - e.g. a huge, strong, man loved fighting, so he joined his country's army and soon became their "Champion." His country went to war with their deadliest enemies, but the giant had a good idea - that he should challenge the enemy's champion to do battle in single combat, with the losing side having to surrender to the victors. With the approval of his King, this he did. - - - - - - - - Eventually someone came out to challenge the giant, but his joy at the prospect of a fight soon turned to disgust when he saw that it was only a boy that was confronting him.

Skit. I then perform a fun skit, playing both parts myself by running from left to right as the two combatants confront each other. When I am the giant, I put on a crown hat marked "Champion", pick up a cardboard sword, and use a deep booming voice. For the boy, I put on a cap, and use a little squeaky voice. Here is some suggested dialogue, but the important thing is to really "throw" yourself into the two characters. Children love it when you overact.

Giant. "Am I a dog that you come against me with sticks. Are you going to beat me with your sticks? Why, I am going to chop your head off, and feed your body to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field."

Boy. "You come against me with a sword and a spear, but I come against you in the name of the Lord God of Israel, and - - - and - - - and - - - and I'm going to chop your head off, and feed your body to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field - so there!"

Giant. " Why you cheeky young rascal, I'm going to whip you.
Boy. "No you're not. I'm going to whip you."

Giant. "I'm going to thrash you."

Boy. "No. I'm going to thrash you."

Giant. "Oh yes. You and whose army?"

Boy. "Just me and the Lord God of Israel. We are going to thrash you together."

Giant. "Your God won't be able to help you against me. Don't you realise who I am? I am the biggest. I am the greatest. I am the strongest. No one can beat me."

Boy. " Well, me and my God are going to beat you."

Giant. "That's enough of your cheek (lifting up his sword), prepare to die right now."

The giant took a stride forwards, but the boy reached down, picked up a stone, put it in his sling. The sling went round and round, the stone flew out and hit Goliath (because that was the Giant's name of course) on the forehead. Goliath crashed to the ground, David (the boy's name of course) picked up Goliath's sword and slew him.

And that day, David and the Israelites won a great victory over Goliath and the Philistines.

Question. How was it that David could defeat the giant? Was he bigger than Goliath? No. Was he stronger than Goliath? No. Had he got better weapons than Goliath? No. The answer is that he defeated the giant because he remembered that God was on his side, Interestingly, God was also on the side of the other Israelite soldiers - they were part of God's Special people -, but it didn't do them any good because they forgot that! When they looked at Goliath, all they saw was a giant - a big problem. When David came along, he saw that Goliath was big, but he also remembered that his God was far, far, bigger!

Fun story - The lost sheep.

Jesus wanted people to understand how loving and caring Father God in heaven really is, so he told a story about a Good Shepherd and a lost sheep. With your help, I am going to tell a story based on the one Jesus told, but the important thing to remember is that the Good Shepherd in the story is like God (or Jesus), and the lost sheep is like us.

I want you all to listen out for five 'special' phrases. Whenever you hear them, you have to all respond in the following ways.

Whenever I say 'little sheep', you all have to say "aaaah." Let's try it out. Little sheep. (aaaah). I heard one of you say "baaah." Let's try again. Little sheep. (aaaah). That's better.

Whenever I say 'run away', you all have to say "Oh no!" Let's try it. Run away. (Oh no!). That's right.

Whenever I say 'Lion', you all have to raise your arms to the side of your faces and say "Roar." Let's do it. Lion. (Roar). Good.

Whenever I say 'Wolf', you all have to cup your hands to your mouths and go "oooow." Let's practice. Wolf. (oooow). Very good.

Lastly, whenever I say 'Thistle', which is a sharp, jaggy weed, you all have to jump up from your seats and say "Ouch!" Let's have a go. Thistle. (Ouch). Excellent.

So this is the story about a Good Shepherd who had one hundred little sheep (aaaah). (You may have to prompt the children the first few times). The Good Shepherd loved his little sheep (aaaah), and took really good care of them. He made sure they had enough to eat and drink, and he protected them from any lions (Roar) that might be prowling around looking for juicy lamb chops for their dinners, or any wolves (oooow) that might be looking for some nice mutton stew for their suppers.

One night the Good Shepherd came home and began to count his little sheep (aaaah). He went (pointing at the children) 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . . 5 . . .6 . . . 7 . . . 98 . . .99. Oh no, I must have made a mistake. I know, I will start again, beginning at the other side. 1 . . .2 . . .3 . . .4 . . .5 . . .6 . . .7 . . .98 . . .99 . . . Who can tell me , how many sheep should there have been? That's right - 100. How many sheep did the Good Shepherd count? That's right - 99. Now, Here is the hard question. How many sheep were missing? That's right - 1. So the Good Shepherd said 'On no, one of my little sheep (aaaah) must have run away (Oh no)."

Then the Good Shepherd left the 99 little sheep (aaaah) who were safe, and went to look for the little sheep (aaaah) who had run away (Oh no). As he went, the Good Shepherd heard the sound of a Lion (Roar). The Good Shepherd said "Oh no, I hope that that lion (Roar) hasn't caught my little sheep (aaaah) who has run away (Oh no) and eaten him up for his dinner."

Then the Good Shepherd went a little further and he heard the sound of a wolf (oooow). The Good Shepherd said "Oh no, I hope that that wolf (oooow) hasn't found my little sheep (aaaah) and gobbled him up for his supper.

The Good Shepherd went a little further and heard another sound . This was like Baaah. The Good Shepherd said "I know that voice. I know who that is. That's my little sheep (aaaah) who has run away (Oh no)." So the Good Shepherd went to where the 'Baaahing' was coming from, and there he found his little sheep (aaaah). He had been caught in a thistle (Ouch). So the Good Shepherd got hold of his little sheep (aaaah), pulled him out of the thistle (Ouch), put him over his shoulder and carried him home.

The Good Shepherd was so happy at finding his little sheep (aaaah) that he invited all his friends, relatives and neighbours over to have a great big celebration party.

Who did I say the Good Shepherd was like in that story? That's right God, or Jesus. And who did I say the lost sheep was like? That's right us. The Bible tells us that we have all been like that lost sheep. Because of the wrong things we do, we get separated and lost from God. But the reason Jesus came to earth was to look for us and rescue (or save) us - not from a lion, wolf or thistle - from something far worse, our sins. And when just one boy or one girl is rescued by Jesus and brought back into God's family, all the Angels in heaven get excited and have a big party.

Lost sheep skit.

Maurice Sweetsur's photo.


With the aid of a sheep puppet, I perform this ventriloquism skit after telling the 'lost sheep' story.

Self. I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine. This is Shaun the sheep. Say 'Hello' Shaun.

Shaun. Baaah.

Self. Thank you Shaun. I have brought Shaun along to our class today because he tells me that he's the very sheep we were hearing about in the story - the sheep that ran away. Is that true Shaun?

Shaun. Baaah.

Self. Thank you Shaun, I thought it was. Now Shaun, will you tell these boys and girls your side of the story?

Shaun. Baaah.

Self. Thank you very much Shaun, I knew you would. Firstly Shaun, what made you run away?

Shaun. Baaah. I wanted to do what I wanted to do, and go where I wanted to go.

Self. That's like a lot of boys and girls today. They just want to go their own way, and don't listen to their parents, teachers, or even God. What happened after you ran away?

Shaun. It got darker.

Self. Well it does get dark at night Shaun, but what happened next?

Shaun. It got darker.

Self. Yes, and then?

Shaun. It got darker.

Self. I think we all understand that Shaun. It was very dark, but what happened next?

Shaun. It got colder.

Self. Oh I see. It was cold as well as dark that night. What happened next?

Shaun. It got colder.

Self. Yes, and then?

Shaun. It got colder.

Self. I am sure we all understand that Shaun. It was very dark and very cold, and you must have been very frightened by now. But what happened next?

Shaun. Then I heard a lion.

Self. Oh Shaun, that must have terrified you. What happened next?

Shaun. Then I heard a wolf.

Self. Oh Shaun! A wolf as well as a lion. What did you do?

Shaun. I ran and ran and ran.

Self. I'm not surprised. I think that if I were on my own on a cold, dark night and I heard a lion and a wolf, I would run and run and run. What happened next?

Shaun. I ran and ran and ran.

Self. Yes, and then?

Shaun. I ran and ran and ran and ran.

Self. Yes Shaun, but after you ran and ran and ran, and ran and ran and ran, and ran and ran and ran and ran, what happened next?

Shaun. I ran and ran and ran into a thistle.

Self. Oh Shaun, that must have been very painful for you. What happened next?

Shaun. All of a sudden, there was the Good Shepherd.

Self. That's right, he came out on that cold, dark night just to look for you. Did he give you a row for running away?

Shaun. No, he just picked me up and took me home.

Self. I expect that was when you got a row for running away?

Shaun. No, we just had a big celebration party.

Self. That's right. The Good Shepherd was so happy at finding you that he invited all his friends, relatives and neighbours to celebrate with him. What do you think of the Good Shepherd now?

Shaun. He's so good to me.

Self. Will you ever run away again?

Shaun. No, I will never leave the Good Shepherd again.

Self. Good, I think you have learned your lesson.

Shaun. I want to go back to the Good Shepherd now.

Self. We understand that Shaun. You don't want to be away from the Good Shepherd for too long. We will let you go back to him.

Shaun. Before I go, can you answer me a question.

Self. We will if we can Shaun. What is your question to us?

Shaun. Where does a sheep go to get a wool cut?

Self. I know where I go to get a hair cut, but where would a sheep go to get a wool cut? - - - - - - I think you will have to give us the answer Shaun.

Shaun. He goes to the Baa Baa's!

Self. Good bye Shaun.
Telling the "Lost sheep" story. (Click picture to enlarge).


That sheep got into trouble because he was disobedient to the Good Shepherd. It is exactly the same with us. When boys and girls get into trouble it is usually because they have been disobedient to God, or the people - like parents and teachers - that God has chosen to look after them. So if you don't want to get into trouble, the answer is simple - listen to your parents, teachers , and what God says in the Bible. Be obedient to what they say, because they love you, they want to protect you, and they know what is best for you.

A modern Prodigal.

I sometimes use the following true story to complement my teaching on the lost son. I came across it on the Internet sometime ago. Unfortunately I cannot recall the source so, as I will have to retell it here from memory, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of some of the details.

A girl from Glasgow (I will call her Agnes - a good Scottish name!) was unhappy living at home under the rules of her parents. One day she informed her parents that she was leaving home and going to make her own way in the world. Her parents loved their daughter dearly and were very disappointed to hear of her decision. However they saw that Agnes was determined to leave, so didn't try to stop her.

Thus Agnes left her parental home to 'lead her own life', and severed all connections with her parents. She never went back to visit them, never wrote, never phoned and never even sent them a Christmas card. Agnes' parents had no idea where their daughter was or how well she was doing with her new found 'freedom', but they continued to love her and long for her return. The years passed, and the father died. The mother, however, continued to long for the return of her daughter.

Meantime, Agnes has made a series of bad choices. She had chosen the wrong friends, and soon found herself living a lifestyle of alcohol, drugs and gambling. After a number of years Agnes found herself completely destitute, with no job, home or money. Each evening she would go along to a 'soup kitchen' run by a Glasgow church for homeless people.

One evening Agnes happened to glance at the church notice board and saw a photograph of a little elderly lady. She thought "That lady looks rather like my old mother", so she went to have a closer look. To her amazement, it was a photograph of her mother, with a simple message underneath which read. "Agnes, please come home, I still love you." Agnes could hardly believe what she was reading "My mother still loves me and wants me to come home, despite how I have treated her" she thought. Suddenly, just like the lost son in the Bible story, Agnes realised what a fool she had been leaving home, cutting off all communications with her parents and making all those bad lifestyle choices. She determined that she had to go home and see her mum immediately.

It was late in the evening and the buses had stopped running, and of course Agnes couldn't afford a taxi. Thus Agnes walked quite a number of mile all the way back to her old home, arriving in the early hours of the morning. Her first instinct was to knock on the door, but then she thought "No, that might frighten my mum if she hears knocking on the door at this time of the night" Agnes then instinctively reached for the doorknob and turned it. To her amazement, the door swung open.

Agnes began to worry. "Why was the door unlocked at this time of the night? Perhaps burglars have got in? Perhaps something has happened to my mum?" Making her way quickly to the bedroom, Agnes found her mother asleep in her bed. Waking her up, Agnes announced "Mum, it's me, Agnes. I saw your note. I have come home."

Mother and daughter embraced, then Agnes asked "Mum, I thought something bad had happened to you. Why did you leave the front door unlocked?" Her mother replied "Agnes, I have never locked the front door since the day you left - just in case one night you decided to come home!"

Conclusion. No matter how far our wrong choices take us away from Father God, his door is always open to us.

Jesus for tea.

The following story has been around for many years in various forms. The following is the version I use.

A lady once had a dream. In that dream, her telephone rang, and the voice at the other end said "this is Jesus. I am coming for tea with you this afternoon at 4 p.m."

The lady was highly excited at the thought of Jesus coming for tea with her. But then she thought "What can I give Jesus to eat? I know, I will bake him my favourite chocolate cake. Everybody likes that." And then she remembered that her house needed a tidy up. So she set to work making the cake and cleaning up the house.

At 3.30 p.m. the doorbell rang. "Oh no" the lady thought, "Jesus has come early and I still haven't finished vacuuming the carpet - and my cake is still in the oven." On opening the door, the lady discovered that it wasn't Jesus calling, but rather a man and his wife. Politely, the wife asked "I wonder if you could help us out? My husband lost his job a few months ago, and as we hadn't got enough money to pay the rent on our home we were evicted this morning. We have nowhere to stay, no money for food, and it is bitterly cold out here. Could you possibly give us a few dollars so that we could go and get a warm cup of coffee from McDonalds? The lady replied "I would like to help you, I really would, but I just can't spare you the time. I have Jesus coming for tea at 4 p.m. and I am not ready for him yet. Why don't you go and ask some of my neighbours? I am sure one of them will be able to help you. The lady closed the door and finished off her cleaning.

At 3.45 p.m. the doorbell rang again. "Oh no" the lady thought "Jesus is early. I have finished my cleaning, but my cake is still in the oven." This time the caller wasn't Jesus, but a young girl shivering in the cold in her thin, threadbare clothes. She said "It is bitterly cold out here and my clothes are so thin. I wonder if you have any old clothes you could let me have that would be a little warmer than these?" The lady thought for a moment, then said "I do have some warm clothes in my attic that I think would fit you really well. But I don't have time to look for them right now because I have Jesus coming for tea shortly, and the cake I am making him isn't finished yet. If you come back tomorrow though, I will have plenty of time to look out the clothes for you." The lady closed the door and finished making the cake. Now she was ready for Jesus.

At 4 p.m. the doorbell rang for the third time. "Just as I thought" said the lady to herself, "Jesus is right on time." This time, however, a young boy stood on her doorstep. "Please can you help me" he said, "I have had nothing to eat all day, and I am very hungry. I wondered if you would give me a little food?" The lady replied, "I have just taken a chocolate cake out of the oven. I am sure you would enjoy it - - - - but, I'm sorry I can't let you have a slice right now. Jesus is coming to have tea with me very soon. I have made this cake for him, and I couldn't possibly offer it to him with a slice already missing. If you come back tomorrow though, you can have all the cake that is still left." The lady shut the door and began to wait for Jesus' arrival.

At 4.30 Jesus still hadn't arrived. At 5 p.m. the lady was still waiting. At 5.30 she began to think that Jesus wasn't going to come. At 6 p.m. her telephone rang. The voice at the other end said "This is Jesus." "Oh Jesus" replied the lady "Where have you been? You were supposed to come for tea with me this afternoon. Why didn't you come?" Jesus replied "But I did come. In fact I came three times - and each time you sent me away with nothing!"

A free pardon.

Back in the 1830's an American by the name of George Wilson spotted a burglar trying to break into a Post office. Wilson pulled out his gun and shot the burglar, who subsequently died of his wounds. George Wilson was arrested and sent to trial for murder. He was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Wilson's lawyers petitioned the President, Andrew Jackson, on his behalf. On considering the nature of the case, President Jackson decided to offer Wilson a free pardon. Excitedly the lawyers took the good news to Wilson in prison. But amazingly the condemned man refused to accept the President's free parden. The country's legal experts weren't sure what to do in these circumstances, but on consideration concluded that, as Wilson refused to accept the free pardon, it was not valid. Therefore George Wilson was executed for his crime.

We have all sinned against a holy God and stand condemned. The penalty is death (separation from God). However because He loves us, God sent His only Son to pay the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross. This means that God is now able to offer each one of us a free pardon. However, just as in the case of George Wilson, that free pardon has to be accepted - otherwise it is not valid and we will have to pay the penalty ourselves.

Feeding the 5000.

When teaching well known Bible stories, I usually try to tell them from a different perspective - so as to keep the interest of the children who may be very familiar with them. (See Newsletter 17 - Overcoming discipline problems by making your lessons fun and exciting). This is the way I tell the familiar story of the "Feeding of the 5000."

Today I am going to tell you a story from the Bible. I don't know all the details, but I imagine it may have happened something like this.

Jimmy was really excited. His mum had finally agreed to let him go on the picnic. But this wasn't going to be any ordinary picnic. Jimmy was convinced that this would be the best picnic ever. Why? Because the man everyone was talking about, the man who was going round from town to town performing miracles and healing the sick, was coming to have a meeting in a large field near Jimmy's own village. And everyone that Jimmy knew was going to be there. Perhaps Jimmy would even see a miracle.

Jimmy got up very early on the morning of the great meeting, had his breakfast, and set off for the field carrying his picnic lunch that his mum had prepared for him. But when Jimmy got to the field, he groaned. "Oh no" he thought "I won't be able to see anything." Even though it was still only about 7 a.m. thousands of people had already gathered to see this famous man, and Jimmy thought that being so small he would not have a good view of what was happening.

Jimmy's size, however, turned out to be to his advantage. Being small and agile, Jimmy managed to weave his way through the large good-natured crowd until he got all the way to the front - and sat down right at the feet of Jesus!

Jimmy listened intently as Jesus began to teach the people about the Kingdom of God, about how he, Jesus, had been sent by God to show people how much God loved them and about he was going to give up his life so that anyone could be forgiven and become God's forever friend. Jimmy didn't understand all that Jesus was saying at the time, but there was something in the way he said it that kept everyone spellbound.

After a while, Jesus asked for any sick people to come to him. Jimmy watched in amazement as Jesus healed them all - the blind, the deaf, the dumb, the lepers. the paralysed - - - - -. Suddenly Jimmy noticed something. It was beginning to get dark. He had been at the field all day long, and he had been so engrossed in what Jesus was saying and doing, that he had even forgotten to eat his picnic lunch!

Then Jimmy noticed that two of Jesus' disciples were talking loudly to each other.. Andrew said to Philip "Phil. What on earth are we going to do?" Philip replied "I have no idea Andy. Jesus has asked us to feed all these thousands of people, but we haven't any food." "I know" Andrew replied "But how can we tell Jesus that we can't do what he asked?" "Wait a minute" said Philip. "I have an idea. Why don't we ask all these people if they have any food that they are willing to share?"

Just then Jimmy remembered his uneaten picnic lunch. Rushing up to Andrew and Philip, he said "You can share my lunch if you wish." looking in the picnic basket, Andrew replied "That's not very much. But at least it's a start. Now, let's go and ask all the other people if they have any food." But nobody else had. They either did not bring any food with them, or if they had, they had eaten it all earlier in the day.

Disappointedly Andrew said "Come on. Let's show this boy's lunch to Jesus. At least Jesus will see that we have tried to get some food." Approaching Jesus, Andrew said "We have asked everyone if they have any food to share, but this boy is the only one who has. It's not very much. It is only two fish and five small loaves." Looking into the picnic basket, Jesus replied "That's enough." Jimmy was stunned. What did Jesus mean "That's enough." His lunch was hardly enough for himself, let alone all those thousands of people.

Jimmy stood and watched in silence as Jesus got his disciples to get the people to sit down in groups of about fifty. Then to Jimmy's astonishment, Jesus took one of his little fish, gave thanks to God for it and broke it in half. But to everyone's amazement, the two halves of the fish were each as large as the original fish! Then Jesus took one of the halves, broke it again - and the two new pieces were still as large as the original fish. Jesus kept repeating the process, and soon there was a large pile of fish. Jesus did the same with the second fish, and then with each of the five loaves.

There was a stunned silence as everyone watched the amazing miracle happening right in front of them. But then Jesus told his disciples to start giving out the food. And the Bible says that everyone had enough to eat. In fact when the whole event was over and the disciples went round collecting up all the scraps of fish and bread, the ended up with twelve basket's full!

My, that was a day that Jimmy would never forget. Wait until he got home and told his mum all that he had seen and heard. All that Jesus had taught them about the Kingdom of God, and all those amazing healings. But the best thing of all was that miracle at the end when Jesus had taken two fish and five loaves and multiplied them into enough food to feed thousands of hungry people. But the very, very best thing of all was that it was his fish and loaves that Jesus had used for the miracle!

Note. You may wish to incorporate a little acting into the telling of this story. For example, Jimmy weaving his way through the crowd, and the sick people being led or carried to Jesus.


The Bible tells us that God does not Change. Hebrews 13 v. 8 says that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." The way that God works on the earth today is the same way that He worked two thousand years ago when he was here in bodily form. God uses people to bless other people and meet their needs. In the same way that He used that boy's picnic lunch to feed all those people, He uses whatever we are prepared to give him to bless others - if we give it willingly, just like the boy in the story.

You may only have a small amount of money, but if you give it willingly to God, for example put it into the church collection or give it to another good cause, He is able to take it and make even your small amount go a long, long way.

What about your time? Suppose you decide that instead of playing or watching T.V. one evening, you will spend some of your time helping Mum with the housework, helping Dad in the garden, taking a friend's dog for a walk, or doing some shopping for an elderly neighbour - then God is able to use your time to bless many people.

How about your talents? Suppose, for example, you find that you are good at playing the piano. If you say "I am not going to play the piano for my own enjoyment, or to entertain my friends, or even to earn myself lots of money. I am going to give my talent back to God, and let him direct me as to when and where I use my talent - He will be able to bless lots of people through it.

So, you don't have to be old to be used by God. (And I am glad about that!).
You don't have to be clever to be used by God (And I am glad about that!).
You don't have to be rich to be used by God. (And I am certainly glad about that!)
All you have to be is like that boy in our story - WILLING. Willing to give to God whatever you have. If you are, then there is no limit to what God can do through you.

Who can tell me, what is the very best thing we can give to God? Better than our money, better than our time, better than our talents? That's right. Our love, or in other words Ourselves. The best thing anyone can do is come before God and sincerely say "God, I give you all of myself. Not just my money, time and talents, but all of me. Whatever you want me to do, I will do it. Wherever you want me to go, I will go." If that is your attitude, there is no limit to how God can use you to help establish His Kingdom on earth - and there is nothing more wonderful than being used in that.

Story - God knows best.

Many years ago an Irish girl was born with blonde hair and brown eyes. She wished, however, that her eyes were blue like all her brothers and sisters - she just didn't like looking different from them. One day she read in her Bible where Jesus promised to give her whatever she asked for. That night she excitedly prayed, asking God to change the colour of her eyes to blue. The next morning she expectantly looked in the mirror to check the colour of her eyes and, to her great disappointment, found them still to be brown.

Somewhat puzzled the young girl consulted her mother. "Why will God not give me blue eyes like my brothers and sisters?" Her wise mother replied "God knows best. He has given you brown eyes for a reason. God has planned your life out even from before you were born, and perhaps one day you will discover why He chose to give you brown eyes."

The years passed, and that Irish girl became a Missionary to India. To her horror she discovered that young children were working as slaves in a factory near where she now lived. She knew that she must do something about it. Therefore she disguised herself as a native Indian, blackening her blonde hair with boot polish, browning her face and arms with coffee, and putting on a Sari dress.

Boldly the disguised missionary walked past the factory guards and managed to smuggle a number of the smallest children out by hiding them under her loose fitting dress.

Later, when this event was being recounted to some friends, one of them exclaimed "Isn't it lucky that you have brown eyes and not blue eyes like all your brothers and sisters. No-one can disguise the colour of their eyes, so if you had blue eyes you could never have fooled the factory guards by passing yourself off as an Indian!"

Was it "luck" that that Irish girl was born with brown eyes? I don't think so. I believe that God gave her brown eyes for a reason. God "knows the end from the beginning." He knew that she would need to have brown eyes all those years later.

Sometimes we may pray and ask God for something. And although it may appear that there is no good reason why He shouldn't grant our request, we don't get what we asked for. At those times we need to trust God and to remind ourselves that, as with the case of the Irish girl, He sees "The big picture." Whereas we see only a little part of our lives, God sees all of it - past, present, and future. And only He knows what is really best for us.
Story - Blondin.

In 1860 the famous French tight-rope walker Blondin walked across the top of Niagara gorge. The huge crowd that had gathered to watch the feat applauded loudly. But them Blondin challenged them "How many of you believe that I can walk back across the rope carrying a man on my back?" Everyone put a hand up. They all believed that Blondin could do this. "Right" said Blondin "Which one of you is going to be that man?" Everyone's hand went down!

Although everybody in the crowd really believed in their heads that Blondin could carry a man across that rope, not one of them believed it in their hearts and were prepared to be that man and commit themselves to the tight-rope walker.

This story is a good illustration of the difference between head and heart belief. Likewise, many people believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for their sins, but they are not prepared to commit their lives totally to Him. They believe with their heads, but not with their hearts. The Bible makes it clear, however, that head belief will not get us into heaven. Heart belief - a total commitment to and trust in Jesus alone - is what is needed.

God uses children - the story of Wesley Steelberg.

Almost 100 years ago young Wesley Steelberg was on his own in the basement of his house doing his weekly chore - cleaning it up. It was a job he didn't really like, but he knew he had to be obedient to whatever his parents asked him to do. Suddenly Wesley heard someone calling his name "Wesley, Wesley." "That's my Dad" thought Wesley "He's the only other person in the house right now." Ascending from the basement, Wesley approached his dad. "Yes dad, what do you want?" His dad replied "What do you mean, what do I want?" "You called me." responded Wesley. "I most certainly did not " replied his dad, "Now get back down to the basement and finish your chore."

Feeling rather puzzled, Wesley returned to the basement "I'm sure someone called my name, but if it wasn't my dad, who could it be?" thought Wesley. Wesley had hardly started work again when he heard the voice a second time "Wesley, Wesley." "That's definitely my dad this time" thought Wesley as he came up from the basement again. "Yes dad, you definitely called me this time" said Wesley as he approached his dad. Wesley's dad began to look rather angry. "I did not call you" he retorted "If this is some trick of yours to get out of cleaning the basement, it's not going to work. Now get back down those stairs and finish your job."

Back in the basement, Wesley was beginning to feel a little scared. If his dad hadn't been calling out his name, who could it have been? "Wesley, Wesley" came the voice for the third time. A rather frightened Wesley ran up the basement stairs, three at a time! "You've been kidding me" said Wesley as he came up to his dad. "Please tell me you're having a joke with me. You've been calling out my name, and then pretending it wasn't you?"

Wesley's dad was just about to send his son back to the basement when he suddenly remembered a story that he'd read in the Bible about a little boy called Samuel who was about the same age as Wesley. Samuel worked in God's temple for the High Priest, Eli. One night while in his bed Samuel heard someone calling his name. He thought it must be Eli, but Eli said that it wasn't and sent Samuel back to his bed. Twice more, Samuel heard his name being called. On the third occasion, Eli worked out what must be happening. If he wasn't calling Samuel, it must be God! So Eli told Samuel to go back to his bed, but if he heard his name being called again to say "Speak Lord, your servant is listening." That is what happened, and God did speak to Samuel in an audible voice - and told him lots of things that were going to happen to Eli's family.

Wesley's dad thought "If God could speak to Samuel in an audible voice, perhaps He also wanted to speak to Wesley in the same way." Thus Wesley was instructed to return to the basement, but if he heard his name being called again to say "Yes God, what do you want?"

A fourth time Wesley heard his name being called "Yes God, what do you want" he replied. And God did speak to him. He said "I want you to go to your next door neighbour and tell him that I love him and sent my Son, Jesus to die for his sins." Wow! Not only was God speaking to him, He was actually giving him a job to do - and there is nothing more important than being used by God. There was only one problem. Wesley didn't really like his next door neighbour, because he was a bit of a 'grumpy' man. However Wesley reasoned that if God was telling him to go to the man, it must be important, so he was obedient.

Wesley knocked on his neighbour's door, and asked to see the man. However, he was told that he couldn't do so because the man was very sick. In fact, he was not expected to live for much longer. Wesley pleaded to be allowed to see his neighbour, and eventually was allowed into his bedroom to deliver God's message. "God has sent me to tell you that He loves you, and sent his Son, Jesus to die for your sins." On hearing the message, the sick man immediately burst into tears.

As it transpired, that man had lived all his life as though God didn't exist. He just lived a very self-centred life. In fact, he wasn't even sure if God was real. But when he got sick and realised that he was dying, he became very worried because he didn't know what would happen to him after he died. So that very day he had prayed for probably one of the first times ever. His prayer was "God, if you are real, if you really exist, send someone to tell me about you." And God heard and answered his prayer. God didn't send a famous preacher to the man, or even the local Pastor. He sent the little boy from next door!

That night the sick man repented of his sins and gave his life to Jesus. Shortly afterwards he died, and we believe he went straight to heaven, not because he had led a good life, but because, in the end, he had put his trust in Jesus.

When Wesley Steelberg grew up, he became quite a famous preacher, and used to speak to thousands of people about Jesus in his meetings. But God first began to speak to and use Wesley while he was still a young boy. This reminds us that you don't have to be old (or clever, or rich) to be used by God. You only have to be one thing - Obedient, just like Wesley.

God can speak to us in many different ways (see Teaching tip 16 - How God speaks to us {Newsletter 28}). The way He choses to speak to us is not important. The important thing is: Are we like Wesley and obedient to what God says?

Story - A free pardon.

I have heard teachers tell children that if they accept Jesus as their Saviour, God will find them "not guilty" of their sins. That is not true. However, what He does offer us in Jesus is a FREE PARDON. I try to get this truth across by telling the following story :-

Two schoolboys were great friends, doing many things together and generally enjoying each other's company. When they left school, however, their lives diverged. The first boy went to University, studied hard and qualified as a lawyer. In fact, eventually he became a Judge. Things didn't go so well for the second boy. He had little interest in study or work, got into 'bad' company and ended up pursuing a life of petty crime.

One day this second man was caught trying to steal some goods from a store. He was charged and sent to trial for his crime. Not really having much choice, he pleaded guilty. However, the Judge at his trial happened to be his old school friend! What would the Judge do? Would he be lenient towards his old friend and let him off, or would he demand that he pay the penalty for his crime?

Summing up, the Judge declared "You are guilty of this crime, and the law demands a fine be paid of $1,000." Then, to everyone's amazement, the Judge reached inside his pocket, pulled out his wallet, counted out $1,000 and paid the fine himself. Nobody could complain because the full requirements of the law had been met, but the guilty man went free because the Judge himself paid the penalty.

In the same way we are all guilty of breaking God's laws. But God (our Judge) paid the penalty for our sins Himself by becoming a man and dying on the cross. So now, by accepting what He has done for us, we can receive His free pardon and be declared righteousness in His sight.

n.b. See Object lesson 3, Receiving Jesus (Newsletter 3).

Story - The true picture of your life.

A Christian once had a dream in which he died and went to heaven. There to greet him was St. Peter, who gave him a quick tour of his beautiful new home. Then St. Peter said "Do you like videos?" Rather puzzled, the man replied that he did. "Good" said St. Peter "I am now going to show you a video of your whole life." St. Peter led the man into a sumptuous room, made sure he was comfortable, and left him to watch the video.

The video really was of the man's life, beginning from soon after he had been born. At first the man enjoyed watching it because it showed him interacting with all his old friends, most of whom he hadn't seen for many years. The video showed all the acts of kindness the man had shown, beginning from when he was only a young boy - sharing his toys, including others in his games, helping out at home and at school, comforting people when they were sad, giving money towards good causes, spending quality time with his children etc. etc. As the video progressed, however, the man began to feel rather uneasy.

The video concluded, and St. Peter returned. "Did you enjoy the video of your life?" he asked. The man replied "But that wasn't a true picture of my life. It showed all the good things I did, but it omitted all the bad ones. It's an edited video. It isn't a complete picture of my life." "Oh yes it is", replied St. Peter "When you did do bad things, the moment you said 'sorry' to God, they ceased to exist. And you can't make a video of something that doesn't exist!" What you just saw really is the true picture of your life.

A story for Remembrance Sunday - Doing your duty.

At sixteen years of age Ronald Heys was too young to join the armed forces, but he did want to play his part in the defence of Britain during those dark World war ll days when many towns and cities were under attack from the German bombers. Thus Ronald volunteered to be a messenger between the Fire Service headquarters and the various fire depos, in his home town of Bootle, near Liverpool.

One dark evening when the "blackout" was being enforced, Bootle was under attack from 'fire' bombs. Ronald was given a message for one of the depos. and set out on his bicycle to deliver it. On his way, he crashed into a pile of rubble and glass. Although cut and bruised from his accident, Ronald managed to continue his journey and get his message delivered.

Ronald was then asked to deliver a second message, to which he gladly agreed. This time Ronald crashed his bicycle into an abandoned vehicle, which he didn't see in the dark. However the boy still managed to continue his journey and deliver his message.

For the third time that evening Ronald was asked to deliver a message, to which he readily agreed. This time he crashed into a bomb crater, but once again managed to continue on and deliver his message.

Ronald was fairly badly injured by now, but another message came in and as Ronald was the only person available to deliver it, again he volunteered. This time a bomb fell quite close to Ronald, and he was thrown from his bicycle by the shock wave. But nothing was going to stop Ronald that night, and he managed to deliver his fourth message. Having done that, the first thing he said was "Any more messages, Sir?"

Ronald was awarded the British Empire Medal for his bravery that night. But when anyone commended him for what he had done, he would reply "I was only doing my duty."

Because of Ronald Heys and many more like him who simply "did their duty", Britain was saved from tyranny.

Conclusion. Jesus wants us to do our duty to God and to others. How do we do this? Jesus summed it up this way :- "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind, and love your neighbour as yourself" (Luke 10.27).

In other words to do our duty is to put God first in every area of our lives, and to treat others as we treat ourselves. And you all love yourselves! Do you lie to yourself? No. Do you hit yourself? No. Do you steal from yourself? No. You are all good to yourselves. If you are thirsty, do you say "I can't be bothered to get myself a drink right now? No. You just go and get one. In the same way that you are good to yourselves, you should be just as good to others. That is loving your neighbour. That is doing your duty.

Story - The healing of the paralytic (Mark 2. 1-12.).

Maurice Sweetsur's photo.

I usually tell this story using "Ali Bongo's Square to cross" which is obtainable from Children's Ministry Today ( ).A good alternative is to tell it from the viewpoint of the paralytic:-

Jimmy woke up and groaned "Oh no" he said, "It was only a dream." In his dream Jimmy had been having a great time running and jumping about in the hills above Capernaum. Jimmy had groaned because this was something that he couldn't do now. When he was much younger there was nothing that Jimmy liked better than to explore the hills above his home town, but then, little by little, his whole body began to get stiffer and stiffer until it reached the point where he couldn't even climb out of his bed mat on his own. He was completely paralysed.

Bad as things were for Jimmy, they could have been worse, because he had four good friends who came to visit him every day, do his housework, and sometimes carry him out on his mat to go for a picnic. Suddenly there was a knock at the door.

"Come in" called Jimmy, and his four friends, Joe, Matt, Andy and Pete entered his house.

"You look rather glum" said Joe. "Is anything wrong?"

Jimmy told his friends about the dream he had just had. "That is something that I will never be able to do again" he concluded.

"We believe you will" declared Matt. "We believe that God will heal you, and you will then be able to do all the running and jumping you like."

Jimmy replied, "I do believe God does heal people, but if He was going to heal me, I am sure He would have done it a long time ago."

"No, you don't understand" said Andy "Jesus, who people say is the Christ, sent from God, is here in Capernaum. In fact he is having a meeting in a house just down the road. We believe that if we take you to Jesus, he will heal you."

"I am not so sure of that" replied Jimmy.

"Just trust us" said Pete.

And so Jimmy's four friends carried the paralysed man, on his mat, down the road to the house where Jesus was. But when they got there Jimmy groaned "I knew this was no good, you will never be able to get me anywhere near Jesus with all this crowd." Jimmy had a point. Jesus was so popular, that the whole house was crammed full of people. Those who couldn't get in were trying to peer through the windows or push their way in through the door.

"We're not giving up now" said Joe. "I have a plan."

Jimmy lay back on his mat and watched in amazement as his friends carried him round to the back of the house, climbed up the stairs onto the roof and began to pull up the roof tiles.

"What on earth will the owner of this house think" thought Jimmy, as the hole in the roof got larger and larger. "We will all get in big trouble."

Soon the hole was large enough, and the four men lowered Jimmy, still on his mat, down through the hole, right to where Jesus was teaching the crowd.

"Oh no" thought Jimmy. "It is me that will get in trouble for that hole, because I am down here and my friends are still on the roof." But suddenly Jimmy cheered up. Jesus was looking straight at him, and was smiling. He didn't seem to mind about the hole. Jimmy thought "I think I am going to be healed after all. Jesus will probably heal me and tell me to get up and walk."

But Jesus looked at Jimmy and said, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

Jimmy groaned. "What have my sins got to do with anything. Doesn't Jesus realise that I am here because I need to be healed?" But Jesus doesn't make mistakes. He knew the paralysed man needed to be healed, but he saw an even greater need - to have his sins forgiven and get right with God.

Suddenly there was a distraction. Some of the religious leaders in the crowd became angry with Jesus, thinking to themselves "Only God can forgive sins. Jesus is making himself equal with God by telling this man that his sins are forgiven."

But Jesus knew what they were thinking. He turned to them and said "What is easier for me to say 'Your sins are forgiven' or 'Take up your mat and walk'? But I have said this that you may know that I have authority on earth to forgive sins." Wow, there Jesus went again, claiming equality with God.

Jesus turned back to the paralytic and said "Take up your mat and walk." Jimmy felt strength seep into his whole body. He began to move his arms and legs. He sat up, then stood up. He picked up his mat and walked out - to the thunderous applause and cries of amazement from the crowd.


When the four friends lowered the paralytic through the hole in the roof, the Bible says "When Jesus saw their faith, he said "Son your sins are forgiven" and then later on "Take up your mat and walk."

What does the Bible mean by saying 'their' faith? That's right. Jesus saw the faith of the paralytic's four friends. The man was forgiven and healed because of his friends' faith. We can bring our friends to Jesus today - through prayer - and ask Him to meet their needs, if we have a determined, confident faith in Jesus, that He will do what He has promised to do.

What does the Bible mean by saying Jesus 'saw' their faith? How can you see faith? Surely faith is something inside us. Isn't It what we believe? Yes, it certainly is what we believe, but if our faith is genuine, our words and actions will reflect what we believe. Jesus saw what those men did. He saw the great efforts they had gone to get their friend to him. And that is the sort of determined, stop at nothing, faith that Jesus rewards. If we really believe Jesus will meet our needs or the needs of our friends or relatives, then we will be like those four men and our words and actions will match up to what we believe.

Note. Object Lesson 2 (Newsletters 1 and 48) "Faith (A water experiment)" is a good complement to this lesson. Or you could also use O.L. 61.

Story - "Hank"

Preparation. This is a story that also incorporates an object lesson (O.L. 64 - Jesus cleanses us from sin). I have used it myself many times, and the response has always been good.

You will need a white cloth handkerchief, folded to one sixteenth its full size - i.e. about 10 cm. square, a bottle of iodine, and two drinking glasses, marked "Good deeds" and "Jesus" respectively. In the "Good deeds" glass, add water, in the "Jesus" glass, add either a solution of sodium metabisulphite, or a colourless bleach.

Story. I want to tell you a story about a boy named "Hank". (Show the folded handkerchief). Hank was a typical boy, and liked doing things that other boys like going to school. "Who likes going to school?", doing his homework. "Who likes doing their homework?", and playing games. "Who likes playing games?"

But, just like a lot of boys (and girls), Hank sometimes did some naughty things. "Have you ever done any naughty things?"

One afternoon, Hank came home from school to find that his mother had made a big pile of his favourite cakes. His mum said "Hank, don't you dare touch those cakes. We are all going to share them together for tea. I am going out to the shops now, but don't you eat any of those cakes while I am away."

Hank was left alone in the kitchen with his favourite cakes. And that is when he made his first mistake. Instead of going to a different room where he wouldn't be tempted, he remained in the kitchen - looking at, and thinking about those delicious cakes. Eventually the temptation was too great for Hank, and he ate a cake - - - - and then another, and another, and another - - - until they were all gone!

When we do wrong things, like stealing, it spoils our relationship with God, and makes us dirty on the inside. (Put the handkerchief over the top of your iodine bottle, and invert it - leaving a brown stain).

When Hank's mum came home, and found that the cakes had been eaten, she said to Hank. "Hank, I told you not to eat those cakes." But hank replied, "It wasn't me mummy, I didn't eat the cakes." Hank lied (Make a second stain on your handkerchief). Then Hank continued "It was my brother that ate the cakes." Hank tried to put the blame on someone else (Make your third stain). When Hank's brother found out what he had been saying about him, they ended up having a fight. (Make your fourth stain).

Eventually, Hank realised all the wrong things he had been doing, and that this was making him dirty on the inside. So this is how Hank now saw himself. (Hold up the handkerchief with the four stains). "But how did God see Hank? Because this is what is really important. This is how God saw Hank. (Completely unfold the handkerchief to show all the stains - 64 of them, all equally intense). God not only saw the wrong things that Hank had just done, He also saw all the wrong things Hank had ever done - because Hank had never been forgiven, and these stains (what the Bible calls sin) were still spoiling Hank's life.

Hank had a friend who told him that to be forgiven and get cleaned up on the inside, he had to do lots of Good deeds. So hank did. (Put the handkerchief in the "Good deeds" glass, and mix it around). Firstly, Hank said sorry to his mum for stealing the cakes, and then lying about it. And to prove he really was sorry, he washed the dinner dishes for her - without being asked. Then Hank apologised to his brother, and tidied up his room for him, to show he really meant it. Afterwards, Hank cat the lawn for his Dad, and even began to share his sweets with his friends. Did all these good deeds clean Hank up on the inside? (Remove the handkerchief from the glass). No. They were still there. In fact, the stains now seem to have all run together.

Fortunately, Hank had another friend who told him how he really could be forgiven and cleansed. He said "Hank, Jesus is the only one who can forgive you, and make you clean." So Hank told Jesus what he had done, and asked for His forgiveness and cleansing. (Put the handkerchief in the "Jesus" glass). Did this clean up Hank? (Remove the handkerchief, showing that all the stains had been removed). Yes. Jesus is the only one who can forgive our wrongs, and clean us up on the inside.

Hank said "This is good news. It is too good to keep to myself. I have some friends who also do wrong things. I will have to tell them about Jesus." So he did. (Put the handkerchief in the now brown coloured "Good deeds" glass, and give it a mix. Remove the handkerchief, showing that both it, and the solution are completely clean.)

Conclusion. What a good end to our story. Not only did Jesus clean up Hank, He did the same for his friends as well. And Jesus can do the same for you.

Story - The Little Monkey.

Here is one of my favourite stories. This is obviously aimed at younger children, but I have found that older ones enjoy it as well. The story has a number of similarities to one of the 'Jungle Doctor' stories by Paul White, so that may be where it originated. I first heard it told by a Christian teacher about 25 years ago. I adopted it, and have adapted it over the years. Here is my present version. If you enjoy acting, here is an opportunity to use your talents!


There are a number of animal characters in this story, five of which need to speak. If you can manage to use five different voices for this, that will be a great benefit. (e.g. Little monkey - squeaky voice. Elephant - deep voice. Hyena - sly voice).


There are four actions to today's story. So when you see me doing them, I would like you to copy:- (These actions are easy to demonstrate, but harder to describe. However, you should get the idea).

Action 1. Cup your hands together, place them in front of your eyes, and move them back and forth.
Action 2. Move your hand across your body, making an 'up and down' motion like a wave in the sea.
Action 3. Starting with your hands together, and directly in front of you, move one upwards and one downwards.
Action 4. Snap your hands together, like a jaw being shut.

This is a story about a little monkey who came home from school one afternoon, and said to his mum "Can I go out to play?"
His mum replied "Yes, but don't go anywhere near the river."
"Why not?"
"The crocodiles live in the river."
"What do crocodiles look like, mum?"
"They have little beady eyes that pop out of the water and look at you like this (Action 1). They float like a log (Action 2). They have big sharp teeth like needles (Action 3). And they have a big jaw, which will go 'snap' (Action 4) and eat you up little monkey. So don't you go anywhere near the river."
So the little monkey went out to play.

The next afternoon, the little monkey came home from school, and asked his mum "Can I go out to play?"
His mum replied "Yes, but don't go anywhere near the river."
"Why not?"
"The crocodiles live in the river."
"Remind me. What do crocodiles look like, mum?"
"They have little beady eyes that pop out of the water and look at you like this (Action 1). They float like a log (Action 2). They have big sharp teeth like needles (Action 3). And they have a big jaw, which will go 'snap' (Action 4) and eat you up little monkey. So don't you go anywhere near the river."
So the little monkey went out to play.

This went on day, after day, after day. So one afternoon, coming home from school, the little monkey said to himself "If I go home today and ask my mum if I can go out to play, and she says to me one more time "Yes, but don't go anywhere near the river because of the crocodiles. They have little beady eyes that pop out of the water and look at you like this (Action 1). They float like a log (Action 2). They have big sharp teeth like needles (Action 3). And they have a big jaw, which will go 'snap' (Action 4) and eat you up little monkey. So don't you go anywhere near the river." I'll - - , I'll - - , I'll- - . I know. I will run away from home. Yes, that's what I will do, I will run away from home.

So the little monkey got home, and asked his mum "Can I go out to play?"
His mum replied "Yes, but don't go anywhere near the river because of the crocodiles. They have little beady eyes that pop out of the water and look at you like this (Action 1). They float like a log (Action 2). They have big sharp teeth like needles (Action 3). And they have a big jaw, which will go 'snap' (Action 4) and eat you up little monkey. So don't you go anywhere near the river."

The little monkey thought "Right, that's it!" So he went into the garden, climbed over the garden fence, and ran off into the jungle. He hadn't been going long, when he came upon a big animal. It had big, floppy ears, and a long, long nose which reached almost all the way down to the ground. What was it? That's right, an elephant. The little monkey looked up at the big elephant, and asked "Please Mr. Elephant, can you tell me the way - - - - - to the river? The Elephant looked down at the little monkey, and said "Oh, little monkey, you don't want to go anywhere near the river."
"Why not?"
"The crocodiles live in the river. They have little beady eyes that pop out of the water and look at you like this (Action 1). They float like a log (Action 2). They have big sharp teeth like needles (Action 3). And they have a big jaw, which will go 'snap' (Action 4) and eat you up little monkey. So don't you go anywhere near the river."
The little monkey looked at the big Elephant and said "You're just like my mum." So he kicked the Elephant on the leg, and ran off further into the jungle.

After a while, the little monkey met another animal. It had long legs and a long, long neck that stretched almost to the top of the trees. What was it? That's right, a giraffe. The little monkey looked up at the tall giraffe, and asked "Please Mr. Giraffe, can you tell me the way to the river? The Giraffe looked down at the little monkey, and said "Oh, little monkey, you don't want to go anywhere near the river."
"Why not?"
"The crocodiles live in the river. They have little beady eyes that pop out of the water and look at you like this (Action 1). They float like a log (Action 2). They have big sharp teeth like needles (Action 3). And they have a big jaw, which will go 'snap' (Action 4) and eat you up little monkey. So don't you go anywhere near the river."
The little monkey looked at the tall Giraffe and said "You're just like my mum as well." So he kicked the Giraffe on the leg, and ran off further into the jungle.

After a while, the little monkey met another animal. This animal was going ha, ha, ha, he, he, he, ho, ho, ho. What was it? That's right a hyena, sometimes called a laughing hyena because of the noise they make. The little monkey looked up at the hyena, and asked "Please Mr. Hyena, can you tell me the way to the river? The Hyena looked at the little monkey, and said "Sure I can, little monkey. I will tell you the way to the river."
"You will?"
"Yes, I know where the river is. I will tell you how to get there."
"But - - - But - - - But - - - But, what about the crocodiles?"
"There's no such thing as crocodiles."
"There's not! Well, if there's no such thing as crocodiles, why is it that my mum always tells me never to go down to the river?"
"Your mum knows what a good looking, handsome, little monkey you are. And she knows that if you see the reflection of your face in the water, you will see for yourself how handsome you are. And she doesn't want you to know that."
"So that's why my mum never wants me to go anywhere near the river. Quick, Mr. Hyena. Tell me how to get there."
"You see that big, tall, tree. Climb to the very top. When you're there, in the distance you will see a huge rock. Climb down the tree, go through the jungle to the rock, and climb on top of it. On the far side, you will see some long, thick, grass. Climb down the rock, go through the jungle to the grass, and go right through it. On the far side, you will see a big, wide, river. And then you will be able to look at your face in the water."
"Thanks very much Mr. Hyena" said the little monkey as he began running to the big, tall, tree. But as soon as he had gone the hyena went "ha, ha, ha, he, he, he, ho, ho, ho".


The little monkey, being a monkey, was a great climber, so he climbed up the tree in no time at all. He looked around, and sure enough, there was the huge rock the Hyena had told him about. He climbed down the tree, made his way through the jungle and climbed on top of the rock. On the far side, he saw the long, thick, grass. He climbed down the rock, went through the jungle until he reached the grass. It was so thick and tall that he couldn't see through it. So, he pushed it aside, and pushed it aside and pushed it aside until he was through it. And there about 20 metres in front of him was a big, wide, river!

The little monkey ran down to the bank of the river, desperate to see his reflection in the water. But a hippopotamus and her family had just passed by and muddied up all the water. The little monkey couldn't see his face in it. He was so disappointed. But then he looked out to the centre of the river where it was nice and still and clear. He thought "Oh, if I could just get to the centre of the river, then I could see my face in the water. I need a way of getting to the middle of the river." Then he had an idea. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw floating down the river was a l o g (Action 2).

The little monkey thought "If that l o g comes close enough, I will be able to jump on top of it, and paddle my way to the middle of the river. I just need the l o g to get a little closer."

The l o g came nearer, and nearer, and nearer (Action 2). The little monkey thought "Right, after three, I am going to jump on the l o g ." He counted 1 - - - 2 - - - 3 - - - The little monkey went flying through the air. He was about to land on the l o g , when the big crocodile opened it's jaws, the little monkey went flying in, and the crocodile went snap, snap, snap (Action 4). And that was the end of the little monkey!


Who can tell me, put your hand up if you know, why was the little monkey eaten by the crocodile? That's right. He got in trouble because he didn't listen to his mum. You should always listen to your mums, and do what they say, because they have lived longer than you and know better than you what is good or bad for you.

Who does the little monkey stand for in this story? - That's right, us.
Who does the little monkey's mum stand for? - Our mums, who give us good advice.
But, who does the elephant and giraffe stand for? Who else might give us good advice, apart from our mums? - Dads, Grandparents, older brothers and sisters, teachers etc. Any adult that you know and can trust, and wants the best for you.
Who does the hyena stand for? Remember the hyena didn't eat the little monkey (the crocodile did that). The hyena lied to the little monkey. - It could be a stranger who wants to harm you, or it could be Satan, who is known as "the liar" in the Bible. There is no need to worry about Satan though, because Jesus has beaten him. All you need to remember is - Don't listen to his lies. For example, if you get a thought in your mind "Go on, steal that boy's lunch. He deserves it for annoying you, and nobody will ever know it was you." DON'T LISTEN TO IT!
Finally, who does the crocodile stand for? What is our worst enemy of all? What is the only thing that can separate us from God? - SIN, all the wrong things we do.

The Bible tells us that sin is like a trap (Action 4). It might look nice or harmless, but it is very, very, dangerous. For example, you may go home, find a plate full of your favourite cakes on the table. As nobody is around - you eat them all. You may think "They were delicious." But then your mum comes in, and you get in trouble for stealing the cakes. And then you get a sore tummy for being too greedy. Sin works like that. Eventually, we usually have to pay the penalty for it.

The little monkey's sin was being disobedient to his mum - that's what got him into trouble. I am not saying that if you disobey your mum, you will be eaten by a crocodile! (One young boy actually told his mum that I said this would happen to him if he disobeyed her! I make sure the children understand better now). What I am saying is that if you keep on doing wrong, and don't do anything about it, you are placing yourself in a very dangerous position. So keep away from sin.

Further application.

I often use this story as an introduction to teaching about obedience.

Write out, and show children Ephesians 6.1. "Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. Honour your mother and father, which is the first commandment with a promise - that all may go well with you, and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."

It starts off "Children", so this is especially for you.

"Obey your parents." That means do what they tell you. The only time you shouldn't obey them - and I hope that this never happens to any of you - is if they tell you to do something that breaks God's laws, like stealing or lying. But don't argue with them. I would just say something like "Jesus wouldn't like it if I stole." All other times you need to obey your parents, even if they tell you to do something that you don't like, like washing the dishes. You may not like washing the dishes, but that is not breaking God's laws!

"Honour your father and mother." That is more than obeying them, That is respecting them, treating them nicely. Never say anything nasty to your parents. Never say anything nasty about your parents (even if you think they deserve it). That is dishonouring them. For example, if your mum says to you "Go and clean up your bedroom" and you go to do it. That is good, you are about to obey her. But as you go you grumble to yourself "This isn't fair. I didn't make the mess in my room. My mum is always blaming me for things. I don't like her." That is not honouring your mother!

If you do obey and honour your parents, God's promise to you is that "All will go well with you, and you will enjoy long life on the earth." In other words, as you go through life, you will be successful, good things will happento you.

You could then conclude your lesson with my object lesson 38 - passing a pencil through a handkerchief (Newsletter 16).

Story - Honouring your parents.

The fifth Commandment instructs us to honour our parents. That means respecting them, treating them well, and never speaking nastily to them or about them. If we do this then God promises that "things will go well for us."

There was once a young man who, from the time he was just a young boy, had his heart set on joining the Navy. His plan was to join the Navy at the earliest opportunity and, he thought, if he worked hard he might even become a ship's Captain one day and be in Command of his own boat.

As soon as he was old enough this young man signed up to join the Navy, and was looking forward to setting out to sea. Just before he was due to set out, his mother came to him saying that she thought he was making a mistake in joining the Navy, she just didn't feel 'right' about it, and asked him to reconsider.

What would you have done in that young man's situation? I think most of us would have said something like "This is my life. I am old enough to make my own decisions, and this is really what I want to do." But this young man went to the Navel authorities and explained that he couldn't dishonour his mother's wishes by joining the Navy.

That young man never went to sea, and he never became Captain of his own boat. But he did become the Commanding Officer of the whole Navy! In fact, he became President of his country. His name? - George Washington.

Would George Washington have still become the first American President if he had disregarded his mother's wishes? We will never know for sure, but I doubt it. And as he kept God's Commandment to honour his parents, he proved God's promise that "all would go well for him."

Story - Jimmy and the six weird witches.

This is a six-part serial about a young boy's dangerous journey to Seaville. This is based on a novel by Eric Mathieson that was published many years ago.

Part 1 - Moaning Maggie. (Perseverance).

Jimmy was really excited because he was about to go on holiday to Seaville, to stay with his aunt for two weeks. But what made it really exciting is that he was going on that long journey all on his own - by train. Jimmy had never been on a journey on his own before, but it was all arranged. Jimmy's mum was going to take him to the train station, make sure he got on the right train, and his aunt was going to meet him at Seaville.

The night before Jimmy's trip, he was so excited that he couldn't sleep. By 6 a.m., Jimmy was up, dressed, washed, packed, and ready to go.
"Is it time to go yet mum?" he asked.
"No it's far too early" came the reply.
At 7 a.m. , Jimmy repeated his question - but it was still too early. At 8 a.m. Jimmy asked again.
His mum replied "It's still too early, but to stop you bothering me, I will drive you down to the station, make sure you get on the right platform, and leave you to wait for your train while I go and do my shopping."

So that is what happened. Now Jimmy was on the Station platform, having a great time watching all the trains come in and out as he waited for his train to Seaville. But when the sun began to rise higher in the sky, and it got a little warmer, Jimmy realised he was tired - after all he hadn't slept at all that night. He noticed a bench on the platform, so went over to it and sat down for a rest. He closed his eyes, just for a second, but was suddenly startled by the sound of a train roaring into his platform.
The porter began to call out "Train to Seaville. Train to Seaville"
"Oh" thought Jimmy "This is my train. I didn't think it would arrive so soon."

Jimmy reached down to pick up his suitcase, but it was not there! He looked all around, but there was no sign of it at all. Meantime, all the other passengers were boarding the Seaville train.
Jimmy ran up to the porter and began to say "This is my train. I'm going to Seaville, but I can't find my suit - - "
But the porter cut him short "I haven't time to be bothered with you right now sonny, I've got this train to get away."
Jimmy watched in dismay as the last passenger boarded the train, the porter shut the door, waved his flag, blew his whistle, and the train drew out of the platform, leaving Jimmy behind.

The porter finally turned his attention to Jimmy. "What's your problem, sonny?"
Jimmy replied "That was my train. I am going on holiday to Seaville, but I can't find my suitcase."
"Oh, somebody probably put it on board for you" replied the porter.
"But, what shall I do now?" asked Jimmy.
"You will just have to catch a later train" replied the porter, as he walked away, leaving Jimmy on his own.

Jimmy returned to the bench to think what to do. "Did someone really put my suitcase on board the train?" he wondered "And when was the later train? Oh, and what would his aunt think when Jimmy's train arrived in Seaville, and he wasn't on board. She would be very worried - - - and then she would ring and tell his mum - - - and she'd be worried as well - - - AND ANGRY. Oh what a terrible start to his holiday this was."

Just then Jimmy noticed that there was a little old lady, dressed all in black, sitting on the other end of his bench.
She leaned over towards Jimmy, and asked "What's wrong with you, sonny?"
Jimmy replied "I an going on holiday to Seaville, but I missed my train because I couldn't find my suitcase, so now I will have to catch a later train."
"Oh no you won't" replied the lady. "There isn't going to be any holiday for you, because there isn't another train. You will just have to go home."
"But my aunt's expecting me. My holiday is all arranged" mumbled Jimmy.
"There will be no holiday for you, you'll have to go home. You're not going to have a good time, your going to have a miserable, miserable time" cackled the old lady as she got up and began to walk away, muttering "This is a miserable, miserable day, oh what a wonderful, miserable day."

"What a horrible old lady" thought Jimmy. But then he noticed, just where she had been sitting - there was his suitcase! "I bet she hid my suitcase with her coat, just to make me miss my train" thought Jimmy. And he began to cry.

"What's wrong with you?" said a cheerful voice.
Jimmy looked up to see a friendly looking porter - nothing like the grumpy porter he had met before. "I'm supposed to be going on holiday to Seaville" replied Jimmy. "But when my train arrived I missed it because I couldn't find my suitcase. And there was a horrible old lady, who I think hid my suitcase to make me miss my train. She said there wasn't another train to Seaville, so I would have to go home, and there would be no holiday for me. She was so, so horrible, I think, I think, I think _ _ _ _ she was a WITCH!"

"That's right" agreed the friendly porter. "That was Moaning Maggie, one of the six weird witches. She is always trying to make people miss their trains and stop them going on their journeys. The only way to beat her is to ignore her. Don't listen to what she says. However, she was right about one thing - there isn't another train to Seaville. At least not from this station. But come with me, and I will show you the way to New Station in another part of town. You will be able to catch a train to Seaville from there later in the day."

The friendly porter led Jimmy out of the station, and pointed down a long, wide road. "Just keep going straight down this road, and you will come to New Station. But whatever you do, do not turn off to the left or the right - just keep going straight down this road. And watch out for Moaning Maggie and her five sisters, because they will all try and stop you completing your journey."

To be continued. Come back next month to see how Jimmy progresses on his dangerous journey.

Conclusion. Like Jimmy, who was on a journey to Seaville, all Christians are on a journey through life. And our final destination is heaven. But God has enemies, who are your enemies as well, and they will do all they can to try and stop you completing your journey. They use people like Moaning Maggie to try and put people off right near the start of their journey.

I know people who have made a good start by putting their trust in Jesus. And then they have begun to do all the right things to help them on their journey through life - like praying, reading and obeying the Bible, and going to church or Sunday school. But then they listened to someone like Moaning Maggie, who may have told them that these things were all a waste of time, and there were better things they could be doing. And they believed her lies!

So don't be beaten by Moaning Maggie. Your journey through life to heaven is much too important. The only way to beat her is to PERSEVERE. That means never giving up. When things are going well in life - follow Jesus. When things appear to be going badly in life (and this will happen sometimes) - follow Jesus. And He will make sure that you stay on the right road through life.

Suggested Object lesson. "Why does God allow suffering (Invisible writing)." O.L. 3 - Newsletter 2.

Suggested puppet play. "How do you get to heaven?" - Newsletter 11.

Part 2 - Old Mother Curseandswear. (Prayer).

Jimmy was on his way to Seaville, but had met up with Moaning Maggie, one of the six weird witches, who had hidden his suitcase and made him miss his train. However, with the help of the Friendly Porter, Jimmy was now walking down the road to New Station, where he would be able to catch another train later in the day.

Jimmy was feeling better now, he had his suitcase back, all the shops were opening up, and there were lots of happy looking people about. Jimmy walked on and on, remembering that the Friendly Porter had told him to keep on that road, and not to turn off to the left or to the right.

After Jimmy had been walking for about 20 minutes, he began to wonder how far New Station was. He wished he had remembered to ask. Just then it began to rain, and that made Jimmy walk faster - - - - but 10 minutes later, there was still no sign of New Station. Suddenly, Jimmy came to a side road, with a large sign pointing down it, and which said "NEW STATION. SHORT CUT." Jimmy was just about to turn down the side road, when he remembered that the Friendly Porter had warned him not to turn off the main road. He wasn't sure what to do. "Surely this sign is right - - - but I was warned - - - "Just then it began to rain heavier, and that helped Jimmy make up his mind - - - - - he turned down rhe side road.

After a few minutes, Jimmy noticed that the new road he was on was getting very narrow - - - - most of the shops were shut, or even boarded up - - - - - there were fewer and fewer people about. Jimmy began to wonder if he had made a mistake in following the "Short Cut" sign. After a few more minutes, there was nobody else to be seen, all the shops were closed, and the now very narrow road was littered with scraps of paper. Jimmy thought that he had better turn around and go back to the road he had been on. But as he looked back, he saw that the road branched in two, and he couldn't remember which of the branches he had walked down.

"I had better ask someone if this is the right way to New Station" thought Jimmy. But there was nobody around to ask. Then he noticed a figure in the distance, walking towards him. "I will ask this person" thought Jimmy. But then he thought "Oh no I won't," because he now saw that the figure was a little old lady who was bent over a pram that she was pushing. And she was taking scraps of paper from the pram, throwing them on the road and calling out horrible things as she did so - - - - Headaches - - - -Nightmares - - - - Chicken pox - - - - - Toothache - - - - - Coughs and colds - - - - Break a leg - - - - - Measles - - - - Tummyache - - - - Spots before the eyes - - - - ."I think she might be one of those weird witches the Friendly Porter warned me about" thought Jimmy, as he bached into a shop doorway, hoping that he wouldn't be noticed. But as the lady reached Jimmy, she took out the largest scrap of paper she had and thrust it at Jimmy. Jimmy instinctively took hold of the paper, and waited as the lady moved on, still throwing out her papers, and calling out her nasty things.

Jimmy waited until the lady was out of sight, and then he looked at his scrap of paper. It said "GET LOST." Jimmy began to think that he really was lost. He didn't know what to do, so he sat down on his suitcase to think. Suddenly, Jimmy remembered a prayer that he had learned at Sunday school. It was:-
"Angels all along the way,
help me when I go astray."
"That's the sort of prayer I need right now" thought Jimmy. So he prayed it quietly a few times.

"You have got yourself in a bit of a mess, haven't you Jimmy?" said a familiar voice. Jimmy opened his eyes, and there was the Friendly Porter!
"I'm so pleased to see you" said Jimmy, who proceeded to recount all that had happened to him since they last met.
"I think that old lady was one of those weird witches that you warned me about" concluded Jimmy.
"Yes" replied the Friendly Porter. That was Old mother curseandswear. She puts up false signs to make people go the wrong way, and she throws out curses, and she tries to stop people saying their prayers.
"Wasn't it strange that as soon as I began to pray my prayer, you turned up?" said Jimmy. The Porter just smiled.

"Come with me" said the Friendly Porter as he proceeded to take Jimmy back to the main road. "New station is not far from here, and as long as you keep on this road you will soon come to it." said the Porter, as he left Jimmy to continue his journey. "But do watch out for those other four weird witches."

To be continued. Come back next month to see how Jimmy progresses on his dangerous journey.

Conclusion. Just like Jimmy in this story, many people have discovered that God really does answer prayers. Prayer is very, very important. It is simply talking to God. And I am sure that there is nothing God likes better than when His children talk to him. Make sure you talk to God everyday. You can talk to God about anything at all. He wants to share in your lives. Talk to Him when you are happy. Talk to Him when you are sad. Talk to Him when you are upset or angry. Remember, God loves you, He is your best friend, He is always with you, He is there to help and guide you, and He wants the very best for you.

Suggested Object lessons. "Faith - A water experiment." O.L. 2 - Newsletter 1 and "Break in communication with God (Restore a cut rope)." O.L. 16 - Newsletter 6.

Suggested story. "God knows best." - Newsletter 38.

Part 3 - The Tricky witch. (The Church).

With the help of the Friendly Porter, Jimmy was now back on the main road, heading towards New Station, where he would be able to catch a later train to his holiday destination of Seaville.

After only a few minutes, Jimmy came to a large old building. It had a tall steeple, and stained glass windows. There was a sign outside which said "NEW STATION. BEST WAY TO ANYWHERE."

Jimmy thought to himself "This building looks more like a church than a station, but it must be the right place." He was just about to enter, when he noticed a brightly coloured stall right opposite the station. He wandered over to have a closer look, and it was certainly very interesting with lots of toys, games, comics and sweets. There was a little old lady standing behind the stall.

After his encounters with Moaning Maggie and Old mother Curseandswear, Jimmy was a little bit wary of old ladies, but with her bright cheerful face and happy smile, this one didn't look at all like the others. "She looks alright" thought Jimmy as he had a closer examination of the stall's goods.

After a few minutes the old lady leaned over towards Jimmy and said "Have you seen anything you like, sonny?"

Jimmy replied "You have certainly got some good stuff on this stall. But I am going on holiday to Seaville, and I have decided to keep all my pocket money until I get there."

"You don't understand" said the lady as she pointed to a large sign above the stall "You don't have to pay."


"You mean everything is free?" asked Jimmy.

"Yes." replied Granny Lovejoy. "Just choose whatever gift you like, and it is absolutely free to you."

"Oh, that's different" said Jimmy, as he began to examine all the wonderful gifts. After a while, Jimmy decided that he would just choose a large bag of sweets.

"Because you have only chosen some sweets, rather than an expensive gift" said Granny Lovejoy, "I am going to reward you. Here is a free ticket to my special super circus. The show is just about to start, and if you hurry, you will catch the beginning."

Jimmy looked at the circus ticket and said "I really would love to go to your circus, but I have already missed one train to Seaville, and I don't dare risk missing another one. I just don't have the time."

Granny Lovejoy interrupted "But you don't understand. This is the best circus ever. It has clowns, acrobats, jugglers, performing lions, dancing dogs and even an amazing tight rope walking elephant."

"A tight rope walking elephant" exclaimed Jimmy. "That sounds amazing, and I really would like to go to your circus, but I just don't have the time."

Just for a second, Granny Lovejoy's smile faded, and she began to say "Why, you ungrateful little - - - - - ." But then her smile returned and she said "Well that's quite alright sonny. Here, have one of my special balloons, instead."

Jimmy was handed a large bright red balloon, tied onto a string. Instinctively, he caught hold of the balloon. But immediately, he felt a strong tug on his arm. Amazingly, the balloon was rising up into the air, and Jimmy was being lifted off the ground by it. By the time Jimmy realised what was happening, it was too late for him to let go of the balloon, which kept rising higher and higher.

Granny Lovejoy was looking up at Jimmy, and shouting gleefully "That will teach you. Don't want to go to my circus eh. You're in trouble now, you ungrateful little boy."

Far too late, Jimmy realised that Granny Lovejoy was one of the weird witches that he had been warned about. He was still rising higher and higher, and had no idea how he could safely get back down to the ground. Suddenly, he felt a tug in his belt. He looked down. There was a large hook in his belt, and attached to it was a long pole, and on the end of the pole, slowly pulling him back down to the ground was the Friendly Porter!

When Jimmy finally reached the ground, he released the balloon, which floated into the air, before exploding with a loud bang. Granny Lovejoy was furious. She kicked over her stall, and all the gifts were scattered everywhere. She then ran off down the road, still in a rage.

"I'm glad you came along when you did" said Jimmy. "I think Granny Lovejoy is one of those weird witched that are trying to stop me reaching the end of my journey."

"Yes." said the Friendly Porter "That was the tricky witch. She sets up her stall right next to the station, to try and stop people going on their journey - and she succeeds with a lot of people. But don't worry, she won't bother you again. Well, here is New Station, and your train will be coming soon, so just go in and wait for it."

"It's a funny looking station" replied Jimmy. "It looks more like a church that a station."

"Yes" replied the Friendly Porter. A church is like a station, because it is the starting point for where everyone wants to get to!"

To be continued. Come back next month to see how Jimmy progresses on his dangerous journey.

Conclusion. Where is it that everyone wants to get to? That's right, heaven! And one of the main reasons people go to church is to to be helped on their way there, by being shown how to defeat any of God's enemies who would try and stop us completing our journey. There are people about like the tricky witch who will try and stop us going to church or Sunday school, knowing that if they do so it will be easier for them to stop us getting to heaven as well. They may try and persuade us that something is nicer or more important than going to church - like lying in bed on a Sunday morning, or watching T.V. Don't listen to them. Don't be put off. Don't let God's enemies defeat you! God is on your side, and He wants to see you complete your journey through life, and eventually arrive in heaven.

Why we go to church.

1. The Bible tells us to (Hebrews 10.25).
2. To meet together as a family (or team).
3. To help find God's plan for our lives.
4. To help us on our way to heaven.

What the church does.

1. Worship God and meet as a family.
2. Continue the work of Jesus.
a. Tell others about Jesus.
b. Demonstrate the love of Jesus by helping others.

Part 4 - Library Lizzy.

With the help of the friendly Porter, Jimmy had managed to defeat Moaning Maggie, Old mother Curseandswear and the Tricky witch. He was now inside New Station, waiting for his later train to Seaville. He noticed that there was a Bookstall in the station, so he wandered over to have a look, thinking that he might be able to buy a book or magazine to read on his long journey to Seaville.

Jimmy made sure that the Bookstall had nothing to do with the Tricky witch, but she was nowhere to be seen. The books and magazines didn't seem very appealing to Jimmy, with titles such as 'Gardening weekly', 'Home decorating' and 'Cooking for beginners'. But then he spotted an interesting sounding book. It was titled "Visitors Guide to Seaville'. Jimmy examined it and thought "I'm going to Seaville, this book could help me find my way around when I get there." So Jimmy purchased his book.

Shortly afterwards Jimmy's train arrived. It was one of those that had separate compartments, with a corridor running down the outside. As Jimmy had had enough excitement for one day, he found an empty compartment and hoped that nobody else would get in so that he could read his 'Visitors Guide to Seaville' in peace. But just as the train was starting off, the compartment door opened, and a very large lady, carrying an enormous handbag came in and sat down opposite Jimmy.

"I hope you don't start talking to me" thought Jimmy. So he got out his 'Visitors Guide to Seaville' and began to read it. But after a few minutes the lady leaned towards Jimmy, and asked "Are you going on holiday?"
"Yes, I'm going to stay with my aunt in Seaville."
"Have you been before?"
"No, but I have this 'Visitors Guide to Seaville' to help me find my way around."
"Let me have a look."
Jimmy handed over the book. The large lady looked at it briefly and handed it back. "That's a funny sort of book for a boy your age to be reading. I thought that you would prefer comics."
"I do like comics, but I think that this book will be very helpful to me."
"Nonsense! This is your lucky day. It just so happens that I run a library for boys and girls your age. I have some of my books with me" said the large lady, as she began to look inside her handbag "I will lend you one of them for you to read instead of that silly book you have."
She handed Jimmy a book. "How about this one 'Screams of Fun - 100 Practical jokes to play on people you don't like.'"
"I don't think I like the sound of that one" said Jimmy.
"Oh but there's a great joke in here. You creep up behind someone while they are sitting down, and when they are not looking tie their shoelaces together. When they get up, they trip over themselves!"
"That doesn't sound very nice to me."
"Never mind. How about this one? You place a bowl of water on top of a door, which you leave ajar. The first person through the door, gets soaked with water!"
"I would get in trouble if I did something like that" replied Jimmy.
"Oh you don't have to worry about that. There is a whole chapter in this book, which tells you how to make quick getaways. And there is another chapter which tells you how to put the blame on someone else."
"I'm sorry" said Jimmy, handing the book back. "I don't like that book at all."
"How about this one then? 'Cross Patch - 200 ways of making people lose their temper.'"
"But I don't like it when people lose their temper. No thanks."
"Well you are certain to like this one. 'Always Right - How to make other people look silly.'"
"No. That book doesn't sound very nice either."
"This is my favourite. Everyone likes this book. '500 Funny and nasty names to call your friends.'"
"If I called my friends nasty names, they wouldn't be my friends much longer. No, I am sorry, but I don't like any of your books" said Jimmy as he handed the last one back.

Suddenly, the large lady's face began to turn redder and redder. She stood up, leaned over towards Jimmy, and began shaking her fist in his face. In an angry voice she began to say "You nasty little boy. You are just a nasty, nasty little boy. Don't like any of my books do you!. Why, I will teach you, you nasty, nasty, little boy."
Far too late, Jimmy realised that the large lady was one of the six weird witches he had been warned about. Frightened, he pressed himself back against his seat as far as he could go. But the witch came even closer "You nasty, nasty, nasty little boy."

Suddenly Jimmy heard the door to the compartment open, and a familiar voice said "Tickets please." Jimmy looked up, and although he was now in a ticket collectors uniform, it was obviously the Friendly Porter. The large lady sat back down on her seat while Jimmy offered his ticket up to be clipped. Then the Friendly Porter turned towards the large lady. "Tickets please" he demanded. The large lady began to look through her bag, but she couldn't produce a ticket. Eventually the Friendly Porter said "Away with you Lizzy." The large lady collected up all her nasty books, stuffed them in her bag, and stormed off down the corridor, slamming the compartment door behind her.

"I'm really glad you came along when you did" said Jimmy. "I think that lady was one of those weird witches you warned me about."
"Yes" replied the Friendly Porter "That was Library Lizzy. She always tries to get people to read her nasty books. I hope you didn't read any of them, Jimmy?"
"No, I gave them all back to her."
"That was the right thing to do. Let me see that book you've got Jimmy."
Jimmy passed over his 'Visitors Guide to Seaville.' "This should help me find my way around while I am on holiday."
"That looks a very good book to me" replied the Friendly Porter as he handed Jimmy his book back "I would stick to reading that one."

The Friendly Porter left Jimmy to read his Guide book, which he found really interesting. And in some places it was very exciting.

Conclusion. Just like Jimmy had a guide book to help him find his way around, Christians also have a guide book - The Bible. God has given His Word, the Bible to us to help us on our journey through life. If you keep finding out what the Bible has to say to you, we won't go far wrong. However, if you never look at the Bible, or ignore what it says, then you are certain to make mistakes in life, and go off in wrong directions.

God's enemies don't like us reading the Bible, and they have a whole lot of other books and magazines that they would rather us read instead. You need to be very careful about the sort of things that you read. There is a very powerful spiritual law at work in us all. This basically says "Good things in, good things out. Bad things in, bad things out." In other words, if you take in good things (like the Bible) through your eyes and ears, good things will start coming out from you. i.e. You will begin to say and do 'good' things. If, on the other hand, you take in bad things through your eyes or ears, bad things will start coming out from you.

Therefore, be very careful about what you read, what T.V. programmes, films and videos you watch, and what type of music you listen to. You may be thinking "How do I know what is 'Good' or 'Bad'? Very often this is quite obvious. But if you are not sure, test to see how you feel about what you are taking in through your eyes or ears. If you feel uneasy or anxious, that is God warning you through the Holy Spirit that you shouldn't be taking this in. But then, remember, it is still your choice whether you continue taking in that thing or not. God won't send an Angel down from heaven to take your book away, or switch off the T.V.! It is always your choice to do it. But remember, "Good things in, good things out. Bad things in, bad things out."

Suggested Object lessons. God's Guidance (A balloon guidance system) O.L. 13 (Newsletter 5).
The Flaming Bible. O.L. 65 (Newsletter 56).

Part 5 - Freda Fib.

With the help of the Friendly Porter, Jimmy had managed to defeat the fourth Weird Witch, Library Lizzy. He was now on his own, reading his "Visitors Guide to Seaville", which he found really interesting and, in places, quite exciting. After a while, Jimmy realised that he was hungry. He hadn't eaten since early that morning, and now it was early afternoon. He wondered if there was a cafeteria on the train, so went to have a look.

Jimmy soon found the cafeteria, and ordered himself a sandwich and a milk shake. He looked around for somewhere to sit down to have his snack, but the cafeteria was nearly full. In fact the only vacant seat was right next to a young girl, about his own age. Jimmy didn't normally like sitting next to girls, much preferring boy's company. But this girl looked quite nice with her long blond hair and sweet smile, so Jimmy went and sat next to her. After a few minutes, the girl struck up a conversation. (This next part of the story, I usually tell by means of a puppet play. Characters - Jimmy, Freda, Ticket collector, 'Changed' Freda).

"My name is Freda, what's yours?"
"Jimmy, and I'm on my way to Seaville"
"So am I. My dad's got lots of money, has yours?"
"No, I don't think so."
"Well my dad has millions of dollars, and we live in an enormous house with over 100 rooms, and a Television in every one. We have 10 cars, and my mother has big diamond rings on all her fingers. She wears them all the time - even when she is doing the washing up."
"It's funny to wear diamond rings when you are doing the washing up."
"Well my mum does. How much pocket money do you get?"
"I get $2 a week."
"$2 a week! $2 a week!! I get $500 a week."
"Oh come on Freda, nobody gets that much pocket money."
"Well I do. In fact, some weeks I get $1,000. But it is too much for me. So I end up throwing most of it away."

"Tickets please" came a voice from nearby. Jimmy looked up to see that it was the real ticket collector, so he offered up his ticket for examination. The ticket collector clipped it, then handed it back to Jimmy. Then he turned to Freda. "Ticket please."
"My mummy has got my ticket, and she is in the carriage." said Freda. The collector seemed satisfied with that explanation, and walked away.
"Silly old fool" said Freda. "I always fool them. I haven't really got a ticket."
"You'll get in trouble" said Jimmy.
"No I won't. Because we are going to hide in the Guard's van."
"But, I don't need to hide" protested Jimmy.

Suddenly Freda grabbed hold of Jimmy's arm. Jimmy tried to pull away, but for someone so small, Jimmy found that Freda was very strong. There was nothing he could do but let Freda pull him all the way to the Guard's van.
"No one will find us here" said Freda.
"But I keep telling you, I don't need to hide. I have a ticket" said Jimmy, as he held up his ticket.
"Oh no you don't" replied Freda as she snatched Jimmy's ticket out of his hand and threw it out of the open window.
Jimmy stared at Freda in amazement. "You've thrown my ticket out of the window. I will tell the man."
"He'll never believe you" said Freda gleefully. "You will have to buy another one."
"You're mad" said Jimmy. "You're making it all up. All that stuff about having $500 a week pocket money, your dad being very rich and your mum doing the washing up wearing her diamond rings. You are just a liar."
"Yes. I like telling lies. It's fun and it gets people in trouble. I've made a lot of trouble for you!"

Suddenly Freda's appearance began to change. Her hair became brown and straggly. Her nose became long and pointed, and her face became red and crinkled. Too late, Jimmy realised that Freda was one of the weird witches that he had been warned about (Actually, she was Freda Fib, the well known lying witch). Freda started to move towards Jimmy. Panicking, Jimmy spotted the red emergency button which stops the train. He pushed it, and immediately heard the sound of the train's brakes as it began to slow down.
"I hoped you'd do that. I hoped you'd do that" shouted Freda as she jumped up and down for joy.
"No one will believe you if you say there is a witch on the train. You will be fined $1,000 for stopping the train. You might even be sent to prison." With that, Freda quickly opened the door and ran off, leaving Jimmy on his own.

After a few seconds Jimmy heard footsteps coming towards the Guard's van. "I'll get in trouble for stopping the train" he thought. In panic Jimmy opened the outside door to the now stationary train, jumped out, and ran back along the track until he was out of sight of the train. After a few minutes, Jimmy heard the sound of his train starting up and pulling away into the distance, leaving him all on his own right in the middle of the deserted countryside.

Oh dear. Jimmy is really in trouble now. What will happen next? Will he make it to the end of his journey, or will the weird witches beat him? Come back in October for the final instalment of this serial.


Like Freda Fib, people lie for a number of different reasons. Here are the main four ones.

1, To show off. Freda Fib told lies about her mum and dad, and the amount of pocket money she got just to boast and show off.

2. To get out of trouble. Freda Fib lied to the ticket collector so she wouldn't get in trouble for not having a ticket. (Jimmy might have been tempted to tell a lie like this if someone had asked him if he had pressed the emergency button to stop the train).

3. Out of pure spite or nastiness to get other people into trouble. If asked, Freda would have probably lied to the ticket collector, saying that Jimmy didn't have a ticket.

4. To get something you are not due, or don't deserve. For example, imagine someone is passing round a box of chocolates. You have already had yours, but you are asked if you have had one - and you say no!

Lies are one of God's enemies favourite ways of stopping people being good Christians. They often spread like measles - you tell one, and then you have to tell a lot more to cover up the first one. And the more lies you tell, the easier it gets, until it becomes a habit. This is true for all sins (e.g. cheating, stealing, swearing, getting angry or jealous etc.), but especially for lies - because once they become a habit, they don't seem to matter any more.

The only way to deal with your lies (or any other sins) is to get rid of them straight away by asking God to forgive you. This is rather like weeding your garden. If I see one weed in my garden, I pull it up, and it is not a problem. But if I ignore the weed, the next time I look at my garden I will probably find that that weed has spread all over - causing real problems.

You should 'weed your garden' every day. When you pray, think back to see if there is anything that you have done, or said, or even thought, that you know was wrong. Then tell God you are sorry (and be sorry, of course), thank Him for forgiving you, and ask Him to help you do better the next day.

Suggested Object lessons. Little sins grow bigger (Balloon burst). O.L. 15 (Newsletter 6).
Sin is serious. O.L. 34 (Newsletter 14).
Sin grows rapidly O.L. 35 (Newsletter 14).
Our sins are gone forever (Flashpaper). O.L. 57 (Newsletter 41).

Part 6 - The Screaming witch of hate.

Jimmy was in serious trouble. Following his encounter with Freda Fib, he had panicked and pressed the button to stop his train. When he had heard footsteps coming towards the Guard's van to investigate, Jimmy had jumped out of the train and ran back along the track until he was out of sight. After a few minutes, Jimmy heard the sound of his train starting up and pulling away into the distance, leaving him all on his own right in the middle of the deserted countryside.

Jimmy looked all around but, apart from the countryside, there was nothing to be seen. No people, no roads, not even any houses. Jimmy decided that the best thing he could do was to walk along the train track. He thought that if he was lucky he might come to the next station, and if he was really lucky, he might even be able to catch another train and finish his journey to Seaville.

After walking along the track for a few minutes, Jimmy heard the sound of a train coming towards him.

"Oh no" he thought "This must be my train coming back. They must be looking for me to punish me for stopping the train."

Jimmy spotted a bush near the side of the track, so he hid in it, hoping that he wouldn't be seen as the train reached him. But as the train got closer, Jimmy noticed that it wasn't the train he had been on. This was a single black engine. It was travelling very slowly, and instead of making the usual "chu. chu. chu." train sound, it seemed to be saying "hate. hate. hate. hate. hate. hate." Sitting on top of the engine was the ugliest old woman that Jimmy had ever see, She had a pointed black hat, a long black coat, and long black boots. Her head was moving from side to side as she obviously searched for something near the track. Jimmy instinctively knew that she was searching for him!

This old woman was actually the Screaming witch of hate. She was the oldest and worst of the six weird witched. And sitting next to her on top of the black engine and also searching the track were all the other sisters. There was Moaning Maggie, still muttering "It's a miserable, miserable day." There was Old Mother Curseandswear, littering the track with her scraps of paper, and calling out nasty names such as "Chicken pox." "Break a leg" and "Coughs and colds." There was the Tricky witch, but she wasn't smiling now. She had a big scowl on her face. There was Library Lizzy, still holding onto her bag full of nasty books. And there was little Freda Fib, sitting right alongside her sisters.

Jimmy moved as far into the bush as he could, trying to make himself as small as possible. He prayed and hoped that he wasn't seen by anyone on the hate train. But as the train got closer, it's sound changed from "hate. hate. hate. hate. hate. hate." to "I hate him. I hate him. I hate him. I hate him." Jimmy closed his eyes and waited. The train was right next to him now. "I hate him. I hate him. I hate him. I hate him. - - - - -" . But eventually he heard the sound of the train gradually moving away. As soon as the sound of the train became faint, Jimmy came out of the bush and began to run as fast as he could along the track, determined to get as far as he could away from the deadly hate train.

The track curved round to the right, but as Jimmy turned the corner, there just a few metres in front of him was a big black tunnel. Jimmy peered into the tunnel, but he couldn't see any light from the other end. "There is no way I am going in there," thought Jimmy. He thought of going back along the track in the direction he had just run. But then he remembered the deadly hate train, and immediately dismissed the idea. "I will just have to get off the track" thought Jimmy. But both banks on either side of the track had become so steep just before rhe tunnel, that they seemed impossible to climb. Jimmy just didn't know what to do.

After a few minutes, Jimmy heard a voice. He looked up to see a tiny figure in the distance on top of one of the banks. Jimmy couldn't be sure about this, but he thought that the figure looked like the Friendly Porter. The figure was waving his arm as though he wanted Jimmy to go into the tunnel. But then the figure disappeared.

"I guess there is nothing else for it" said Jimmy as he began to walk into the big, black tunnel. Soon there was no light at all, and Jimmy kept falling over the track as he slowly moved further and further into the tunnel. Jimmy began to think that he had made a mistake in coming into such a horrible place. He moved to the side of the track and began to feel his way along the tunnel wall, which was all slimy. Jimmy was making very slow progress, and still there was no sign of the end of the tunnel.

Then Jimmy heard the one sound in the world that he didn't want to hear - hate him. I hate him. I hate him. I hate him." It was the deadly hate train coming back towards the tunnel. Jimmy flattened himself against the tunnel wall, hardly daring to even breathe. He heard the train enter the tunnel, and as it did so the sound changed again - "I hate him. I hate him. I hate him. I hate him." It had almost reached Jimmy when the whole tunnel was filled with smoke from the engine, It went into Jimmy's nose, mouth and eyes. He began to cough and splutter. Suddenly, there was a great screech. Jimmy screamed Ahhh! And then - - - - - Absolutely nothing!

The next thing Jimmy remembered was feeling a large hand grab hold of his shoulder and begin to shake it. A voice from behind him said "Come along young man, or you will miss your train." Jimmy blinked, opened his eyes, and looked around him. He could hardly believe what he saw. He was back on the station platform where he had first started his journey. And a train had just roared into the platform with a great screech. The voice behind him said "Come on, wake up. You are going to Seaville aren't you? This is your train."

Very slowly, Jimmy realised he had been dreaming! When he was on the platform that morning, he had felt tired, and gone over to sit on a bench for a rest. He had closed his eyes for a second - or so he thought. Actually, he had fallen asleep, and dreamt all those adventures about the six weird witches!

So Jimmy got up, thanked the Porter for waking him up, picked up his suitcase, boarded the train, and went off to have a great holiday in Seaville.


The Screaming witch of hate was the worst of all because hatred lies behind every nasty thing people do. It causes wars, terrorist attacks and all sorts of trouble.

This witch tried to stop Jimmy getting to the end of his journey, and lack of love (which is another name for hatred) is the thing which holds us back most on our journey to heaven. God loves you (read John 3.16), and He wants you to share his love with others. If you are really serious about following Jesus, this is something that you must do. You need to be kind and nice to everyone - even if you find it hard to like them, or think they don't deserve it. That is what Jesus would do.

Suggested Object lessons. Defeating evil with good (Paper is stronger than wood). O.L. 24 (Newsletter 9).
The fair distribution of food. O.L.36 (Newsletter 15).

Suggested play. The Good Samaritan (Modern version) - Newsletter 35.

Suggested story. Jesus for tea.- Newsletter 35.

The portrait of the Son.

This story has been around for many years. I am not sure of it's origin, but it may well be a true story. It can be used, however, to teach children an important Biblical truth.

A wealthy man had a hobby of collecting very valuable paintings. After many years he had amassed a wonderful collection, which was the envy of many art enthusiasts. This man had a son, whom he loved dearly. But war came, and the son went off to fight for his country. The father, however, was now too old to go to war.

During a fierce battle, one of the son's army friends was shot by the enemy. He lay wounded and unable to move on open ground. When the son saw what had happened to his friend, he ran to his aid, lifted him on to his shoulders and began to run back towards the safety of his own lines. However, as he was doing this, the son was also shot. Nevertheless, he still managed to carry his friend back to safety. The friend eventually recovered from his wounds, but the son died from his.

When the father heard that his beloved son had been killed, he was absolutely devastated. Even his wonderful art collection could not console him. A few months later, there was a knock on the father's door. Standing at the door was a young soldier who introduced himself as a friend of the son. "In fact" he said "I was the wounded soldier that your son was rescuing before he was shot and fatally wounded."

The young soldier continued "I do a little painting. I am not that good, I am only an amateur. But I painted a portrait of your son, and thought that you would like to have it." The soldier gave the portrait of the son to the father who was delighted with it. It clearly wasn't that good a painting, but what made it special to the father was that it was that it was of his son. He gave the portrait "pride of place" in his collection, and it always remained his very favourite.

The years passed, and eventually the father died. In accordance with his last wishes, auctioneers were brought in to sell off the father's famous collection of valuable paintings. Many art collectors gathered, each hoping to purchase a valuable painting. The auctioneer began the sale "The father has instructed that the first item to be sold is the portrait of the son. Now, will anybody start me off with a bid of $100?" There were murmurs among the crowd, and people were heard to say "That's not a valuable painting." "It was obviously painted by an amateur." "It's not even worth $100."

"How about $50 then?" said the auctioneer. No bids. "Will someone give me $20?" No bids. "Surely someone will start me off with a bid of $10?" Suddenly a voice from the back called out "I bid $5 for the portrait of the son." Everyone turned around to see the old gardener who had worked for the father for many years. He explained "The father was very good to me, and so was the son. I would like to have the portrait to remind me of them, but $5 is all I can afford."

"At last we have an opening bid" said the auctioneer. "Now, who will give me an advance on $5?" Silence. At last someone spoke up. "Let the gardener have the portrait of the son, so we can get on with bidding for the valuable paintings That is what we are here for." A murmur of approval spread through the crowd. "Very well" said the auctioneer." If there are no other bids, the portrait of the son is sold to the gardener for $5. He banged doun his gavel to indicate that the sale was complete.

"That concludes today's sale" said the auctioneer. There was an uproar among the bidders "What do you mean? What about the valuable paintings? Why aren't you selling those?" The auctioneer replied "The father left exact instructions in his will. He said that whoever gets 'the son' gets everything else as well! Therefore, all the other paintings, the house and all it's contents, all the father's money goes to the gardener, because he was the one who got the son.

Conclusion. Because the gardener got 'the son', he got everything else as well. It is just like that in God's Kingdom. If you have the son (Jesus) in your life, then all the riches of heaven - eternal life, forgiveness, victory, grace, peace, success, joy, etc. etc. - belong to you as well.

"He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." (1 John 5 v. 12).

Story - Jo Jo and the Umbrella.

Maurice Sweetsur's photo.


Here is another of my favourite stories. As with "The little monkey" (Newsletter 57) this story has a number of similarities to one of the 'Jungle Doctor' stories by Paul White, so that may be where it originated. I first heard it told by a Christian teacher about 25 years ago. I adopted it, and have adapted it over the years. Here is my present version. If you enjoy acting, here is an opportunity to use your talents!

I have used this story hundreds of times to teach children about the importance of the Bible, and the only way that it can benefit them.


You will need an umbrella, a 'funny' hat, a rubber inflatable hammer (or something similar) and a well-used Bible (the more battered looking, the better).


Jo Jo was a little boy who lived in a tiny African village, deep in the jungle. Jo Jo had never been to the 'big city', so he had never seen things like motor cars, bicycles, electric lights, brick buildings, televisions etc. But his dad had. Sometimes Jo Jo's dad had to go to 'the big city' on business. Jo Jo used to ask his dad "Please take me with you." {Single out one boy in particular when addressing 'dad'}. But his dad had always replied "You are far too young to go on such a long and dangerous journey." But Jo Jo was persistent, and eventually his dad said "Alright Jo Jo, next time I go to the 'big city', you can come with me."

Jo Jo was so excited, he went and told all his friends. They replied "Oh Jo Jo, you are really the lucky one. Out of all the children in this village, you will be the very first to go to the 'big city'. When you are there Jo Jo, will you bring us back something from the 'big city', just to prove that you really went there?" Jo Jo answered "Yes, I will bring something back with me from the 'big city', to prove I really went there.

The great day arrived. Jo Jo and his dad got ready for their journey. Of course, there were no roads in this little village, so they went down to the river, got in a dug out canoe, and began to paddle down the river towards the 'big city'. {As you tell this part of the story, act it out as you are doing so}. It was a long, long way, but eventually Jo Jo and his dad arrived in the 'big city'. Jo Jo stood and looked around in amazement at all the wonderful things that he had never seen before - like motor cars, buses, tall buildings made of brick, street lights and televisions.

Then Jo Jo remembered the promise he had made to his Friends. "Dad, I promised to take my friends back something from the 'big city' to prove I really came here." His dad replied "There is a shop here, why don't you go in and buy something." So Jo Jo went into the shop, explained who he was and what he wanted, and the shopkeeper - - - - - {At this point, you need to act out the part of both the shopkeeper and Jo Jo. I do this by using different voices, putting a funny hat on to denote the shopkeeper,
standing alternatively to the left or right as I deliver my lines, and running between the two positions}. - - - - went to the back of the shop, got something out {Produce a rolled up umbrella from a bag} and said.
"There you are Jo Jo, the very thing for you."
"What is it?"
"That's an umbrella."
"An umbrella, but what does it do?"
"Well, when it rains, you get out your umbrella, and it stops you from getting wet. It keeps you dry in the rain."
"Wow! That sounds amazing. I have never heard of anything like that. My friends will be really impressed. I will take it."

So Jo Jo paid over his money, bought his umbrella, went back to his dad, and got ready for the journey home. As they paddled down the river, they had to beat off a few crocodiles. {Lightly tap some of the children (crocodiles) with the umbrella as you "paddle' around the room}. When Jo Jo got home, all his friends were waiting for him.
"Hey, Jo Jo. Did you really go to the big city?"
"Yes, it was amazing. There were things there called motor cars that could travel faster than tigers. And big things that people got inside of and moved about in called buses, that were bigger than elephants. And big, tall buildings made of brick, that were even taller than giraffes!"
"That sounds fantastic Jo Jo. But did you remember to bring us back something from the big city to prove that you really went there?"
"Yes, here it is. {Hold up the umbrella}
"What is that?"
"That's an umbrella."
"An umbrella. What does it do?"
"Well, when it rains, I will get out my umbrella, and it will keep me dry in the rain."
"That sounds amazing Jo Jo. Alright, next time it rains, we will come round to your house, and you can show us how it works."

A few days later, it began to rain. So all Jo Jo's friends came out, and knocked on his door (knock, knock).
"Hey Jo Jo, it's raining. Come on out and bring that magic umbrella with you. Show us how it keeps you dry in the rain."
So Jo Jo picked up his umbrella and walked to the centre of the village square. All Jo Jo's friends were watching. But Jo Jo got his umbrella and went - - - - - {Hold out the closed umbrella straight out in front of you, then to the left, then to the right}. Of course, the rain still fell on Jo Jo, and all his friends laughed.
"Ha Ha Jo Jo, you are as wet as the rest of us. That umbrella's useless, I would go and get your money back if I were you."

Jo Jo was so sad and disappointed, he went back to his dad.
"Dad. I made a fool of myself in front of all my friends. I got soaking wet, and they all laughed at me. You will have to take me back to the big city to get my money back for this rotten umbrella."
"Alright Jo Jo, next time I go to the big city, you can come with me."

So a few weeks later, Jo Jo and his dad got ready for their journey. This time, because they had had so many problems with crocodiles in the river, they came prepared. {Take out your rubber hammer and gently hit some of the 'crocodiles' on your journey}. This time Jo Jo didn't bother looking at all the sights, he rushed straight into the shop.
"Give me my money back for this rotten umbrella. I made a fool of myself in front of all my friends. I got soaking wet, and they all laughed at me."
"But Jo Jo, did you hold the umbrella above your head?"
"Well, no. I didn't actually hold it above my head."
"Oh yes Jo Jo, for the umbrella to work, you need to hold it above your head."
"Oh, I didn't realise that. Alright, I will keep it."

So Jo Jo picked up his umbrella, went back to his dad, down to the river, into the dugout canoe, and paddled down the river - beating off crocodiles as they did. {Hit your 'dad' with the hammer}.
"Oh no. I just did something terrible. I just hit my dad. Sorry, Dad. I thought you were a crocodile!"

All Jo Jo's friends were waiting for him.
"Hey Jo Jo, did you get your money back for that rotten umbrella?"
"No, but I know how it works now."
"Alright Jo Jo, next time it rains, we will come round to your house, and you can show us how it keeps you dry in the rain."

A few days later, it began to rain. So all Jo Jo's friends came out, and knocked on his door (knock, knock).
"Hey Jo Jo, it's raining again. Come on out and bring that magic umbrella with you. Show us how it keeps you dry in the rain."
So Jo Jo picked up his umbrella and walked to the centre of the village square. All Jo Jo's friends were watching. Jo Jo held his umbrella (still unopened) horizontally above his head. Then he held it vertically {swing it around a little}. Of course, it still rained on Jo Jo, and all his friends laughed again.
"Jo Jo, you are still as wet as the rest of us, and you never got your money back for that rotten umbrella."

Jo Jo was so sad and disappointed, he went back to his dad.
"Dad. I made a fool of myself in front of all my friends again. I got soaking wet, and they all laughed at me. You will have to take me back to the big city to get my money back for this rotten umbrella. What's that! You won't take me back to the big city? Oh dad! Dad won't take me back to the big city."
{Single out one girl in particular} "Mum. You tell dad to take me back to the big city. He will listen to you. Dad's always do what mum's tell them don't they!"

So it was agreed. A few weeks later Jo Jo and his dad got ready for their journey - beating off crocodiles as they went. {By this time you will probably have lots of volunteer 'crocodiles'}. Jo Jo rushed into the shop.
"Give me my money back for this rotten umbrella. I made a fool of myself in front of all my friends again. I got soaking wet, and they all laughed at me."
"But Jo Jo, did you hold the umbrella above your head like I told you?"
"Yes I did. But I still got soaking wet. Come on, give me my money back."
"But Jo Jo, did you open the umbrella up?"
" - - - - - Open it up. What do you mean 'open it up'"
"Here Jo Jo, let me show you." {Open up the umbrella as you describe the actions}. "When it rains, you get out your umbrella, press this little switch here, give it a shake, and open up the umbrella like this. Then, you hold it above your head - and the rain falls on the umbrella, instead of falling on you!"
"Oh, yes. Now I understand. Now I see how it works. I will keep it"

So Jo Jo fastened up his umbrella, went back to his dad, and got ready for the journey home. This time, because they had had so many problems with crocodiles on the river, they decided to walk back through the jungle {Begin to walk around}. There are no crocodiles in the jungle! - - - - - However, there were a few lions and tigers that they had to beat off!

All Jo Jo's friends were waiting for him.
"Hey Jo Jo, did you get your money back for that rotten umbrella?"
"No, but I know how it works now."
"Oh you do do you Jo Jo? Alright next time it rains, we will come round to your house, and you can show us how it keeps you dry in the rain - Ha Ha."

The very next day, it poured with rain. Despite that all Jo Jo's friends came out, and knocked on his door (knock, knock).
"Hey Jo Jo, in case you hadn't noticed, it's raining. Come on out and bring that magic umbrella with you. Show us how it keeps you dry in the rain. Ha Ha."
So Jo Jo picked up his umbrella and walked to the centre of the village square. All Jo Jo's friends were watching. But Jo Jo got his umbrella, pushed the little switch like he had been told, gave it a little shake, opened it up, and held it above his head. Of course, the rain fell on the umbrella instead of on Jo Jo. So Jo Jo looked around at all his friends and said
"Ha Ha. The joke's on you now, because I'm nice and dry under this umbrella, and all you are getting soaking wet!"

Telling the "Jo Jo and the Umbrella" story.


Jo Jo finally learned how to use his umbrella the right way. But until he did, it was absolutely useless to him. And the right way to use it was "to open it up." That story reminds me of something many people have got, but it is absolutely useless to them if they don't know the right way to use it. I wonder if anyone can guess what I am talking about? - - - - - I will give you a clue, it is a book. - - - - - That's right, the answer is the Bible. Many people have a Bible, but unless they know the right way to use it, they might as well not have it.

Can anyone tell me what makes the Bible special? What makes it different from every other book that has ever been written? - - - - - That's right as Christians we believe that God, the Creator Himself, wrote the Bible. That is why it is often called God's Word. Please don't misunderstand me, ordinary people wrote down the words that we read in the Bible. But God told them what to write. God is the Author.

The Bible is important to us for four main reasons:-

1. It is a book about God.

The Bible is a book that God has written about Himself. So if you want to know what God is really like - Go to the Bible, because nobody knows God better than God knows God!

2. It is a book about ourselves.

The Bible is a book that God has written about us. It is often likened to a mirror. If you want to know what you are like on the outside, you look in a mirror. But if you want to know what you are really like on the inside (what the Bible calls your heart or spirit) - Go to the Bible, because God created you and knows you better than anyone else.

3. It is an instruction book for life.

God knows what's good for you, and He knows what is bad. If you keep going to the Bible, and doing what it says, you won't go far wrong in life. But if you never look at the Bible, or ignore what is says, you are bound to make mistakes and go off in wrong directions through life.

4. It tells you how to become God's friend.

God created us to be His friends - so that He can enjoy us, and we can enjoy Him, both now and forever. And the Bible tells us how through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, we can all become God's friends.


What is the only way that the Bible will do you any good? Suppose you took it to school with you and just before doing a test, you take it out, tap it for luck and say "I will get top marks today, because I have my Bible with me." Would that do you any good? No, of course not. What then is the only way that the Bible will do you any good? - - - - - that's right, by reading it. So remember the story of Jo Jo and the umbrella. The only way it could do him any good was by opening it up. It is the same with the Bible. It is meant to be opened up and read.

This is my Bible {Produce a warn looking Bible, the more tattered the better}. You are probably thinking "Oh Mr, ________, your Bible is a disgrace. It is battered, warn and dirty." So it is. But that is how I like to see a Bible. When I see a scruffy Bible like this, I know that the owner has been using it in the right way. They have been taking it out, opening it up, and reading it. When I see a nice clean looking Bible, I think the owner has put it away somewhere like a bookcase and forgotten about it. It stays clean in the bookcase! But it doesn't do you any good there. It is God's love letter to you and, like any letter, is meant to be read.

After reading the Bible, we are meant to DO what it says. It is no good reading in the Bible where it says, for example, we should treat other people as we would like them to treat us, if you argue and fight with your brother or sister! No. We need to be obedient to what God says in the Bible. Then it will do us good!

Object Lessons.

Object lessons 13 and 38 ( can be used in association with the above story.

Story - Cuthbert the clock.

Preparation. To illustrate this story you could show the children two clocks and produce them at the appropriate times. The first (Cuthbert) should be a large, expensive looking one. The second should be a small cheap looking one, e.g. an alarm clock.

Story. Cuthbert was a big, chiming, handsome clock, which the Smith family had purchased for a lot of money. They were very proud of Cuthbert. The problem was, Cuthbert wasn't a real clock, he was a pretend one.

One day Cuthbert thought to himself "I'll have a great time today. I am getting really good at pretending." Only last week he had been slow, and made Mr Smith late for work, and the children late for school. He thought it was great fun. "Today I will be fast" thought Cuthbert. At 6 a.m. Cuthbert chimed 7 a.m., and all the Smiths got up 1 hour too early. They groaned when they switched on the T.V. and found the real time. "Oh that stupid clock" they thought. Cuthbert just laughed, he thought it was great fun. But the Smiths were angry.

When the Smiths looked at Cuthbert, they expected to see the right time. Cuthbert looked like a clock, he chimed like a clock, he had a face like a clock, when they bought him, he even had a label attached, which said "clock". But Cuthbert wasn't a real clock because he didn't keep the right time. He didn't do what he was supposed to do. He was a pretend clock!

The Smiths were going on holiday. They had their aeroplane tickets booked for a 9 a.m. flight. But Cuthbert played "Pretend" once too often. He got everyone up too late, and they missed their flight. They all looked at Cuthbert "He'll have to go" said Mr Smith - and threw Cuthbert away! Cuthbert was replaced by a cheap little alarm clock. It didn't look as handsome as Cuthbert. But it was a real clock and did what it was supposed to do. It kept the right time.

Like Cuthbert, the pretend clock, there are some pretend Christians. They appear to be good, do and say all the right things, but they are pretending. They don't really know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. But when Jesus returns to earth, only the real Christians will welcome Him, and go to be with Him in heaven. All the pretenders will be found out and left behind. We need to make sure that we are REAL Christians, and not pretend ones.

"I give you me!"

A teacher wanted to teach his pupils the real meaning of "Christmas". He explained that Christmas was Jesus' birthday, and that as it was customary to give a gift to people on their birthday, he asked all the children to bring in a gift for Jesus on that special day. He explained that he would like the children to all think hard about their gift and that it should be a one that would be worthy to give to Jesus, the Son of God and Saviour of the world.

The teacher placed a large box in the centre of the classroom and, as the children arrived - many of them obviously carrying a gift - , asked them to come out one at a time and place their gift for Jesus in the empty box.

Matthew was the first to come forward, and the other children gasped to see him pushing his bicycle towards the box. Everyone knew how much Matthew loved his bike. He had been saving up for it for months, and after he finally had enough to buy it just a few weeks ago, he was seen riding it for hour after hour. Surely Matthew wasn't going to give his precious bike away? But no. Matthew lifted his bike into the box, clasped his hands together and prayed "Jesus, I give you my bike."

Next to come forward was Amanda. Again their was a gasp from the other children as they saw her carrying her favourite Barbie doll. She was rarely seen without her precious Barbie doll. But she placed it in the box and prayed "Jesus, I give you my Barbie doll."

Next up was Big Joe. Everyone knew how much Joe liked chocolate. But there he was, carrying, a large box of chocolates to give to Jesus. How hard that must have been for Joe to give his chocolates away. And so it went on. Each child had obviously thought long and hard about their gift and gave up something that they were bound to miss.

Finally, there was only Poor Jimmy left. He was know as 'Poor Jimmy' because he obviously was very poor. He never seemed to wear any nice clothes, or have very much in his lunch box. In fact, sometimes, he didn't bring any lunch with him at all. It was said that his father had died, and that his mother didn't have much money to look after Jimmy and his brothers and sisters. What sort of gift would Jimmy give to Jesus?

"It's your turn now, Jimmy" said the teacher. "Bring your gift to Jesus." Slowly, Jimmy got up and started walking towards the box. A few children giggled and whispered "He's not got anything. Look. There is nothing in his hands. Jimmy is carrying nothing to give to Jesus." Eventually Jimmy arrived at the box. He hesitated for a moment, and then jumped right into the box and sat down. "Jimmy, What on earth are you doing" asked the teacher. But Jimmy just put his hands together and prayed "Jesus, I give you me! I give all of my life to you."

Question. Which of those children gave the best gift to Jesus? That's right, Jimmy did.

Jesus told us that when we are giving to others, we are actually giving to Him. Some people give money to Jesus (Perhaps when they give to the church offering, or to a charity), some give up some of their time or talents (abilities) to help others. And that is good. But what Jesus wants each one of us to give to him is all of our Lives, just like Jimmy did. He gave his life for us, and he wants us to give All of our lives back to him. He will never be satisfied with a little bit of our money, time, talents, or anything else we can offer him. No, He wants All of us.

What does this mean in practice? It means living for Jesus. It means putting Him first all the time. It means that our attitude should be not, "What is best for me, or what do I want to do?" but rather "What is best for Jesus. What does He want me to do?" That is giving yourself to Jesus.

Prayer. "Jesus, I give all of my life to you. I may not have a lot, but what I do have, I give it all to you. Help me to use my money, time, talents and everything else I have in a way that pleases you. Amen."

Story - The old oak tree.

Many of you will know this story as it has been around for many years in various forms. It was actually the inspiration for the hit song "Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree" that was a big hit for Tony Orlando and Dawn in 1973. This is the version of the story that I use. I have found it ideal for teaching children about the extent of God's love for them.

A young man appeared to have an ideal life. He had a good job, a nice home, a loving wife and two adorable sons. There was nothing he liked better than spending tome with his family, and especially playing with his two boys.

But there was something wrong with his life. He was greedy. He thought that his boss didn't pay him enough money. So he began to steal money from the company he worked for. Just a little at first, and then more and more. Eventually, he had stolen quite a lot of money. He thought he had got away with it but, returning home one day, he saw a police car parked outside his house. He immediately realised that he had been found out.

The man was put on trial, pleaded guilty and sentenced to five years imprisonment. He was genuinely sorry for what he had done, and deeply ashamed for letting down his family. "They will never forgive me" he thought as he was led off to prison. "They are better off without me. What will our friends say to my wife when they find out what has happened? How will my sons be treated at school?" Right then that man made a decision to cut himself off from his family. "I have only brought shame to them. They will be better off without me."

Shortly after arriving in prison the man received a letter. He knew from the handwriting that it was from his wife, but he didn't open it. He was no longer part of her life. He kept on receiving letters from his wife, frequently at first, then less and less until, after about a year, they stopped coming. He didn't open any of them.

After three years, the Prison Governor called the man into his office to say that, because of his good behaviour, he was to be released the following week. Normally this would have been good news, but not for that man as he had nowhere to go on his release. He suddenly remembered his wife and sons and how good it used to be living with them. He wondered if in some way they might be willing to forgive him and take him back as their husband and father.

So the man hurriedly wrote a letter to his wife, explaining that he would soon be released, and wondering if she and their sons were prepared to forgive him and allow him to come back home. He explained that he would be on a bus that would pass right through their town and added "If you can find it in your heart to forgive me and take me back home, tie a handkerchief around a branch on that old oak tree at the front of our home. If I see a handkerchief when the bus passes, I will know that you have forgiven me and that I will be welcome. But if I don't see one, I will remain on the bus, and you will never hear from me again."

Release day came and, along with other prisoners, he boarded his bus. The other prisoners were happy upon their release, but the man was looking sad as he wondered if his wife would take him back. He was asked why he looked so sad, and explained the whole story to the other passengers. Many of the original passengers left the bus, but others took their place and were told the man's story. Many hours later, as the bus entered the man's home town, all the passengers knew his story and were eagerly looking to see if a handkerchief was tied round that old oak tree.

The bus turned a corner and entered the street where the man used to live. He eagerly looked out of the window at the old oak tree. But he didn't see one handkerchief - - - - - He saw hundreds and hundreds of them! Every branch on that large tree was covered with handkerchiefs.

That man's wife had never stopped loving him. She had forgiven him straight away for what he had done, and longed for the day when he would be allowed to return home. She was bitterly disappointed when he didn't reply to her letters. But when she finally did hear from him, it was the happiest day of her life.

Immediately she selected the largest handkerchief she could find and tied it on one of the oak tree's branches. But the handkerchief looked so small compared to that large tree. Suppose her husband didn't see it and stayed on the bus? She got her sons to help and rounded up all the material they could find to tie on the branches. But still she wasn't satisfied. She really wanted her husband to know how much he was loved and how very welcome he was. So she went to her neighbours and got more material from them. By the time the bus arrived, the whole tree was covered with material. No-one could possibly miss it.

In the same way God wants us to know how much he loves us and is willing to welcome us into His family. To understand how much He loves us, he asks us to look at another tree. No, not an oak tree, but a tree on which he allowed his Son, Jesus Christ to be crucified for our sins. When we really look at that tree, we know just how much God loves us.

Whistle down the wind.

Many years ago, I saw a film called "Whistle down the wind". In it a criminal was on the run from the police. To avoid being captured, he hid in a farm barn. The criminal was later discovered by some children, who asked hin "Who are you?" The man replied, "Jesus". And the children belived him!

Because they thought that Jesus was sheltering in their barn, the children brought the man some food, followed by warm clothes. They even gave him some money. Thus, the children were good to the man because they thought that they were being good to Jesus.

Actually those children were being good to Jesus, because He told us that if we are being good to others, we are being good to Him. There is no difference.

So, if you are good to someone, by giving to them or helping them in some way, you are really being good to Jesus. Conversely, if you are bad to someone, refusing to help them when you can, or by lying, stealing, hitting, gossiping, etc., you are really being bad to Jesus. (See Matthew 25. 31-46.)

So treat other people as if they were Jesus. That is what God wants you to do.

Story - The wise man.
A very old and wise man was nearing the end of his life. An admirer asked him "Over your many years of study, what have you learned about life?" He replied "I have learned that the things of life fall into three groups - those that are not important, those that are a little important and those that are very important."
The old man went on to explain. "The things of life that are not important include a big house, a comfortable car, a healthy Bank balance, control over others and the admiration of others."
"The things that are a little important are having enough food to eat, having clean water to drink, and having a way to keep yourself warm."
"The things that are very important are doing all you can to ensure that others have enough food to eat, clean water to drink, and a way to keep themselves warm."
That really sums up the Gospel. Jesus said "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25 vs. 35-36, 39).

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