13-The Mystery of Childhood

Highlighting Children in the Bible

Part 13: The Story of John the Baptist Baptist

1-Zecharia & angel

Elderly priest Zechariah was carefully tending to his duties in the temple, when an angel suddenly appeared beside him. Like us, he’d never seen an angel before, so he began to tremble with fright. The angel said to him, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah, I’ve come to tell you that your wife Elizabeth is going to have a baby and you must call him John.”

In barely a whisper Zechariah asked, “B-b-but how can this be? My wife Elizabeth and myself are old.”

The angel shook his head sadly, “I’m Gabriel, and I’ve been sent to bring you good news, but obviously you haven’t believed what I’ve told you, so you’re not going to be able to talk at all until this actually happens.”

3 Zech writes

Poor old Zechariah! When he came out to the people waiting on the other side of a heavy curtain, he couldn’t talk. All he could do was make signs with his hands.

Though Zechariah didn’t believe at first,  Elizabeth, deep down in her heart, did believe that what the angel said would really happen. Many years had passed since she’d started praying for a child of her own and now she was sure that God was about to answer her prayer even though it seemed impossible.”

As the days passed and Elizabeth’s tummy grew bigger and bigger, she knew that people would snicker and gossip about her, because old people don’t have babies. So she stayed home where she patiently waited and prayed for her special baby.

2-Nativ.John the happy

Finally the day came when her baby was born—a strong and healthy little boy—and eight days after the birth, Zechariah and Elizabeth took their baby to the temple where the name of the baby would be announced by another priest. In those days, it was the custom to have a feast—or a party— when the name was announced and when brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, and friends all came to hear the name announced and then to have a dinner afterwards. It was also common for a first-baby to be named after the father, so when the priest was about to call the baby “Zecharia,” both parents stopped him by shaking their heads. Zechariah then wrote on a tablet, “His name is John!” Now the priest and all the family and friends were shocked. There was no “John” in their family! But seeing Zechariah and Elizabeth’s firm faces, he announced it the way they wanted.

At that moment Zechariah was able to talk again, and now words from God came to his lips as he told how their son would preach good news and prepare people all around for their long-awaited Savior.

Some of the friends and family around them got all excited because they’d read and studied the old scrolls, that were parts of the Bible we have today, and knew that the Savior—or Messiah—might come soon, so this was wonderful news. Others, perhaps, laughed and shrugged their shoulders at the peculiar announcement.


After that, baby John grew to be a clever little boy who heard man stories read to him from the scrolls, and as he grew older, he liked to study outside where he could sit among the flowers and hear birds singing in the trees. There He also felt close to God whom He knew had created all that was around him. One day as he was reading a scroll some words caused him to think and wonder. “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way, but God hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:6 KJV). What could this mean?

Up till then the people around him offered sacrifices of innocent lambs to remind themselves that someday the Savior-Messiah would come and offer Himself as the perfect sacrifice for sins, and after that no other sacrifices would be needed. The more he read from the scrolls the more He realized that his cousin Jesus, who was born to Mary, had come for that very special purpose. This brought goose bumps over his whole body.


When he grew up John went away from his home and stayed near a river called Jordan, where he began to teach the people and to baptize them, or dunk them in the river to help them understand that they needed to have their sins washed away. In doing this he was preparing them or making them ready for Jesus.


Then one day as he was teaching the people and calling them to be sorry for their sins he saw Jesus coming toward him. He stopped a moment, and then raised his arm and pointed at Jesus as he said,  “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29 ESV).

10b-Jesus asks John-

When Jesus asked John to baptize Him, John at first refused. “I’m not worthy,” he said.

11-Jesus baptized

But Jesus insisted, so John obeyed, and while people stared in wonder, a dove came down from the sky and perched on Jesus’ head while  a voice from heaven said, “This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

For those of us who now live long after Jesus’ horrible death on the cross, baptism is a very special ceremony as it is a symbol or picture that helps us understand that Jesus took upon Himself all our sins when He died on the cross, and his blood washed them all away. Now we are free to live for Him who did so much for us.

Cross - Behold_the_Lamb_of_God_001

Later  John, who was called in the Bible the greatest man that ever lived, would be arrested and then killed by an evil king, Today we can be thankful for this man who teaches us so many important lessons from his own life and especially for his gracious words regarding Jesus, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Like John, we too can point others to Jesus and remind them that the blood of Jesus can wash their sins away too.

Here’s an old song that can help us remember all that Jesus has done for us:

“What can wash away my sins,

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Who can make me whole again,

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

O! precious is the flow,

That makes me white as snow.

No other fount I know,

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

To our Friends and Loved Ones

At the close of this year of our Lord, 2015

“Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me” (Psalm 66:16).

Challenge: Brussels Alert

This Christmas season struck the Mahars with a staggering impact as it coincided with the terrorist attack on Paris followed by an averted attempt upon Brussels where a number of our family members live and serve as missionaries. We are grateful toward our heavenly Father for averting the planned attack on Brussels, and for sparing lives there. We pray for the sorrowing of Paris, and that peace will continue.


Another challenge has been our health. For Frank some difficulties owing to his surgery, that took place this time last year, seem to have created some ongoing challenges, while for Joanne, a sinus surgery performed in June, unlike a previous one that healed within weeks, is this time in slow mode. Still, our rule is “No complaints allowed.” It’s perfectly normal for God to allow afflictions for our good. Soldiers of the cross must not have flabby muscles. The challenge is to “rejoice in the Lord always.”


A third challenge has been an enormous outlay of time spent on research and writing on the second book of Joanne’s ancient trilogy. Though it’s fiction, she has made every attempt to be as accurate as possible in the historical aspect, that covers some 300 years and includes the critical intertestamental period, when the Septuagint version of the Bible was translated into Greek, and the world was being prepared for Messiah. To make matters even more challenging is that the sources are limited and conflicting. Still, she’s plodding on and hopes to complete it in 2016.

Special Connection

Fairie-Anne Fritzel_2_2

Fairie-Ann Tyler daughter of Marcus Fritzel

A fourth challenge—or unexpected blessing—was connecting with the family of Marcus Fritzel—mentioned on page 100 of Shiny Shoes on Dusty Paths—who served as a devoted missionary in those early years when great risks were taken. In the case of Marcus, it meant a lonely grave in Africa’s interior caused by malaria. Left behind were a wife and a little girl. The connection came through Tami Masih, the grand daughter of Marcus Fritzel, who contacted Joanne on behalf of her mother Fairie Ann Tyley—the daughter Marcus Fritzel—who has been  trying to find her father’s gravesite for some time. Though that mystery remains unsolved, our fellowship with the family has been a highlight of the year.

Open Heart – to Congo’s Plight

The fifth challenge has been the giant step forward in the progress of the Open Heart effort in the vast country of Congo, that has involved an enormous outlay of energy, discipline, and total dependence upon God. Most of our family and friends are aware of the effort of Joanne’s brother Bud, to come to the aid of Christians who have barely survived the fires of persecution that struck the area that was opened to the Gospel by our parents, and where an ongoing rebellion has been ignored by the outside world.


This year we thought to share with you, our dear ones, some of the amazing break-throughs that have occurred this year in that land in spite of challenges that tested faith to the limit. With great joy and gratitude to our Savior, we share with you dear ones the astounding victories following the past summer’s efforts that we dare to believe will lead the way to a new awakening and thrust of the Gospel of our beloved Savior in that land.


At the same time we realize that most of the reports that were hurriedly recorded, in diary format, will seem meaningless without some background history.

Opening up the Congo


David Liviingstone

From the early 1800s—the era of David Livingstone and Stanley—who opened a path into central Africa for missionary endeavor—the challenges have been enormous. Both saw tragic misery that they attempted to alleviate.



Yet, though Stanley’s intentions in offering Congo to King Leopold of Belgium were noble, abuses occurred that were alas, disastrous. Still one must also realize that the Belgians provided benefits previously unheard of. These included employment, education, health-care etc. and opened the way for missionary endeavor, primarily Catholic but also Protestant.

Missionary Pioneers and Harsh Conditions

In modern accounts little is mentioned of the above, nor of the fearsome practices and manipulations of powerful witchdoctors, cannibalism, child sacrifices, the poison cup, chiseled teeth, abandonment of the elderly and many other cruel and fearsome practices that especially afflicted women. None tell of the frenzy of Satanic pressure that involved spells, demon possession; and the hopelessness and cruelty of a pagan society.

It was in the early 20th century that many missionary pioneers set out at the cost of enormous hardship and vulnerability, to take to Congo the knowledge of a Savior who came to the world to offer freedom from Satan’s oppression to all. Before leaving their homeland they were warned not to expect to return, yet, in spite of the graves that dotted the countryside, missionary activity blossomed even as late as our parents’ era (1930s -1950s). What the missionaries of that time did not know, however, is that they would have but thirty years to evangelize pagans, teach and train them, and then leave them to stand up against untold persecution. Joanne, a collector of missionary biographies, likes to compare the course of missions in China with that of Congo, alongside the “Acts of the Apostles” where amazing parallels stand out.

Springtime and Harvest

1950-07 Garages Matende 001a

Bud with his father at Matende

At that early springtime of missionary activity in the Congo, the primary sending countries were Sweden, Britain, Canada and America. It was an era of rich harvest when many drank in the living water of God’s Word and began to mature in their faith. Because it was governed by Belgium at that time, missions serving there had chosen representatives who interacted with Belgian officials regarding legal matters. Our Dad, as one of the appointees, endeavored to maintain friendly interaction with the officials, primarily for the purpose of interceding for justice, temperance, and in getting permits of various sorts. Also it is to the credit of the Belgians that the village chief still held considerable authority and many of the Congolese rose to high positions of influence and comfort. It has been suggested by many wise people, that Congo needed a little more time to be fully ready for independence, but that, of course, did not happen as impatient rebels were at the door.

Rebelion and Confusion

1962 Kinshasa Pierre Mulele

Pierre Mulele

 Matende station is one of several that our parents founded. Alas, one of the leading rebels of the 60s era, Pierre Mulele, a native of the region, who had trained in guerrilla warfare in China, collected a following of youth—and even children—that he fired up with a strange concoction of leftist dogma, African magic, a few guns, bows and arrows, intoxicating hemp, and armed with machetes, and matches, he let them loose to kill, burn and destroy at random homes churches, schools, hospitals and just about anything anywhere. At that early stage of the rebellion, mission stations became a primary target and the atrocities committed were horrendous. Many of the native residents were forced to flee from their villages to the cities—primarily the capital of Kinshasa—which then exploded with overpopulation.

Missionaries Evacuate

1964-02-03 evac Iwungu 1

At this crucial time some missionaries were martyred or had narrow escapes, while others were forced to evacuate. Many went back and forth with repeated evacuations, but ultimately were appointed to different countries, while the national Congolese Christians bore the brunt of the impact.

A Greedy World

For the most part, the media has ignored or misinterpreted accounts. Nations sat silent while millions of innocent people were slaughtered. Why? Because there was too much to gain on the part of political leaders and profiteers.

Congo: Rich yet Poor

It must be understood that in the course of all this, the most severe danger zone shifted from the west to the east where Congo’s richest assets lay hidden in her soil. Besides jewels, copper and gold, its primary asset is colton, a product that is used in our computers, cell phones and other gadgets. Profiteers and smugglers from across the border have taken advantage to force women and children to mine the precious products at the cost of horrendous and unspeakable abuse. While Congo remains one of the richest country in the world, as far as assets are concerned, it is one of the poorest in the world because its wealth is smuggled out of the country. Eastern Congo certainly needs our prayers. However, we’ve been pleased to notice that God is at work there too with tender concern, while the Church is re-blooming, though still fragile.

Concern and Curiosity

2010-03-16 Matende 137

For years Joanne’s brother, Bud, has sought to enter the Matende area but each time he tried, some unstable situation broke out that forbade his access. Meanwhile, since he was in contact with Christian workers in the capital, he was asked to be an observer for the first of Congo elections. Then in 2010 an opportunity—or rather unforeseen providence—opened its door and allowed him entrance.

2010-03-04 Kinshasa-Kikwit 023

To his great surprise he learned that the Chinese and the French had built a highway into the interior of Congo, and to top it off he discovered that Matende station was just a few kilometers from that main highway.

Soon after this he and his son-in-law, Olivier, made a special trip to Matende when they saw with their own eyes the unbelievable.


The home we once occupied was destroyed to the ground with hardly any evidence that it had ever existed, while the school and other buildings—including the church—2010-03-09 Matende 040were unrecognizable, though one third of the church survived…more or less.


Since then Bud has continued to make trips into the interior to assess the conditions of other mission stations where he found similar conditions, and especially a total lack of Bibles, which he took on as a special project. Then the most essential construction projects were initiated that included the church building itself.

Challenges to Face Head-On

This summer of 2015 Bud, along with two separate teams of volunteers, spent two months at Matende. Below is a list of some of the challenges that, with God’s favor, opened doors for unexpected victories. This year it entailed the re-building of the School or Training Center, and we will see how much more was accomplished than expected. Not surprising because “He is able to do far and above all we can ever ask or think.”

Delay of Visas

One problem was getting visas for the volunteers who hailed from Belgium, Germany and France, and who were experiencing complications because the regulations had changed. So, amidst frantic international communications involving connections with key people who had themselves connections to others of highest authority, the end result was that two visas arrived three days before departure and another one day before!

Transport of a Generator

Another last minute suspense was the generator that was too big for a suitcase and was awaiting the approval of the Brussels Airlines Humanitarian Program to give its permission to come separately and not in a suitace. It wasn’t until 10 PM of the night before the departure of the first team that the generator arrived at Bud’s home and was loaded in his van with the rest of the luggage that went on the plane.

Bible Gungu 2

200 Bibles for Waiting Hands

Two hundred Bibles had been ordered at the capital, but would they be available when they got there? In Congo, one must always expect surprises. They were indeed packed and ready for them to pick up and take into the interior. This alone would have made the trip worthwhile, and what a joy it was to give them to those who have never held one in their hands.

Bud-2010-03-09 Matende 008

Arrival at Matende

They arrived safely at Matende where they are greeted with much rejoicing and singing, and where a sense of anticipation hangs in the air.

Cell phones problem

At Matende they set up a solar panel but somehow the cell phones refused to work. You can imagine that when one is in the vast interior with iffy roads, a fussy truck, darkness so thick you feel you could cut it with a knife, all sorts of dangers seem to be lurking…  a cell phone is a most appreciated instrument. At one point collaborator David climbed a tree to try to catch some waves, only to be stung fifteen times by the critters occupying the tree that forced him to drop to the ground. Later they learned that a girl in the office of Vodacom convinced the engineer to adjust the transmitters.

Use of a Tractor

From the beginning of “Open Heart” the use of a tractor for agricultural purposes has been an on-going matter of prayer. This year a tractor is loaned to them just in time for tilling the soil before the rainy season

Truck Problems and Happy Surprises

2010-03-11 Gungu 041

While truck problems are ongoing, people along the way try to help and encourage them. At one occasion it seemed as if the truck was purring along, when all of a sudden the motor started to slow down and then suddenly halted just as they were arriving at a village called Banda Muntini. Since it was getting late they decided to spend the night there. To their surprise Christians from the village came out and insisted on giving them a warm welcome, and from their meager resources, they provided a room with mats on the ground to sleep on, and even shared what food they had which included mostly bananas and pineapples that that kept them fed for two days. Even the director of the school expressed thankfulness for having the opportunity to meet them. One can’t help but sense a touch of God’s providence in making “all things work together for good…” A mechanic from Kikwit came out to work on the truck but instisted on taking it back to Kikwit.

A Flat Tire, No Brakes, and Two Broken Axels

No sooner had the truck been fixed than it had to go out to rescue a trailer they’d purchased. With all the construction material needed to purchase, they ended up renting two trucks and soon found out that one had no breaks and the other had a flat tire—not uncommon considering the roads. Soon after there was a broken axel… that broke again… while time passed! Two weeks later they finally rolled into Matende at about 8;30 PM with all headlights piercing the darkness with blazing light. One couldn’t help but pray, “Oh may the light of our Lord Jesus shine into these villages and around the whole world.”

A doctor for the Medical Facility

Doctor 150921 Maladea Maten

For years prayers have been laid at the mercy seat for a Christian doctor, so one should not be surprised when the answer stands before you. It so happened that Bud encountered a doctor at nearby Kikwit while doing some errands. The doctor immediately showed interest in Matende’s Health Center. Could he be the answer to our prayers? The doctor by the name of Eleazar Kakesa—his first name meaning help of God—comes out to visit and the matter is settled. A doctor on site will particularly benefit children who are especially at risk.

2010-03-09 Matende 188

Two of them have died in the month and more are being cared for. One of the problems is that mothers must work in the fields during the day-time hours while an older sister of perhaps 5 or 6 years must care for ones smaller than themselves. Another problem is the pigs that run free as they too are potential disease carriers. Thankfully, the new doctor expects to teach prevention and sanitation to the Matende area.

Pig-2010-03-09 Matende 147

Top-notch Leaders and Helpers



Bud writes regarding David who led the young volunteers of the first group: “We thank God for the tremendous help that David gave during a whole month as he served and taught others many skills with a humble heart. Even more important the way he set an example of doing manual work as a service to the Lord. By the time David flew back to Belgium he’d given away every ounce of energy he had. All along he’d exercised enormous patience in dealing with intercultural matters, and he knew the names of all the 40 workers. Besides all that, he was a model coach and encourager.”



Bruno and his group flew into Kinshasa on a Saturday night and spent Sunday attending church and meeting key people. The following day they rented a jeep for the women while the men rode with the baggage in the back of the truck. He too combined in a humble way the practical and the spiritual. Each morning he led the devotions before explaining the activities planned for the day, and ending with a challenge in the style of Nehemiah—to get all hands involved. His contribution proved to be right on the mark.

Nelson—and his Mom

Nelson with tractor

Bud writes: “Nelson is a Congolese presently living and working in Germany, who served with a willing heart in many useful ways such as doing errands for supplies, buying and bargaining in four local languages, and also exemplifying how one can be a most useful missionary mechanic. It wouldn’t take much to get him to settle permanently at Matende. His Mom is here from Kinshasa helping by directing the kitchen during the three-day seminar. She remembers our family when we were small.” Upon the departure of the last team Nelson drove everyone back to Kinshasa. Bud was privileged to sit next to him in front while the others were piled in the back with the luggage for 16 hours. At the end his mother said good-bye to him with teary eyes.

Roselie and Simon

Group 2

Roselie, third from right, Simon, first on the left,

Roselie, third from the right, is Bud’s oldest daughter. As a missionary with “Young Life” in Belgium, Roselie  is trained and experienced in organizing camps for young people. Her talents have been an asset in a setting such as Matende.

Simon, Bud’s grandson—first on the left—is a seminary student at Vaux-sur Seine in the Paris area. Congo has challenged and changed him in many ways, to the point that he’s considering future involvement.

The team as a whole

Though out of their comfort zones, each one of each team cooperated with the task at hand and willingly gave their testimonies in services. We’ll remember them with gratitude and in our prayers.


40 Brave national workers

In previous visits the local believers seemed apprehensive about building etc. This time forty of varrying ages made themselves available. This in itself is a milestone and cause for thanksgiving. Day after day they worked cheerfully in groups or together under the guidance of their leaders.

The Training Center and it’s First Training Seminar


A spirit of eager anticipation prevailed as Bruno initiated the First Training Seminar that was to begin Monday morning through Wednesday.

Following, as it did, the construction of the large, square school house or training center with offices in the middle, was a horrendous task, and now it was time to celebrate and to challenge further conquests. People began to arrive already Sunday evening when they prayed for God’s blessing, and as the meetings started and progressed a joyful spirit prevailed. God answered by pouring down “showers of blessing.” Finally, with teary eyes they separated and returned to their little huts. To God be the glory.

Brave Return of  the Team to Europe


The truck took the team safely back to Kinshasa OK, though near the end some additional mechanical problems created some last challenges, causing the team to sit tight for fear of missing their plane. Oof! It was close! One thing is evident, and that is that they’ll never forget Congo..

Bud’s Summary of the two months: Far More Than Expected

We started out with one main project in mind — to rebuild the roof of the school, take off the asbestos ceiling and build doors and windows to prepare for the group arriving in August. But as we look back, we realize that God had plans for five other projects as well which all demanded time and finances: (1) repairs for the truck in Kikwit caused us to spend time in meeting people, discussing and learning, (2) meeting a young doctor who could come to Matende, (3) cleaning up and getting the Health Center into operation, (4) finally borrowing a tractor for Matende and (5) installation of water.

Prayer for America

In speaking with Bud recently by phone, he made the comment, “The American Church has abandoned Congo.” The statement struck like the blow of a hammer. In earlier days, while missionaries faced untold risks, churches stood as an army of prayer-warriors behind them. As Joanne’s Dad often said, when writing letters or upon returning to the homeland, ‘How good it is to ‘share the spoils of the battles’” (see 1 Samuel 30:24) meaning the sharing of spiritual victories won on foreign soil  with those in the homeland who have been diligently backing them with prayer. We can’t help from wondering if perhaps a time will come when the American church might need Congo?

The Cry of a Newborn Baby

An exiting thing happened as the workers were banging away at fixing up the Health Center, when the cry of a newborn baby rose in that crude little building. One can’t help but smile at the picture that reminds us of a similar situation that took place when our Savior condescended to be born in an equally humble situation. Here lay the King of kings and Lord of lords, yet He humbled Himself to become like us, to live with us, and to offer His life as a ransom for creatures such as us. With that reminder we can’t help but burst out in singing: “Joy to the World, the Lord has come, let earth receive her King.” What a boost this is to our confidence as we face the challenges of 2016.

With our love and prayers to all our family in the Lord,

Frank and Joanne Mahar


12-The Mystery of Childhood

Highlighting Children in the Bible

Part 12: The Birth and Childhood of Jesus

The Annunciation

1 Annunciation

The Bible tells us how Jesus left heaven to come to this world as a tiny baby. The story began when an angel, called Gabriel, appeared one day before a young girl whose name was Mary. Knowing how frightened she’d be at seeing an angel, his first words were, “Peace be with you! God has blessed you.”

In spite of the gentle voice and words,  Mary felt herself shaking because she’d never seen an angel before. “Don’t be afraid Mary,” the angel said, “I’ve come to tell you that you’re going to have a baby boy, and you must call Him Jesus. Also, your cousin Elizabeth is going to have a baby very soon, and he will prepare the way for son Jesus.”

Mary didn’t know what to say, but in her heart she knew that something special was about to happen. So she said softly, “Let it be done as you have told me.”

Mary visits Elizabeth

2 Mary-Meets-Elizabeth-by-William-Brassey-Hole-wikigallery.com-US-public-domain

When the angel left her, Mary wondered what she should do. After thinking for a while  she decided to go and visit her cousin Elizabeth who lived in Judea, an area which was about 80 miles away from Nazareth where she lived. In those days they didn’t have cars, buses or trains. Travelers went on foot or joined a caravan of travelers on camel.  Now why did she feel she think she had to see Elizabeth?  Because the angel had visited her too, so they could encourage one another, and also, Mary knew that her cousin was older and wiser than her.

At this time Mary was “promised,” to a man called Joseph, but they were not yet married. Joseph would not be the father of Jesus, but he was a good man who worked hard, and he would help Mary to protect Jesus while He was a child.

When Mary reached the home of her cousin, Elizabeth greeted her with amazing words that we find in the Bible, “How blessed you are Mary, because you have believed what the angel told you.” Mary stayed with Elizabeth and her husband Zecharia for quite a while and then returned to her home in Nazareth.


3 Bethlehem ,_from_southwest

At that time, just before Jesus was born, Israel was governed by a mighty kingdom called Rome, and the Emperor Augustus whole ruled over it, sent a message to all the people announcing that everyone had to return to the town where they came from and register, or write their names on a list there, so that the government would be sure that each family had paid their taxes. Since Joseph’s family came from Bethlehem they had to leave Nazareth where they lived and go all the way to the little town of Bethlehem that was in Judea. Mary knew that this would be even more tiring than when she went to see Elizabeth because her baby would be coming very soon.

4 Mary-Jos no rmWhen they finally reached Bethlehem, there was no room for them to stay in.

5 Mary & Baby JAll that could be offered to them was a stable for animals where Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God.

Mary took the precious baby and held him to her heart, and then she wrapped him in some special clothes and laid Him in a manger-bed.


6 Shepherds

That night, just outside the town of Bethlehem, there were shepherds watching over their sheep when an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terribly frightened. The Bible tells us that, “The, angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people. For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a mange. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!'” When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us” (NASB Luke 2:9-15).

7 Shepherds & nativity_RGB

Sure enough, when the shepherds reached the newborn baby, they knelt down and worshiped Him and my, how happy and excited they all were. They’d waited so long for the Messiah, and now He’d actually come—and they saw him with their own eyes. No wonder the angels had sung so happily. All of this was indeed “good news” to them and to the whole world.

It was hard to leave the precious baby, but their sheep needed them, so they hurried to their fields, though when they met people along the way, they just had to tell them what they’d seen. We don’t know what they said, but their excited voices and wide eyes must have made others excited too. Alas, though many were thrilled, others probably made fun of them by making rude remarks like, “What do you know about such things you ignorant fools?” But the shepherds paid no attention. They knew exactly what they heard and saw. Never would they forget it. And those special words that rang in their ears were later written down in God’s book, “Unto you is born in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11 ESV). How wonderful is that?

Baby Jesus Presented in the Temple

When they arrived they were met by a vey old man whose name was Simeon, who knew God’s Word well, because he studied it a lot. He knew that the prophets had announced a coming Messiah and he’d also been promised by God that he himself would not die before he got to see Him with his own eyes.

8 baby-jesus-in-the-temple

When Simeon saw Jesus, he took the baby in his arms and thanked God by saying words like “… You’ve kept your promise to me that I would see your Messiah who is a light to the world. Now I’ll be ready to leave this earth any time.”

9 Anna

The Bible also tells  us that in that beautiful temple in Jerusalem there was a dear old woman who had lost her husband many years before, who stayed in the temple to pray and worship God all the time. She too was sure that the Messiah would come soon, and when she saw the baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph, she knew that He had come at last. Now her heart was overflowing with joy. God had kept His promise to her as well.

Wise Men

11 Visit WiseMen

When things calmed down in Bethlehem some of the visitors left town, but Mary and Joseph decided to live there for a while. It was there that Jesus grew and began walking and was He ever cute. Everyone who saw Him loved Him and little children especially liked to play with Him.

When Jesus was almost two years old some important people called wise men came from a far country to see Him. All along the way they’d followed a special star that led them to the house where Jesus was, and there—at last—they found Him. With happy and thankful hearts they knelt before Him and gave Him beautiful presents. All along they’d known He was their king and long-awaited Savior. How did they know? Because, as wise men do, they’d studied a lot of books and especially God’s book that told that He would come.

Twelve-Year-Old Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem

13 Jesus in Temple

As a Jewish boy Jesus began school with his mother as his teacher, and when he was five he went to a synagogue where teachers called rabbis taught Him to read and to write on papyrus scrolls and to learn about God’s Law. When He was ten years old he probably went to another school where he learned the Hebrew language and memorized large parts of God’s Word and other writings. At that age he also had to learn the Greek and Hebrew language.

14 Jesus & fatherJesus and Joseph

At this time Jesus helped Joseph who was a carpenter and perhaps a builder as well. No doubt he recited to him parts of God’s Word that He’d learned by heart, 12 feast dayand when he reached twelve he could go with his parents to the feast of Passover, which was the most important of the three feasts that were celebrated each year in Jerusalem.


How happy he must have been when he, along with many other people, walked up the hill to Mount Zion, singing or reciting out loud passages that were precious to them all. By this time Jesus was twelve years old and understood many things that most children today don’t think about. He knew that at the feast of Passover a perfect lamb would be slain and laid on the altar of sacrifice. Why? To take away the sins of all who had done wrong things and were sorry. He also knew that soon, God’s perfect and final sacrifice would be made! As He looked a long time at that altar of sacrifice where a bleeding lamb lay, He knew that He himself would become that perfect sacrifice. Why? Because He had never sinned and God had sent Him to this world to become that Perfect Sacrifice for you and me.

Jesus Says Strange Words

He thought about all these things as he stood in the temple and talked with all kinds of people, and especially those who had studied about these matters, so he didn’t notice when His parents started home with the rest of the travelers from Nazareth.

It wasn’t until they’d gone a long distance before they realized that Jesus was not with them. Where could He be?

16 Jesus in temple

All they could do was to return to Jerusalem where they looked all over the city of Jerusalem and then, where do you suppose they found Him? In the temple court, of course, where important teachers liked to discuss difficult questions. There He was asking these teachers questions that shocked them because children don’t usually know such deep matters.

His parents at first scolded Him by telling Him how anxious they’d been over him, but Jesus answered, “Didn’t you know that I must be about my father’s business?”

The words shocked His parents because they now realized that Jesus was entering a time when His lifework was beginning. Jesus, of course, continued to obey his mother and his adoptive father, but already He was thinking deep thoughts about God—His heavenly Father—who had sent him into the world to save us all.


11-The Mystery of Childhood

Children in the Bible

Part 11: Daniel and his friends

1 Captives on way to Jerusalem -also dore-jordan-580x333

Daniel, along with other captive children, had been walking all day long in the heat of the desert, and they were all getting very tired, hungry and thirsty. Most, like Daniel, were hurting inside because each step they’d walked took them further and further away from their dear families back in Jerusalem. Even now, they felt that surely it had to be a bad dream and that they’d all wake up and find themselves back with their families in Jerusalem. Alas, nothing changed.
2 Jeremiah preaching

How could this have happened? Over and over Daniel and his young friends kept asking each other that same question, yet how well they remembered the warnings of the prophet Jeremiah who’d pleaded, often with tears, as he warned the people in Jerusalem to change their ways because God was not happy with the way they’d turned away from Him to serve idols. But the people all around laughed and tried to hurt him and even kill him.

Since they refused to listen and change their ways, God let them be conquered by another nation called Babylon. But before that happened the Babylonians had come to Jerusalem and had taken young boys from their families as captives. Now the poor boys wondered what might happen to them.

It took a long time for the captives to walk the five hundred miles from Jerusalem to Babylon, and Oh! How their feet ached as they marched on and on with their eyes looking down.

3 babylon City

When they neared the great city of Babylon, Daniel and his friends blinked and rubbed their eyes while wondering if they were seeing straight. What a magnificent city it was with big streets, high tower and beautiful gardens.

4 Gate of Babylon

As they came close they found themselves approaching a high wall that  stood like a an enormous Gate with high walls that towered far above them. How little they felt when they looked up at it. These walls were decorated with colored bricks to make them look as if mean lions were really roaring down at them.

5 Hanging Gardens

Once inside the city their eyes caught a glimpse of a mountain-like palace with hanging plants and flowers that waved in the wind. What a strange place they thought, and what was going to happen to them now?

Afraid as they were, they bit their lips and determined that they would remain faithful to their God, no matter what. Later, when their names were changed to Babylonian names, they knew that they were supposed to forget their family and friends back home, and especially their God. Instead they made up their minds that they would never do that.

6 Boys refuse food

Soon the young boys found that Babylon was a comfortable place to live in, and that they were actually favored by being taught by the best teachers in all the land. These teachers, in turn,  soon found out that the young fellows before them were exceptionally clever, even in hard subjects like math and science. When it came to food, Daniel and his friends could tell that it was very different from the kind that their parents had always given them. Here they could tell that the fancy food served on golden platters was far too much and not at all healthy for them. Besides that, their own laws from back home forbade such foods. So they decided they would not eat it. But when their teachers and helpers saw what they were doing, they were not pleased because the king had ordered their food. “You’ll get us in trouble if the king finds you unhealthy and he’ll blame us,” they said.

“Please,” Daniel said, “Just let us try and you’ll see how healthy we’ll be.”


Besides the food, they saw drinks with alcohol mixed in, and remembered that their parents had never let them have strong drinks because they too, were not good for them as they made their minds become blurry. So Daniel and his friends asked if they could drink water or juice instead.

Their teachers were afraid to disobey the king’s orders, but finally they agreed to let them have the kind of food and drinks they wanted, until the time when they would meet the king. If he was pleased with them, they would continue giving them the food they wanted. But if they were groggy, slow to think and move, they would have to eat what the King had ordered for them.

8 Boys report to King

So what happened then? Their teachers and the King Nebuchadnezzar himself found that these foreign students were sharp in their studies and were far more healthy than all the others.

As time went on, the boys from Jerusalem grew up and did their work so well that they got some of the best jobs in the city. Daniel especially kept rising higher and higher in the government of Babylon and was able to help his friends to find good jobs too.

9 Enemies

Alas, as time went on, and Daniel was getting old, some of the Babylonians that had perhaps studied with them, or had important jobs too, were jealous of him and they decided to try to find a way to get him in trouble and even killed. So they thought and thought, and finally one day they realized that 10 Daniel_Praying_1343-857Daniel was praying three times a day, before his window that faced Jerusalem, just as he’d done all along.

“I have an idea one of the scheming fellows said. We all know that our king is proud and thinks of himself as a god, so why don’t we suggest to the king that if anyone prays to another god other than the king himself, should be thrown into the lion’s den?

11 King's Advisors-answer-2nd-time-for-D2-blog-post

His buddies agreed that it was an excellent idea, and so they went to the king and made their suggestion.

The king smiled and nodded his head. He liked to think of himself as important, and even as a god. So what do you think he said? “Of course, what a good idea. I will make a decree or order that will be signed by my name.”

So the decree was made, and what do you think Daniel did? He continued just like always to pray before his window that faced Jerusalem, and the watching tricksters saw him.

So they went to the king and told him what Daniel was doing. The king was sad when he heard that, because he liked and appreciated Daniel very much, but he couldn’t change the decree. So, as the sun was setting, Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den.

12 Daniel LionsDen

13 King can't sleep

That night the king couldn’t eat or sleep because he was worried about Daniel. Very early the next morning he got up and went to the lion’s den and called to Daniel saying, “Daniel, are you there? Has your God protected you?”

14 Daniel lions_den_1

Daniel answered, “My God sent his angel, O King,  and He shut the lion’s mouth.”

The king immediately ordered that Daniel be brought up, and that the evil men who had tried to get rid of him were punished by being thrown into the lion’s den in the place of Daniel.

Later Daniel had many wonderful dreams when God told him about his plans for the future of the world and about His Kingdom. Daniel carefully wrote down all he saw and heard in his dreams. His writing of them is now in a book of the Bible that is called, “The Book of Daniel.”

We are thankful for Daniel because he was a good example for us all, and because he wrote many things that help us to understand how great and wonderful God is.


10-The Mystery of Childhood

Children in the Bible

Part 9: The Boy King Josiah

1 Joash becomes king

Eight-year-old Josiah was rubbing his sleepy eyes one morning when important people rushed into his room. The oldest of them bowed before him and said with a shaky voice, “The King Amon, your father has been killed this night so you, Prince Josiah, will be made king. He pointed to a servant whose arms were piled high with all kinds of magnificent clothes and said, “We’ve got to get you dressed immediately for the special ceremony.”

Josiah got up quickly and trembled all over as he let the servants dress him in long silk robes. How could this be? he kept asking them, but there was no time to answer his questions. His hair had to be combed just right and very soon he was taken before a group of people where another cloak was laid over his shoulders and a crown placed on his head while the people shouted, “Long live King Josiah.”

2 king-josiah-started-reigning-at-age-8Of course young Josiah had to learn how to be a king, so his mother along with some good men taught him day by day as they helped him rule.

The Bible tells us that he did what was right and that he became a good king, like the great King David who ruled long before him.

His teachers also told him about the temple and how they used to worship God but sadly, it was now forgotten and falling apart. Why, because the people didn’t care about God. They’d wanted rather to worship the false gods of the people around them.

3 Josiah -grown upAs Josiah grew to be a young man he went to see the old temple and what he saw made him feel sick in his tummy. Walls were broken down and idols were laying on the ground along with all kinds of junk. He couldn’t help saying, “What is this?” as he shook his head in disgust.

So he called Shaphan, his secretary, to come and help him plan and find people who would be willing to fix up the temple and make it beautiful like it was before.

Nehemiah Rebuilding the Walls of Jerusalem Nehemiah 4:16-18

While this was being done some workers found an old scroll. A scroll was like a rolled up paper with writing on it. There was so much junk around that they wondered if it was something important or just more junk, so they showed the scroll to the high priest Hilkiah, who looked at it carefully, and then he got all excited. “This is very important,” he said. “What we have here is the book of the law of God that we lost. I’m going to show it immediately to Shaphan, the king’s secretary.”

6 Josiah shows scroll to Shaphan

When Shaphan saw it, he too opened his eyes wide with surprise. He stood up and said, “I’m going to show this scroll to the king immediately.” So off he went.

7 josiah_w_bk_of_the_law

When Shaphan reached King Josiah he showed him the scroll, and he too got excited.  He leaned forward on his throne and said, “Please read it out loud for me.”

So Shaphan read to the king, and as he did, the King got so very upset that he tore some of his clothes to show how anxious  he felt.“If only we’d had that old scroll in our hands long ago,” he said as he shook his head with deep sadness. “Of only we’d obeyed it’s warnings. We’ve got to take the message of this scroll very seriously and correct everything we’ve done wrong, because by now God must be very displeased with us. I want you to call the people to come immediately to the temple so that they too can hear God’s Word, and then decide how to make things right.

8 Reading to people

When the people came to the temple King Josiah himself read from the scroll about God’s commands not to worship idols—as they were doing—along with other bad things as well.

As they listened many got very scared. “We’re in big trouble,” they said one to another. We’re guilty because we’ve done the opposite of what God requires. We’ve got to destroy those idols right away.

So King Josiah invited the people to make a covenant or promise to God to obey His Word. Among the people there was the prophet Jeremiah who was pleased at all the king was doing, but there were also others who didn’t care. All they wanted was to be rich and popular, and to do whatever they wanted to.

King Josiah cleansing the land of idols

Still, Josiah and those who knew God, went out  and began to throw down and smash the smaller idols, and then they tore down the big statues. When all was done they bowed before God and confessed their sins, and He forgave them and did not give them the punishment they deserved.

King Josiah ruled over the kingdom of Judah for thirty-one years, and the Bible tells us that he was one of the best kings of all. Alas, after thirty-ones years of being king, he died in a war. At that time the prophet Jeremiah wept a long time because he knew that the good times for Jerusalem and all Judah were over. The people would once more worship their idols, yet God would continue to help the good people to take good care of His precious Word.

11 isaiah-scroll

How thankful we can be that the workmen  found and kept that old scroll.

12 Bible

Many, years went by as God told other men to write down more words that He wanted His people to know. After that many more years passed and God’s Holy Word, instead of being a scroll, became a book. Because God lovingly gave it to us, it became known as THE HOLY BIBLE. In it He tells us of His love and all that will help us to learn about Him, and to  love and serve Him.


9-The Mystery of Childhood

Highlighting Children of the Bible

Part 9: Manasseh

2-Isaiah visits Manasseh

Manasseh was born to good King Hezekiah who loved him and taught him about the true God.

Alas, when the young prince was only twelve years old, his Dad died and he suddenly became the new king.

At this time strange things were happening. Some were good, others were very bad. The good happening was that the wise prophets often visited the  palace with messages from God—especially the great prophet Isaiah.

3-Idolatry era Manasseh

The bad thing was that young king Manasseh, instead of following the warnings and the good advice of the prophets, would just laugh at them. He just turned his back and instead of taking their wise advice, he listened to the evil and selfish men who brought in the popular and false gods of other nations such as Baal and Asherah. Besides that they bowed to the sun, moon, and stars and played around with all kinds of crazy ideas like magic and witchcraft.


When Manasseh grew up he became cruel and mean, especially toward God’s people.

5-Manasseh taken to Babylon

Thing kept getting worse and worse, and then all that the prophets had warned him about began to happen. Soldiers of another kingdom called Assyria showed up with a vast army. They captured Manasseh, bound him with heavy chains and took him to far off Babylon where he was put in prison.

6-King Manasseh Prison

There Manasseh began to realize how very much he had offended the true God by all his mean and wicked actions and he was very sorry.

God heard his prayer and answered by forgiving him and soon he was freed from the awful prison. Soon he was back in the land of Judah where he would reign once more. There he tried very hard to correct the wrong things he’d done. He took away the idols and tried to stop the evil and discusting things people were doing, but the people paid little attention. He learned that though God had forgiven his sin, others were not always willing to follow his advice nor his example. They thought it was fun to do evil. It made Manasseh sad to see that the people paid little attention to his words. If only he’d done things right from the beginning when he was a young boy!

Boys and girls need to understand that Satan does not love us. He doesn’t care if we’re happy or sad. He lies to us and tries to bully us to do wrong things. Then he laughs with glee when we’re hurt by the wrong things we’ve done.

7-three-empty-crosses-sunset-211x300Let us remember that God loves us so much that he took the awful punishment for our sins, so that when we’re sorry—like King Mansseh—He forgives us. But even better than that, He wants us to give ourselves to Him so that He can keep us out of the many troubles and sad things that sin causes. If we turn to him when we’re young and obey Him and follow his commandments, we won’t have the regrets that Manasseh had. Besides that, we know for sure that someday we’ll live with Him forever in a place where there is no sin, sickness, sadness or death.


8-The Mystery of Childhood

Highlighting Children in the Bible

Part 8: The Little Prince Joash

Little Prince Joash was born at a time when troubling things were happening in the land of Israel. When he was a still a tiny baby his Dad, the King Ahaziah, died suddenly, and now his wicked grandmother, Athalia, ordered that all the royal children be killed. Why did she do that? Because she wanted them all out of the way so that she could be the queen.

But what the wicked queen didn’t know, was that a brave woman named Jehosheba, who was the wife of the High Priest Jehoida, had managed to rescue and hide in a room of the temple, one of the princes who was still a baby. This little prince, of course, was Joash.

This was a scary time for Jehosheba, Jehoida, and the little Joash, because if anyone found out and told the wicked queen what they were doing, it would be the end of all three of them. Well, it didn’t happen because God helped Jehosheba and her husband to protect and care for the child till he was six years old. In that time, they also taught him carefully about God and His Word.

Meanwhile the wicked queen got more and more people to worship idols instead of the one true God, and she also made all kinds of trouble in the land. Some were happy to obey her evil wishes, while many prayed to God, asking Him to save them and their nation.

king_joash__image_3 Chr im. source_sjpg2215

Now when the little Prince Joash was about to celebrate his seventh birthday he was happy—like most of us are our birthdays are almost due—while Priest Jehoida and his wife Jehoshea worried. They knew that keeping the young prince safe was becoming more and more dangerous. So Jehoida secretly called together all the important captains, and soldiers, and bodyguards to the temple and brought before them the young Prince Joash. What a shock this was to the big crowd of people who had come together. Never could they have imagined that a young prince of the family of the great King David was still alive, and now, as he stood before them they began to clap, to laugh and to shout with joy and relief. But Priest Jehoida raised his hands for silence as he explained that they must all cooperate to save their young king’s life. So the crowd became quiet as they listened carefully to the instructions given to them to take their weapons and to stand ready to defend young Joash. Then as Priest Jehoida placed the crown upon the head of young Joash, the temple trumpeters blasted off while the people clapped and shouted and stomped their feat as they shouted, “God save King Joash.”

“Imagine,” the people said to one another, “we thought there was no hope for our country and now we have before us the rightful king of David’s line!”


But by then, the wicked Queen Athalia, who had heard the noise and happy cheers, was running toward to the crowd to find out what was happening. When she reached the temple area she saw with her own eyes the little prince with a crown upon his head. “Treason, Treason! Down with him” she screamed.

This time, to her amazement, no one obeyed her. A band of soldiers dutifully protected their new king while others took the queen away.

Joash repairs temple

Little King Joash reigned faithfully while the wise Priest Jehoida instructed him. Now that they had a good king they all noticed that the neglected temple needed repairs, so they decided together  to collect money to fix it up to make it look like new. So a chest was put out and people came willingly with their gifts of money or of gold or silver or whatever they had that was valuable. In fact, they brought so much that King Joash had to tell them to stop because they had more than enough to complete all the work. After that masons, carpenters, and skilled artists worked hard to repair and make the temple beautiful once again. When all the work was done the people joyfully came together to pray, to thank, and to worship God for saving them from the wicked queen, while they also agreed together to love, honor and to be faithful to Him.


7-The Mystery of Childhood


Part 7: The Little Captive Girl

A Servant Girl Tells Naaman's Wife About the Prophet II KIngs 5:2-3

A Servant Girl Tells Naaman’s Wife About the Prophet II KIngs 5:2-3

A long, long time ago there lived in a land called Syria, an important captain named Naaman, who had bravely fought many battles for his king and his country. But the captain now faced a difficult problem. He had caught a miserable sickness called leprosy that caused horrible sores to break out on his body, and no doctor could help him get well.

At this time there was in the home of Naaman, a little girl whose name is not mentioned in the Bible. All we know is that she’d been taken as a captive by soldiers of Syria when they were fighting wars in her own land of Israel, and that the captain had brought her to his home to be a servant for his wife.

Now this little girl had been very scared, when she was snatched from her parents, whom she loved so much, and taken to far-away Syria. She’d been homesick for her Mom and Dad and terribly sad, but she remembered all that they’d taught her about God, who loved her and cared about her. They also taught her to forgive her enemies and to be kind toward them, even when they were unkind toward her.

It was hard at first, but as she did her work well and was thoughtful and polite, they in turn tried hard to make her happy.

2 Maid & wife

One day as she came to bring food to her mistress, she found her crying. Gently she put the tray on the table and asked, “Can I help somehow, my lady.”

Her mistress looked into the gentle eyes of her little maid and realized that she truly did care, so she said, “My husband, Naaman your master, is sick with a terrible illness called leprosy and there’s no one and no medicine that can help him get well.”

The little maid now felt sad too. Then she remembered that in her country there was a prophet, called Elisha, who sometimes helped people to get well—with God’s help. So she told her mistress about him and said gently, “I know he could help my master.”

Her mistress stopped crying. “Are you sure?”

The little maid nodded her head. “I’m very sure.”

“Well, I’m going to tell my husband right now,” she said and off she went.

2B Naaman

Later her master himself said to her, “Thank you for telling us about Elisha the prophet. Now I want you to know that I’ve decided  to go to him as soon as I can.”

“O good,” the little girl said as she clasped her hands tightly together. “I know that our God, will heal my master.”

Naaman goes to Israel for healing from leprosy II KIngs 5:5

Naaman goes to Israel for healing from leprosy II KIngs 5:5

So when Naaman left, the little maid said to herself, It would be so wonderful if he could come to know our God who is powerful. His gods are but idols. They’re worthless and scary.

When Naaman and his soldiers arrived at the home of Elisha he went to the door and knocked.

It was Elisha’s servant who answered the door and told Naaman, “My master Elisha says you must go to the River Jordan, and there you must dip yourself seven times.”


Upon hearing this, Commander Naaman was furious. He was, first of all, not at all pleased that the prophet had sent his servant to the door instead of coming himself. After all, he was a great war hero. And why should he dip himself into that filthy river when there were cleaner ones back in his own country?  He turned around and stomped his feet as he ordered his soldiers to mount their horses and get him back to Syria.

“But Master,” one of the soldiers near him said, ” should you not rather obey what the prophet ordered?”

Proud Naaman stomped his fee and said, “Bah, if he’s a prophet he could have just said some magic words that would have instantly made me well?”


Again his soldier insisted. “You could at least obey what the prophet said,” while another waiting a little ways behind said, “Please, Master Naaman, do as he said.” Then another added, “If he’d asked you to do something difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? What he asks you to do seems strange and stupid, but what if it should work after all?”

“Why should I dip myself in that filthy river?”

The soldiers together now shouted together, “Please try Master.”

“Oh, all right,” the Commander said. “Let’s go and get it over with.”

4-River Jordan

So they went to the Jordan River where they found a surprisingly beautiful spot where he could easily walk down a sandy beach and into the river that wasn’t so dirty after all. There the captain, encouraged by his soldiers, stomped into the river and dipped himself once, then again, and again. There was no change. He sill had those awful spots. He dipped the fourth, fifth, and sixth time, still nothing happened!

6-naaman bathing1

“Once more,” the soldiers shouted with excited voices.” And so he held his nose and dipped one last time. This time he stared at his hands, his arms, his chest. He felt his face.  Why, of all things, his entire body was as smooth as that of a young man.


He looked up with amazement and shouted, “I’m healed.” Then he started jumping up and down and waving his arms as he ran toward the shore. “Look at me” he shouted. “I’m healed!”

9 images-4

Before returning to his homeland Naaman went once more to Elisha’s house to thank him, and to pay him for helping him. This time it was Elijah himself who came to the door, and when Naaman offered him money and presents, Elijah shook his head and said, “No Captain Naaman, I will take nothing. It was not me who healed you but God, and He doesn’t need your money. Money does not buy God’s love and favor.”

Naaman was shocked. “He doesn’t want my money?” He still didn’t realize that money cannot buy God’s help. Nor does money wash away our sins. What God wants most of all is for us to believe, to trust and to obey Him.


When Naaman and his soldiers got back to his home in Syria, his family, friends and lots of other soldiers were there to greet him and to celebrate his healing. The little maid didn’t know what she should do, since she was only a maid, so she stayed behind the crowd that began to clap and cheer and party. Then, suddenly, the Captain noticed her standing all by herself with tears in her eyes. He nudged his wife and both of them went to her. Then Naaman took her hands into his and said, “We’ve watched you and seen how sweet and helpful you’ve been even though you were far from your loved ones and country. We want to thank for that and also for telling us about the prophet Elisha. Now look at me? I’m healed, and it’s because of you.”

“No, Master Naaman,” the little maid said with a big smile, “it was God who healed you. I’m just His little helper.”

“Indeed you are, little one, and we are grateful for you—and because of you—we have discovered that your God is truly the only true God.”

The little maid clapped her hands with joy, as she said, “I’m so glad,” while in her heart she thanked God for healing her Master and for helping her to live for Him in that foreign land.



6-The Mystery of Childhood


Part 6: The Widow’s Son

There’s a story of a little boy in the Bible who is not named. All we know is that his Mom was a widow—meaning that her husband had died.


In that time, things were not going well because wicked Ahab had become king, and he and Queen Jezebel were greedy and mean while making the people disobey God and pray to idols.

There was also at that time a prophet of the true God, whose name was Elijah. A prophet is one who receives messages from God that he must tell either to one person or to a group of people. This time he had to tell it to King Ahab himself!

The King sighed as he looked at the prophet Elijah standing  before him wearing, as usual, a coat of animal skins and a wide belt around his waste. What a weird man, he thought to himself, and how I hate him because he always tells the truth. He and Queen Jezebel paid no attention to the truth and no one dared to tell them the exact truth because they were afraid to make them angry.

Elijah bravely told the prophecy,“I have been sent by God to inform you that there will be no rain for a very long time.’”

Ahab certainly wasn’t in a mood to hear this kind of a message. He set his lips hard and with glaring eyes he said, “So what you’re saying to me is that there will be a famine.” Both of them knew very well that a famine happens when there is not enough rain to grow food.

elijah being fed by raven

Elijah nodded and hurried off, running as fast as he could to the countryside. There he came to a calm and beautiful little stream where the water was clean and cool. How good it felt to drink all he wanted, and to rest on the fresh, soft grass after running such a long ways. Then, he realized that he was getting hungry. Where was he going to find food? Just then he saw birds fluttering  over him who swooped closer and closer and then dropped delicious food into his hands. O how delicious it was and it was enough to fill his stomach.

Now he realized that God had led him to a safe and lovely little spot where he could stay away from the town where there would be little if any food and where a king and queen were seeking to kill him. So he settled down and made himself comfortable. He didn’t need to worry because he knew that God was caring for him.  Sure enough, the next day the birds were back with the most tasty ousels in their beaks, and they kept coming every day with food.


Days, weeks, and months passed without a drop of rain. It got so bad that even the little brook stopped flowing with water and Elijah wondered what he should do. God told him to go to a place called Zarephath where a widow—meaning a woman whose husband had died—would help him.

So Elijah obeyed and went to Zarephath, no doubt wondering how he would recognize the widow. Well, he didn’t have to worry much longer because as he was nearing the city, he saw a poor woman gathering sticks and he thought, I wonder if she might be the widow, but should I bother her? She looks so weak and tired. Then he changed his mind and decided it wouldn’t hurt to at least ask. So he went to her and said politely, “I wonder if perhaps you might provide me with some food as I’m hungry and have none.”

The widow didn’t even dare to look up at him. “I’m sorry that you’re hungry, but I only have enough food for one more meal for my son and myself. I’ve come out here to gather sticks so that I can make a fire and cook one last meal. After that we’ll just have to wait to die.”

Elijah looked into her eyes and said, “Would you please give me just a little piece of bread first?”

The widow looked up at Elijah for a long moment, and in that minute she knew in her heart that he was a man of God— or a prophet. She also knew that God was testing her, to see if she would show kindness to a stranger. So she looked up at the prophet, nodded her head and said, “We’ll share what we have.”


Gratefully Elijah followed her to her home where a room on the roof was offered to him. Then the widow went to her kitchen and made a nice little loaf of bread for him, and as she was about to close the empty jar, she noticed that some flour was left over. That’s strange, she thought, I felt my fingers scraping the bottom of the jar, and here I find enough for another loaf! So she made another loaf for her son and herself. The next day the same thing happened, and the next after that and on and on it went. It seemed like a joke, yet her jar always had just enough for another loaf. By then both she and Elijah understood that God was providing for all three of them.

One day, however, the widow’s little son got very sick, and then suddenly, he died. His mother was so upset she just wanted to die herself, but when Elijah heard about it he went and picked up the little boy and brought him to his own room and laid him on his own bed. There he leaned over the child and prayed to God, asking Him to heal the boy who was all the family the widow had left. Then he noticed a flutter of the boy’s eye-lids that soon opened wide. The child now smiled and reached out his arms to the prophet who picked him up carried him downstairs to his Mom. “Oh thank you, thank you man of God, she said as tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy.

“Don’t thank me,” Elijah said, “Thank God.”

“Oh I do, I do,” she said.

“God has rewarded you for your faith and trust in Him, Elijah said. You proved it by helping me when you had so little.“

“Yes,”  the Mom said, as her son hugged Elijah, “God is so good.”


5-The Mystery of Childhood


Part 5: David


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Remember the story of Samuel and how he grew to be a great leader. He didn’t sit on a throne or wear a crown as most kings do, but he was a ruler and teacher for the people of God. He was also called a prophet because he was given special messages from God.

All was going well, but when he got old the people decided they wanted a real king like all the other nations around them. They wanted someone who could go to war and help them fight their enemies.

Samuel was sad about this because God was to be their king, and besides kings cost lots and lots of money, and sometimes they were not honorable and just in the way they lived or ruled. Samuel was worried, but God told him, “You might as well let the people have their way. They’ve made up their minds, and besides, through their mistakes they’ll learn some important lessons.”

So the people chose a handsome young man named Saul, and sure enough, it wasn’t long before he began to mess things up horribly by not obeying God. So God told Samuel to go to a family in Bethlehem and He would help him choose another king there. “This King, he said, will be ‘a man after my own heart,'” meaning he would love God, listen to Him, and also obey Him.

When Samuel reached the little town of Bethlehem a feast or party was going on at the home of a leader of the town called Jesse who was the father of seven sons. As they visited Samuel explained that God had sent him to anoint one of his sons as the future king.  So the sons were called together, and as each one passed before him, Samuel couldn’t help but notice good qualities in each one. For example, one might have been friendly, another handsome, another helpful and so on it went until Samuel had seen six of them. Strangely God kept silence and did not indicate in any way that one of them was to be anointed king. Samuel was confused and shook his friend. Are these all the sons you have?” he asked Saul.

“Well, the seventh is just a boy and  he’s out taking care of the sheep.”

“Would you please have him come in?” Samuel asked

Jesse  hunched his shoulders before sending out a servant to replace his youngest boy. When the boy David walked in Samuel knew without a doubt that this young man was the one God had chosen to be the next king, and so anointed him by pouring oil on his head. This meant that God had indeed chosen him to become king some day.

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When the feast was over David, most likely in a daze, went back to the sheep that had become his pets. He knew each one by name and when he called them they’d run to him to get their wooly heads petted or to receive a little treat. Some among them, alas, were sometimes quarrelsome. David would scold them and repeat again and again,  “Be kind one to another.” Sometimes one or more of them would wander off, so David would call them back to his side. “Stay close to me,” he’d say, “I don’t want to loose you.

He always had his eye out for predators like lions or bears or snakes. It had already happened a number of times and he’d managed to run them off or kill them. Once he even took a lamb out of the mouth of a lion.


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Whenever the sheep were afraid, or when they needed to calm down for the night, he’d call them to himself to gather around him. Then he’d sooth them with sweet melodies that he played on his harp and sometimes he’d add words to the music while they nuzzled close to him and fell into a deep sleep.  There was no reason for them to worry because Daniel was watching over them most diligently. It felt so good to be near him.

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As David was growing up his brothers were fighting in a war with a people called the Philistines, who do not love God, and quite often would try to hurt His people. So at one time when he was sent by his father Jesse to take food to his brothers, he saw that a big giant called Goliath was boasting and teasing God’s people to send contest with him or fight against him. Sadly, the Israelites were afraid of the mean giant.

David was angry when he heard the evil giant yelling awful threats and insults at God’s people while also mocking  their God. “This is just too much. Why doesn’t someone fight against him and eliminate him?” David asked the people around him.

The soldiers laughed at this young fellow who was probably by now a teenager, “Little fellow,” one said condescendingly, “can’t you see the size of his feet?  One kick and you’re out. ” Some of the soldiers, however, winked among themselves, when they heard him say that he’d be willing to try to eliminate him. Most thought it was a joke, but his brothers said, “Who do you think you are? Why don’t you get out of the way”

The other brother added, “Yea, go home and mind your own business.”

” But David was determined to try. So he was  brought before King Saul who laughed as he looked at the skinny young fellow who appeared as if he’d  hardly the strength to inflict the slightest injury on the massive giant almost twice his size. But there was no one else around willing to try, so he called upon a soldier nearby and ordered him to arm David.

David tried the helmet, the heavy shield and clumsy sword, and shook his head. “Just let me face him with my own favorite weapon that I use when guarding my sheep”

“Let him do whatever he wants?” the king ordered, while some of the men around snickered.  “It’ll be interesting for us to watch and see how long he’ll last.”


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As David walked down to the river between the two hills that separated the two armies, he picked up some stones, and while doing so he prayed to God as he’d always done when danger approached. Then, as he started climbing the hill, he began swinging his sling shot around and around, and as he neared Goliath he yelled, “You come to me with sword and spear, I come to you in the name of the LORD Almighty…. “ and by then a stone was already flying through the air and that one stone struck Goliath smack on the forehead. In seconds Goliath lay flat on the ground. The battle was over.


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That evening there were big celebrations when the people praised David, but David cared little about that. He knew it was God who had helped him and had won the victory. None but his brothers knew that he was destined to replace King Saul as God’s chosen king who would also become the greatest king the Israelites ever had.