September 16, 2005

Sharing the Good News
of Jesus

A Note to Parents and Teachers
Witnessing is a huge task for every child. Unfortunately, today's world has many distractions for children through television, the Internet, and other mass media. But Jesus' commission calls for everyone, including every child, to share the gospel.

As Jesus' second coming is fast approaching, parents, teachers, and everyone else in the church need to join hands together in unity to proclaim the gospel to all those who have not heard it. Let's involve our children as God's little missionaries to share the good news with their friends.

These readings will emphasize the importance of uniting in effort to witness through stories, illustrations, activities, and applications. For a start, you may want to try the following ideas with your children:

1. Start a prayer-and-share book for children in groups. Ask them to write down the names of friends who do not attend church or do not know about Jesus. Have the children pray for each friend on the list and then invite them to Sabbath school or other activities.

2. Create invitation cards to attend church to give to the specific friends they prayed for.

Special note: Almost all the stories are told in the first person since they're of my own experience. Therefore, before each reading, you may want to say something such as this to the children: "Today, boys and girls, Mrs. Koh has another story for us." This will help identify the "I" in each reading, and put things in persepective for them.

first sabbath

A Hole-in-the Heart Brother

Memory Gem
"But the Holy Spirit will come to you. Then you will receive power. You will be my witnesses--in Jerusalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world" (Acts 1:8).*

Motivational Aid
Show a series of pictures or a short video clip of a car accident. Ask volunteers to describe what they saw, and write what they say on the board or flipchart. Have the children compare the reports of each volunteer. Ask, "Did all those who saw the accident give similar reports? Why do their descriptions vary?"

Explain that anyone who saw or experienced an event is a witness. Jesus wanted His disciples to witness to others about His love. Suggest that Jesus also wants us to witness and share the good news of His love with our friends.

It was bad news! It was heartbreaking news! The Kozinski family had been looking forward to the arrival of a new baby brother. For big brother Ivan it was a dream come true. "Hurrah!" he said. "I'll have someone to play with!"

But all their hopes were dashed quickly when they arrived at the hospital. "Why are you crying, Mommy?" Ivan asked softly as he rubbed her gentle hands. Mommy explained that the doctor had announced earlier that Alexandr, their new baby, had a hole in his heart. It was a shock to everyone. But the doctor had added, "There's a chance that the hole will close up by itself after he grows up." Chance! But what is the chance?

The family believed in God. They believed that Jesus could heal Alexandr if it was His will. "Let's rally everyone for sessions of prayer," suggested Father. "I'll contact people to pray for baby Alexandr." Father divided up a list of people they needed to contact. He would take care of the list of church members and relatives, while mother would inform her women friends from the associations she was involved in.

1540 kids sabbath1"Ivan, why don't you contact your teachers, your classmates, and our neighbors?" Father asked.

"Ok, Papa," Ivan answered willingly. Father was on the telephone the whole night. He surely had a long list of people to call. As for Ivan, he went to work immediately the next day after arriving at school. He asked the teachers, the principal, the entire school, to pray for his brother.

Guess what? Within a few days various teams were set up for the prayer marathon. Some were all-night prayer sessions, which seemed too long for Ivan. He joined with everyone else to pray for his baby brother.

And after some months God did answer their prayers.

"Well, it's amazing that the hole has closed up!" announced the doctor in surprise. "It's a miracle! It's a miracle!"

"Ivan, let's call everyone to tell them about the good news!" exclaimed Father. Ivan was so excited to tell his teachers and friends the next morning that he could hardly contain himself! It was something to celebrate about! When you have good news, you simply can't wait to tell it!

Remember the Samaritan woman at the well in the town of Sychar? When she found Jesus, the Messiah, she was so joyful that she "left her water jar and went back to town. She said to the people, 'A man told me everything I have ever done. Come see him. Maybe he is the Christ!'" (John 4:29). Yes, she had good news to share!

On another occasion four lepers found plenty of food and treasures in the camp of their enemies, the Syrians. They started to help themselves, but then they said to one another, "We're doing wrong. Today we have good news, but we are silent. . . . Let's go now and tell the people in the king's palace" (2 Kings 7:9). Such good news at a time when hardly any food was available in the city! Everyone was able to eat to his or her fullest. The lepers were great witnesses!

After Jesus went back to heaven, the disciples became energized to share the good news with people everywhere, telling them that Jesus loved them and had gone to make a place for them in heaven. Jesus promised to give them power. As they gathered in prayer in one place, "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages" (Acts 2:4). Yes, the disciples united in their effort to tell the good news that spread throughout the world. Today we have the Christian church. It all started with a few people in that little church in Jerusalem.

Can you think of some good news to share with your friend, your neighbor, your grandpa? Maybe you made an A on your test? Won a contest? Received a special gift you always wanted? Are going on a trip to Japan or some other faraway country?
Then make a list of blessings Jesus has given you this month and share that with a friend.

1. Why is it difficult to hold back good news?
2. What are the benefits of working together in sharing good news?
3. What's the best way to tell the good news about Jesus?

Draw two posters to promote some exciting events that may be coming up in your school or church. Decorate them with lots of colors and write messages that will captivate your audience.

A Grand Reunion!

Memory Gem
"Don't be afraid. You are looking for Jesus from Nazareth, the one who was killed on a cross. He has risen from death" (Mark 16:6).

Motivational Aid
Gather some newspapers and look into the obituary pages. Cut out pictures of women who have died, and let children look at them together. Examine each picture and note the number of children and grandchildren they left behind. Ask, "Why are mothers precious to us? How can you honor your mother? Do you remember her birthday?"

It was the most exciting event of the year for me! Our family would be taking our yearly trip to Hong Kong to visit our relatives. Wow! I can't wait to be on this huge ocean liner! I thought. There are always lots of good food and fun children's things to do. We waited impatiently until time to leave for the harbor.

Suddenly the telephone rang. It was dad. He said solemnly, "Come immediately to the hospital." My aunt rushed us to the hospital. "What's wrong with Mom? Is she going to be ok?" I asked anxiously as soon as I saw Dad. I was very frightened and confused.

Just that morning we'd been happily packing and talking about what we would do during our vacation in Hong Kong. Then Mom had decided to go for her usual physical checkup since we had so much time before departure. Right at that moment my little 8-year-old mind couldn't figure out why we were at the hospital and not at the harbor.

Dad sat down with us three children and said calmly, "Something has just happened to Mom. The doctors are working on her." But he surely looked very, very sad!

Finally, at 5:00 that afternoon, three doctors came out of the operating room and spoke with Dad. "We've done everything we could," they said. "We just couldn't save her."

Dad cried and wailed loudly. I rushed up to Dad, clinging to his legs and crying, "I want Mommy. I want Mommy." But the doctors couldn't save Mom. She died on that August day.

At the funeral service the pastor talked about our meeting Mom again when Jesus comes the second time. She will be raised from the grave. At once I felt better. I looked forward to meeting Mom again at Jesus' second coming.

1540 kids sundaySimilarly, one day in Jerusalem the disciples and many other people who loved Jesus were very sad when they remembered the terrible cross. I am sure there were tears and sobs. But imagine what it was like when Mary reported the good news: "I saw the Lord!" (John 20:18). Yes, Jesus is alive! When Jesus appeared to His followers, they "were very happy when they saw the Lord" (John 20:20).

The disciples and Jesus' other followers were overjoyed that He was alive. They started to preach this good news to everyone in Judea, Galilee, Samaria, and everywhere else. Soon they started a church. They wanted the whole world to know the wonderful sacrifice of God's Son on the cross and His glorious resurrection that gives hope for everyone who accepts Him.

As you sit in Sabbath school and church each week, remember that Jesus loves you and will come back for you. You can join everyone else in singing my favorite song, "Alive! Alive! My Jesus is Alive!"

Even though I miss Mom dearly, I am not sad anymore, because Jesus has promised that "he will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain" (Rev. 21:4). "Listen!" He says in the Bible. "I am coming soon! I will bring rewards with me" (Rev. 22:12). I'm looking forward to that grand reunion in heaven. Let's tell others this wonderful news so they won't be sad anymore. Jesus is our hope!

Ask your parents or caregiver to take you to visit a hospital. Go to the children's ward and give some gifts to the children there. Give them little cards that you have created with a message of joy and hope in Jesus. Ask them to trust in Jesus, who is coming again to take us home. Share with each child some Bible verses of hope.

1. How do you feel if someone you love is dying of cancer?
2. Suppose someone said to you, "I am not sure if I'll ever again see my dad, who died three years ago"? What would you say? What Bible texts can you use to help him or her find hope?
3. What can you do to cheer up the sick and dying?

Learn the song "Alive! Alive! My Jesus Is Alive!" and ask your Sabbath school teacher if you can share it with the rest of the children in your class.

Falling off the Camel's Back

Memory Gem
"Your word is like a lamp for my feet and a light for my way" (Ps. 119:105).

Motivational Aid
Place a big black box at the front of the room. Ask for volunteers to step into the box and cover it. Ask them if they can see anything. Then give them a book to read. After a short while, give them a flashlight to read the book while still inside the box. Let them out and then ask, "How do you feel, reading in the dark? Did you have to strain your eyes to read the words? How did the flashlight help?"

My husband took a trip to the Holy Land some years ago. Late one afternoon the tour group was scheduled to climb Mount Sinai. He was excited about this trip. Wouldn't it be thrilling to climb the same hill that Moses did?

The climb was a steep one, with the guide right at the front. After climbing what seemed like thousands of feet, my husband was tired out. Quite a few others were also slowing down. Suddenly, almost out of nowhere, camels appeared as their keepers shouted, "Cheap ride! Cheap ride!"

Of course, my husband could not refuse. Immediately he climbed onto the hump of one camel. "It should be easy climbing the rest of the way," he smiled to himself.

The sun was setting and it was getting dark. When darkness finally surrounded them, it seemed impossible to move on. There was no light to show the way. My husband held on tightly to the reins as the camel was being led by its keeper. "I wonder how the camel knows where it should step?" my husband asked anxiously.

As the train of camels moved along, all of a sudden there was a shout. "Help!" Then there was a thud! And a crash! And a commotion of people talking, dashing here and there. Looking to the left, my husband saw his friend Sonny falling off his camel.

1540 kids monday"Grab my hand!" he yelled. In a split second Sonny clung to my husband's hand.

The camel keepers rushed toward them with a fluorescent lamp. To their amazement the camel had missed a step, and one of its left hooves was down the side of a cliff. Thank God that the camel didn't fall over. Sonny could have lost his life.

Everyone refused to move on until the keepers brought lamps and flashlights to guide the way. The remaining path up to the top of Mount Sinai was lit by streams of lights. Now everyone could see where they were going.

The Word of God, the Bible, is very much like these lights. It tells us that "all Scripture is given by God and is useful for teaching and for showing people what is wrong in their lives"
(2 Tim. 3:16).

When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He used the Word of God to fight off these temptations. Jesus answered the devil, "It is written in the Scriptures, 'A person does not live only by eating bread. But a person lives by everything the Lord says'" (Matt. 4:4). He added, "It is written in the Scriptures, 'You must worship the Lord your God. Serve only him!'" (Matt. 4:10).

King David planned to kill one of his commanders, Uriah, so that he could marry Uriah's wife. The Scriptures pointed out his sin, reminding him of one of the Ten Command-
ments: "You must not be guilty of adultery" (Ex. 20:14).

Yes, the Bible is an important light and "is useful for correcting faults and teaching how to live right. Using the Scriptures, the person who serves God will be ready and will have everything he needs to do every good work"

(2 Tim. 3:16, 17). Don't keep it to yourself. Share this with your friends so they can live right too.

Make a list of good things that the Bible teaches you to do. How many times should you forgive others? Do you visit the widows and orphans? Then make a second list of bad habits and behaviors that the Bible condemns. Do you feel proud? Hate your enemies? Disobey your parents? Then share this list with a friend and talk about how Jesus can help you to do two or three of the good deeds on your list each week.

1. Does the Bible show you how to deal with the temptations of drugs, alcohol, and reading bad books?
2. How can the Bible continue to be a light for your path?
3. What do you think you can do to make Bible study more interesting?

Look up a book that tells about fireflies. Find out how fireflies give out light. Write a short description of how fireflies are similar to the Bible with regard to giving light.

A Tug-of-war

Memory Gem
"Control yourselves and be careful! The devil is your enemy. And he goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to eat" (1 Peter 5:8).

Motivational Aid
Place two gift-wrapped boxes on the table. Label the first box with the words Satan Tempts, and the second box with Jesus Wins. Have children write down on strips of paper the temptations they have, and put them into the first box. Then on another strip of paper, have each child write out how they can win over Satan for each of those temptations, and drop them into the second box, which says Jesus Wins. Then ask, "Is it easy to stop fighting with Satan?" Have a little discussion.

"I got that airplane first!" Yoyo yelled.

"Who said so?" Rachel said loudly. "I touched it first!"

"It's not fair!" Yoyo shouted, pulling the airplane toward him.

Soon brother and sister were in a tug-of-war. Rachel pulled the wing of the airplane toward her, while Yoyo snatched at the tail as hard as he could.

Crashhh! Suddenly the airplane broke into two pieces, with half of the plane in each child's hands.

"See what you've done!" Rachel snapped. "You wrecked it."

1540 kids teusday"It's your fault," Yoyo said angrily.

Suddenly he picked up a pair of scissors that was lying on the floor beside him and threw it straight at his sister. The scissors flew by Rachel, missing her face by only a few centimeters, just as Mother stepped into their room.

"What have you done, Yoyo?" Mother asked. "You could have cut your sister's face and hurt her badly."

"I'm really sorry," Yoyo said, looking like he was about to cry.

"I'm sorry too," Rachel said quietly as she put her hand on her brother's shoulder.

Mother came over and hugged Rachel and Yoyo. They prayed to Jesus, asking Him to help them to love and not hurt each other.

The Bible tells us that there was a fight in heaven. Satan, an angel called Lucifer, thought he was smarter than God. He felt that he was just as good as God's Son. He was angry when God did not include him in all His plans. So Satan turned against God and started a war in heaven. Can you imagine that? Satan was trying to get the angels to fight against God! He told them that God was selfish and that He was not fair. He should not be trusted. Eventually Satan and one third of the angels were thrown out of heaven.

Satan tempted Adam and Eve to choose his side by eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Choosing Satan is sinning, and the price of sinning is death. Although Adam and Eve did not die immediately, they began to pay the price of sinning immediately. They argued and blamed each other. They had to work hard for a living. They had to leave the Garden of Eden.

But God had a plan to fix everything and make it back into what it was at the beginning. That plan was for Jesus to come to the earth as a little baby. He would live on earth and show people what God was like. Then He would die on the cross. The Son of God would save us from our sins. "For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. God gave his Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

Isn't this wonderful? If you believe in Jesus and choose to follow Him, you will live forever with God and Jesus in the earth made new! Let's tell our friends and our neighbors about the terrible fight in heaven. We can help them choose Jesus instead of Satan.

Ask the children, "How do you protect yourself from Satan?" Draw a picture of the armor of God as found in Ephesians 6:11-17 and identify what weapons could help you win in your fight with Satan. Share that with a friend.

1. Why do you think fighting is always bad?
2. How is Satan fighting with you in your life?
3. What is the best weapon to fight your battles with Satan?

Look up five Bible verses that show how to win your battles with Satan.
Write them on colored cards. Add your own illustrations to go with each. Pin them up in your room or place them on your desk.

Bicycle Outreach

Memory Gem
"You are the salt of the earth. . . .You are the light that gives light to the world. . . . Live so that they will see the good things you do. Live so that they will praise your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:13-16).

Motivational Aid
Hold up a picture of a lighthouse. Have the children identify the uses of the lighthouse. Discuss whether a lighthouse is necessary today in a world of technology and computers. Then ask, "How is your life like a lighthouse?"

Cesar and Juan were both 11 years old. They lived in Arequipa, Peru. They loved the mountains that surrounded their homes in the village. They also had many special friends in their neighboring region of Cerro Colorado.

"Juan, do you like those small group meetings we attend every Wednesday night?" asked Cesar with a twinkle in his eye.

"They're great!" smiled Juan. "And hey, you are a great song leader!"

"Thanks. Say, why don't we go over the mountain and invite our friends to form a group too?" Cesar suggested eagerly.

"It's a great idea! But how do we do this?" Juan wondered. "It'll take us many days just to walk to Cerro."

"Hey! Don't forget we have our bicycles! That would do," Cesar said confidently. "You can go and invite Pedro, Jacinto, and Ronaldo, while I go to invite Johan, Rosita, and Alberto."

"Let's get to work!" they echoed together.

1540 kids wednesdayCesar and Juan rode their bicycles up the mountain path every day to Cerro to meet together with their friends and neighbors for their small group. Dividing up the Bible topics, they both led out in singing, Bible stories, and sharing of experiences. There were difficulties along the mountain trails, but nothing could dampen their spirits or deter them from their mission. After many months six of their friends decided to follow Jesus and be baptized. What shining lights Cesar and Juan have been!

Remember the little maid who served the wife of Captain Naaman of Aram? She was a light in the household of Naaman. When her master had leprosy, a harmful skin disease, she immediately told her mistress the good news that the prophet in Samaria could heal him. The Bible says, "Naaman went to the king. He told him what the girl from Israel had said" (2 Kings 5:4). What a great life of witnessing! The captain believed in the true God after he was healed.

In the life of Ruth, a girl from Moab, her mother-in-law, Naomi, was like the light in sharing the good news with her. Naomi's kindness and love helped Ruth to understand God's love. Though Naomi suggested that she leave and return home to her people, Ruth answered positively, "Don't ask me to leave you! . . . Every place you go, I will go. Every place you live, I will live. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God," (Ruth 1:16). Naomi was indeed the light and the salt in her home and community.

Invite a friend to join you in a community project. Select a project you can help out with in the community, and tell your Sabbath school teacher or pastor about it. Or volunteer in an ongoing community project of the church. Maybe you can spend one hour reading the Bible to an elderly person, or tell Bible stories to underprivileged children. Write down a few more things you can do to share Jesus with others.

1. Why is it important to treat others with love and kindness?
2. In what way is a true, loving Christian better able to witness for Jesus?
3. What does it mean to be intentional light or salt in your community?

Clip news items from the daily newspapers that report on some sick children or children involved in an accident. Write a letter or a card for each of them and ask your parents or teacher to mail or take them to the hospital for you.

All Tangled Up!

Memory Gem
"All people have sinned and are not good enough for God's glory. People are made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift. They are made right with God by being made free from sin through Jesus Christ" (Rom. 3:23, 24).

Motivational Aid
Have children look through some newspapers and identify and make a list of the various types of crimes committed: murders? child abuse? robbery? cheating? Then have children make
a second list of bad things they sometimes do. Have them compare their lists, and then discuss with them the meaning of sin.

Many years ago when I was working as a teacher in the county jail, I met Hugo in my Social Studies class. He was smart and good-looking, but he was arrested by the police for stealing cars. I tried to help him do well on his high school examinations so that he could be let out of jail for good behavior.

"It's no use," Hugo sighed one day. "I can't live straight."

"Why can't you?" I asked, surprised.

"Ma'am, I have no mama, no cash, no nothing," he replied. "Jail is my best home!"

1540 kids thursday"Do you know that Jesus could help you get rid of your sins?" I asked.

"Jesus? Who is this guy? Never heard of him!" Hugo snorted.

Each Sabbath my husband and I visited Hugo in the jail. We prayed with him, taught him songs about Jesus, and shared the story of Jesus with him.

After eight months of waiting, Hugo was finally released and was free to go home. All four of us teachers gave him good advice: "Goodbye, and be good." "Stay out of trouble!" "We are praying for you."

Early Monday morning I went to the jail again to teach. Guess who was in my class?

"Hugo! What are you doing here again?" I asked in disbelief.

"Well, I got out last Friday," he replied, "but I had no cash. So I just pointed a stick at the back of the cashier in a gas station and got all his dollars. That was smart, eh?"

Hugo was in and out of jail many times. Every time he got out, he was again mixed up in sin. He was all tangled up and just could not get himself loose. Sin is a terrible thing!

The Bible tells us that Satan "goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to eat" (1 Peter 5:8). He wants to get you hooked on sins. He whispers to you, "It's ok to take your friend's pen. He's got so many that he won't miss one." "Cheating a little is ok as long as you are not caught." "Shoot him if you want to get even with him."

Satan also tempted Jesus to sin when He had no food for 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness. He asked Jesus to change rocks into bread, jump off the top of the temple, and bow down to worship him. Each time, Jesus answered with a strong "No!"

Unfortunately, Adam and Eve did not say no to Satan. Instead, they chose to disobey God and do what Satan tempted them to do. As a result, they brought sin and death to themselves, to their children, and to everyone who was born after them.

God wanted to fix the horrible things Satan made happen to this world and to His children. So God sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross in our place. Because Jesus never sinned, He could die for the sins of everyone. It was not easy for Jesus to die such a cruel death, but it was the only way to get rid of sin forever. Don't you want to join forces with Jesus to get away from sin and from Satan?

Identify two or three of your weaknesses and pray to Jesus for help so that you can say no. Practice telling Satan, "Go away from me. It is written in the Bible . . ."

1. When our friends pressure us to do wrong, is it the same as Satan's temptation?
2. How would you overcome the temptations to be dishonest, to spread lies about your friend, or to hurt
3. Are the Ten Commandments good rules for avoiding sin, or are they old-fashioned?

With some black yarn, make a spider web on a cardboard base. Weave the web carefully. Then cut out some yellow ovals and write down the temptations many of you are facing. Glue them onto the web. Hang it on your desk to remind you each day to pray for Jesus' help to conquer these sins.

Daddy's Homecoming

Memory Gem
"Look, Jesus is coming with the clouds! Everyone will see him, even those who stabbed him. And all peoples of the earth will cry loudly because of him. Yes, this will happen! Amen" (Rev. 1:7).

Motivational Aid
Find a family photo album with pictures of your daddy. Pick out some photos of Daddy when he was young, when he got married to your mother, and when he was with you and your family. Ask, "How did you feel if your daddy ever had to be away a lot? Why is that so? What special things could you do to welcome him home?"

I really missed Daddy! It seemed he was gone for such a long time. My daddy went away very often because he worked on a huge ship. It could be as long as three whole months! Some-times he would call us on the phone when his ship docked at a port. That's when I would rush to the telephone to speak with him. "Daddy, daddy, when are you coming home? Did you get me that special train?" I asked hastily. You see, we had to take turns because mommy, big sister, and big brother all wanted to talk too. "But I'll be waiting for you, Daddy," I shouted excitedly before he hung up.

It was my ninth birthday, and this year Daddy would be coming home on my birthday! Can you imagine how thrilled I was? I simply couldn't fall asleep that night. My mind was full of ideas and imagination about what Daddy would bring home for my birthday present. I tossed and turned on my bed for a long time before I finally drifted off to sleep.

Early the next morning our entire household was buzzing with anticipation. "Mommy, I've cleaned up my room, and everything is spic and span," I said proudly. "Look, I even made a red-and-blue welcome-home card for Daddy. What do you think of it?" I beamed joyfully. I placed it carefully in the living room so he wouldn't miss it.

1540 kids fridayMommy was busy with the last-minute cooking, decorating, and baking so we could have a big welcome-home party for Daddy.

We checked eagerly with the ship's arrival schedule so that we could get to the dock just before his ship pulled in to the harbor. "Look for a red handkerchief," Mommy reminded. Oh yes! The red handkerchief that would help us identify our father. It would be almost impossible to spot anyone among hundreds of seamen all dressed in white uniforms. So the red handkerchief was our little sign!

Soon we saw red! The red cloth was moving vigorously. "There he is. Yes, that's Daddy up on the deck!" I shouted as I waved excitedly. "Daddy, Daddy!" I yelled. "Welcome home!"

One day just before He died, Jesus told His disciples that He would go away for a while. But He promised to come again. "I am going . . . to prepare a place for you. After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back. Then I will take you to be with me so that you may be where I am" (John 14:2, 3).

Jesus said, "The Lord himself will come down from heaven. There will be a loud command with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God" (1 Thess. 4:16). Isn't this a wonderful promise?

The disciples were very sad and heartbroken when Jesus died on the cross. But soon the crying stopped. When Jesus arose from the grave, they were filled with hope and excitement again. Later, when He was taken up to heaven, the disciples remembered what He had told them earlier. As they watched him going up into the sky, suddenly two angels stood beside them. They said, "Why are you standing here looking into the sky? You saw Jesus taken away from you into heaven. He will come back in the same way you saw him go" (Acts 1:11).

We can imagine the disciples saying excitedly to one another, "Let's tell everyone that Jesus is coming again! We want everyone in Jerusalem, Samaria, Judea, and the whole world to be ready for Jesus' homecoming."

But how would they do that? They studied the Bible a lot, prayed for the power of the Holy Spirit, and went out to teach others about Jesus. They also healed and helped.

But what signs should the disciples watch for before Jesus' homecoming? Jesus told the disciples that there would be wars and rumors of war, natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. There would be people who would pretend to be Jesus.

Are you seeing these signs today? What signs have already taken place? Yes, we see many wars happening in many countries. It's so heartbreaking to watch children and adults being killed in Iraq. It's so sad that many lost their houses during the hurricanes. Are you getting ready? Are we telling our friends to be ready for Jesus, too?

Make a list of things you can do to prepare for Jesus' homecoming. Can you join a Bible study group? Help the less fortunate? Clean house for some elderly neighbors? Invite your friends to attend children's retreats or Bible camps? Share your list with your Sabbath school teacher or pastor and tell them you want to volunteer to help in getting others ready.

1. How is preparing for your dad's homecoming similar to preparing for Jesus' homecoming?
2. How can your church help you prepare for Jesus' second coming?
3. How can you deal with the temptations of television, the Internet, and other mass media that distract you from being prepared?

Check with your teacher, pastor, or a children's hospital to learn whether anyone is coming home after recovery from sickness. Volunteer to help plan a welcoming party for the person. Create welcome cards for him or her. Write an interesting message and draw your best picture.

second sabbath

Three-legged Race

Memory Gem
"You are joined together with peace through the Spirit. Do all you can to continue together in this way. Let peace hold you together" (Eph. 4:3).

Motivational Aid
Divide children into groups of four or five. Provide them with poster-sized papers and markers. Ask each group to create a poster to advertise a forthcoming church or school event, a camp meeting, or a fund-raising project. When every group is finished, talk about how group effort is advantageous in producing a beautiful poster. Ask the children for feedback on how their group works together.

One of my favorite team games in school was the relay race. It was a game that required every team member to work together. Once again it was our annual Sports Day! My red team had been the overall champions for the past three years. We wanted to be sure that we could hold on to that trophy again this year.

The weather was beautiful on Sports Day. Our team was scheduled to be the fourth in line. Though we had practiced hard for several weeks now, our hearts were filled with some anxiety. Soon the sports master announced that our turn was next. All eight of us were in line, and this year we chose to play the three-legged race. At the sound of the gun we started.

"Hurry! Tie the cloth around our ankles!" Kim shouted.

"Don't move! I'm doing my best," I replied.

1540 kids sabbath2"Let's go!" we yelled together as we sped down the field.

We tried to support each other by making sure our two tied-up legs would run as one. Our return lap was just as speedy. As soon as we touched the next pair, they had to tie their legs together and race down the same track.

"Come on! Speed up!" We all yelled so loudly that I felt my lungs were going to burst.

As our last pair of teammates was approaching the finishing line, we ran up close to them to give them one last cheer. "Faster! Faster! That's it!" "You're almost there!"

Yes! Our red team had won again! We won because we worked together as a team. If each of us had run in our own way, we would have been very much divided.

Isn't it great to think of us as one body in God's family? No wonder the apostle Paul tells us that "we were all baptized into one body through one Spirit. And we were all made to share in the one Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:13). Yes, we share in caring for one another. Just imagine! One body with many parts, all working together!

After Jesus returned to heaven, His disciples and other believers joined together to share this wonderful news. "Yes, Jesus has risen!" they must have said to themselves. "He will come again! We can't keep this news to ourselves."

Paul went to Rome, Corinth, Philippi, Galatia, Ephesus, and other cities in Asia Minor to preach the good news of Jesus. Luke, Barnabas, John Mark, and Timothy accompanied Paul on some of his missionary journeys. Philip preached in the areas surrounding Jerusalem and was happy to have the opportunity to explain Isaiah 53 to the Ethiopian eunuch.

Yes, nothing could stop the disciples, Paul, and others from witnessing and testifying of the risen Savior! Their hearts were filled with joy and excitement to tell. That's how the Christian church was started: first in Jerusalem, then in Asia Minor, and in every part of the world.

Select two friends or relatives and invite them to attend a church program. Be excited about your Jesus. If they need transportation, ask your parents to help pick them up. You might give them a CD or cassette that contains Bible stories. Or you may lend them Bible story books that have this good news.

1. What would happen if a group of you tried to build a playhouse without planning together?
2. Is sharing the good news more effective as a group? What about witnessing alone?
3. If you are a good Christian and you go to church regularly, why isn't that enough? Is Jesus asking too much when He asks us to share the good news with others?

Keep a personal record of your close friends and relatives. Take time to invite each person to Sabbath school or any other church activities. After attending your church, what are their reactions? Pray for each name.

*All Scripture quotations in this article are taken from the International Children's Bible.

Linda Mei Lin Koh is the children's ministries director of the General Conference. She has served the church for more than 30 years as a college professor in Singapore and later in departmental work at the Southern Asia-Pacific Division. She has been actively involved in community work with children as well as writing for local magazines.