To introduce the lesson, we talked about ways in which we are all alike. When I asked for some ways in which we are different, the first answer I got was, “private parts.” Not exactly what I was expecting. I think these kids are getting a lot of sex education and resist-abuse instruction. (Witness the dreams-for-the-future essay that began, “I want to be a pilot. Please do not abuse me.”) Not surprising when the dangers are all around them, even from those closest to them. But I don’t think they are getting much of the spiritual foundation for self-respect and personal discipline that can turn classroom instruction into positive lifestyle.
I remember my seminary students long ago in Mozambique telling me they knew the correct answer to the sanitation question I had asked in health class, but it didn’t have anything to do with the reality of chickens coming through the hole in the wall to roost in the ‘lounge’ of their small dormitory, leaving their droppings on the table. Classroom answers and changing your whole way of thinking about your self and your relationship to your world are totally different things. (We spent the rest of that class plugging the hole and cleaning the table.)
I hope that some of the ideas we have talked about these last four weeks have gotten through to some young minds. Or at least, that the memory of the lady who brought them marshmallows and read from the Bible will encourage them to look to that Guidebook for their life journeys.