By Debbonnaire Kovacs
Solomon Nassim El-charif grinned as he listened to Kenya talking to the Sabbath School class. She always sounded so excited about everything.
“Right up to the last minute we didn’t know how it was going to work out! Mom and Dad wanted so much for us to go to church school, even though it’s a whole hour away. I wanted to go too, and Morgan got a job to help pay his way to academy. But Nairobi wasn’t so sure, because she has a lot of friends at public school. Anyway, the school is going to give Mom work during the school day. She can drive us there, stay all day, drive us home, and get some money to help pay for it!” Kenya had to stop for breath. Then she bounced in her seat and practically squealed, “And that’s not all! You’ll never guess, so I’ll just tell you. Two of Nairobi’s best friends might go too!”
Ms. Kimoto looked surprised. “From public school?”
“Yes! Their parents heard how good an education they can get at our church school, and they’re checking it out. Can you believe it?”
“That’s great!” Ms. Kimoto agreed. “God always has great surprises. Does anyone else have praises they would like to share with the class?”
Solly raised his hand. “We get to go to Washington, D. C. next month.”
Ms. Kimoto raised her hand and the class quieted. “If we give him a chance, Solly will tell us.”
“My cousin is getting married, and that means a huge family party. Sara and I already have permission to miss three days of school.”
“Three days! For a wedding?” Susannah looked amazed.
“Oh, it’s more than that. We’ll be gone five days, but only three of them are school days. There will be about a zillion relatives and tons of food. Besides that, I’m really looking forward to seeing the Capitol, the White House, and lots of awesome stuff!”
The class had a really fun day that Sabbath morning. Ms. Kimoto had prepared a treasure hunt which took the class members all over the place, even out in the parking lot. When they finally found the treasure chest, it was almost as exciting as if it contained gold and jewels. Afterward, when they discussed the treasure God has for us when we join His family, they all talked happily of the baptism of Kenya’s family (all the family, even Nairobi, Kenya reminded them).
Mike told them that Mr. Fontaine had been going back to his church too. “He said he might visit here also, because we were kind to him when he was in need.”
“That’s the way God wants us to be,” Ms. Kimoto told them. “When we are kind and loving, we show people the way Jesus feels about them. That makes them want to be a part of God’s family.”
Then came the lesson story. Most of the children were very surprised that Isaac’s father, Abraham, had chosen a wife for him.
“And when he was forty years old too!” Kenya exclaimed. “That’s really old, as old as my dad! Why did he wait that long?”
“Well, there are two things we need to remember,” Ms. Kimoto explained. “One is that this story takes place way, way back in time, only a couple of thousand years after the world was created. People lived much longer than we do. They no longer lived hundreds of years like Adam did, but Abraham lived 175 years. So forty wasn’t as old then as it is now.” She smiled at Kenya and added, “And it isn’t as old now as it seems to you! The other thing was the problem Abraham and Isaac faced. Do you remember why Abraham wanted to go far away to find a wife for his son?”
Susannah raised her hand. “Because there were no women nearby that believed in God.” She looked sad and hesitated.
“Is there something else you would like to say, Susannah?” Ms. Kimoto asked.
“Well, it’s just—you know, after my dad left my mom, he married a woman who doesn’t love God. Now he doesn’t even go to church at all. I mean, he was already disobeying. I know that. But I think that a wife—or a husband—who doesn’t love God has a lot of power over the other person. I agree with Abraham that it would have been a really bad idea for Isaac to marry somebody who worshiped idols.”
“I understand that part,” Mike agreed, “but what I don’t get is why Abraham sent away for somebody. He didn’t even go—he sent a servant. Why didn’t Isaac go himself? I wouldn’t want somebody else to choose my wife for me!”
“Me neither!” The whole class seemed to feel very strongly about that!
“Why not?” Solly asked.
Everybody stared at him. “Why not!”
“Don’t you trust your mother and father to choose someone you would love? Who knows you better than they do?”
Kenya’s mouth hung open. “Well, but—”
Solly continued. “My cousin’s wife was chosen for him. I mean, his family spent a long time in discussion and letter writing and all that. Then they brought the woman for Ali to meet. They liked each other, and they believe God can help them choose to love each other forever. Mother says in the old days, wives and husbands often didn’t even meet until the wedding. She thinks that’s a bad idea, but in Arab families, the parents still have a lot to do with choosing wives and husbands.”
“That’s interesting,” Ms. Kimoto said. “That’s not the first time your culture and mine have had something in common, Solly. In Japan this custom is becoming less common now, but my parents were chosen for each other. The rest of you don’t think you would like that?” She smiled around the class.
Mike said thoughtfully, “I guess I can see that there could be some good things about it.”
“Yes,” Matt agreed. “What if you just choose a girl who looks pretty, and then she turns out to be mean?” The others laughed, and he added, “Not that I’m ever getting married!”
Kenya hadn’t said anything for a few minutes. “One thing is for sure,” she declared. “I want to marry somebody who loves God and obeys Him! I guess I would like my mom and dad’s advice on that, now that I think of it.”