Spiritual safety zones

“Tear up these pages and make paper wads,” I said handing out scrap paper to the elementary-aged Sunday School class. “We are going to have a paper wad fight this morning.”
The roomful of children stared
My co-worker laughed, “They’ve never had a teacher tell them to have a paper wad flight.”
“I’m telling you now. Start making paper wads while I outline the rules.”
“The piano bench and those chairs are safe zones. You can throw at anyone except kids in the safe zones. If you are in safe zone, you may not throw any paper wads. Break the rules and you’re out of the game. Any questions?”
A 10-year-old with mischievous eyes raised his hand, “Can we throw the paper wads at anyone?”
“Anyone.”
“Even you?”
“Even me,” they all grinned at me. I knew I was in for it.
As soon as I said, “Go!” I was inundated with a blizzard of paper wads. I took it for a while then headed for the closest safety zone. One little girl smiled at me sitting in the safe area and tossed a paper wad at me. I caught it, smiled back and told her she was out of the game. As was the child who joined me and decided to bombard the rest from inside the safety zone.
After dodging in an out of safety zones a few times. A called a halt to our free-for-all. “Gather up all the paper and let’s talk about a country where people needed safety zones stay alive.”
In New Guinea, two men were working in the town gardens, away from their families, when the enemy attacked. Instead of running to their Yali village for help, they headed for a nearby circle of stones — a safe zone. One man made it safely inside the stones. His friend fell down, hurt, outside the stones.
The man inside the ring of stones could not leave to rescue his friend or he would be killed. He tried to distract his attackers by mocking them. He knew he was safe: Any enemy who aimed an arrow at him would immediately be killed.
“Sort of like my telling anyone who threw a paper wad at me while I was in the safety zone that they could not play anymore,” I reminded the class.
When Don Richardson came as a missionary to the area in the 1960s, he found it very difficult to explain the gospel message to these same people. He did until the man who had been inside told Richardson about his narrow escape. Using their custom of established places of refuge, Richardson began talking about the cities of refuge that God had planned long ago for the children of Israel. He slowly introduced Christ as our ever-present refuge – our hiding place who goes with us wherever we are, to keep us safe from the onslaughts of the enemy, Satan, if we agree to accept Him as our hiding place.
The Yali people understood and many became Christians, Richardson contends that the gospel message is already written into many cultures. His book, “With Eternity in Their Hearts” details many other examples. Reading his book, before I taught that class was almost as exciting as the paper wad fight.

About jottingjoan

retired former newspaper writer. Many children and grandchildren. One husband.
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