The effects of the educational mission are often muted, but heart-warming. A teacher gives an encouraging account of her pupils’ new-found understanding of what it means to walk with the Lord.
‘ONE of the most interesting and encouraging things in regard to the work of the year in the Singapore school is the stand so many of the boys have taken in regard to spiritual matters and a purpose in life.
This condition stands out in strong contrast with that of last year, when it seemed to be so difficult to get any response from the boys. Perhaps a few incidents might be of interest, and show how earnest and sincere these boys are.
One boy, who has no parents, lived with a guardian, who is teaching him the tailor’s trade, and how to care for the shop. For a while he did not come to the Sunday school, and when I asked him why he did not come, and told him how I missed him, he made an excuse and turned reluctantly away.
A few evenings later he stayed after school and said to me, “Miss, I must tell you why I cannot come to see you on Sunday; my master is very good to me, but he needs me in the shop, and I must stay and help him cut and make the clothes. All the time that I work I pray that I may go to you to learn about being good and doing right, and I want to ask, Miss, please will you pray for me too?”
I knew that Mr Sullivan was acquainted with the guardian, and I asked him to go to him with my request that the boy be allowed to come to Sunday school; the request was granted, and that boy’s happy face is the first one to smile at me every Sunday morning.
When I give the boys their homework English on Friday evening, I often ask them to write me something that they see or learn between that evening and Monday, that they may express their thoughts in their own words. One boy passed me his book, and this was his English lesson: “Dear teacher, all the week I have thought of our last Sunday school lesson, about the good tree and the bad tree, and the text you gave us to remember that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh; and will you pray for me that God will make me strong to live a good life and show good fruit, and keep me pure in heart.”
Another lesson was: “After Sunday school I went to see my friend. We talked of very serious things. I tried to explain to him how Christ came into the world to save sinners, and that we both could be saved. We talked a long time and we were very happy.”
Another little incident showed how one boy learned his lesson of right and wrong. This boy had been out of school for several days with fever, and the day after he came back we had a test in geography. I detected him copying answers from a paper. I tore up the paper he had written, and asked him to stand and repeat our motto. He stayed after school and rewrote the test, and then we talked about whether a good mark gained unfair means was worth the price paid in dishonesty.
When the day school closed, he came over from the other building to bid me goodbye, and he said this to me: “When I am tempted to do the wrong things, I think of the cruel thing I did that day, and how you told me if I was sorry God would forgive me and help me, and now I ask Him to keep me doing right so that my heart may never feel so sad again.”
One of my boys left the standard about the middle of the year. He has a position in North Borneo, and he has written to me of some of the trials he has, and how hard it is to keep good in his surroundings and live up to the ideals we pledged ourselves to work for. He has told me how much some of things learned in school have helped him in the hard places, and he wants me to pray for him every day that he may be true and strong. He closed his last letter like this, “God bless you, Miss, and make you more able to do good work.”
Many such incidents show plainly that the real things of life are beginning to take hold of the minds and hearts of the boys, and that they are really facing towards the right.’ — MM March 1914 p.52.
‘Many incidents show plainly that the real things of life are beginning to take hold of the minds and hearts of the boys, and that they are really facing towards the right.’
Earnest Lau, the Associate Editor of Methodist Message, is also the Archivist of The Methodist Church in Singapore.