By Linda Porter Carlyle
Hannah Maria Estevez eyed the pile of brightly colored cards in Pastor Chuck’s hand. She wondered what he was going to have them do in Sabbath School today. Whatever it was, she wanted to have a pink card, she decided. Or maybe one of the sunshine yellow ones.
“Let’s go over to the table,” Pastor Chuck said. “We’re going to be doing some writing, and I think it will be easier to do it at the table.”
When all the boys and girls were settled, Pastor Chuck also sat down. He laid the stack of cards in front of him. “Does anyone know what our memory verse is this week? I haven’t taught it to you yet, but perhaps you looked ahead.” he asked.
Hannah had looked ahead. But she waited to see if anybody else was going to answer first. Finally she put her hand up. “ ‘Carry each other’s burdens,’ “ she said.
Pastor Chuck smiled. “Very good, Hannah!” he said. “Now does anyone have an idea what that verse means?”
“It means to be helpful to people,” Trevor said.
“Like if somebody falls down on the playground and gets hurt, you help them up and take them to the office to get a bandage,” Megan said.
“Good example,” Pastor Chuck said with a smile.
“My dad says the best way we can help people is to pray for them,” Trevor put in. “And then sometimes God will give us ideas of other ways to help them.”
“That’s right!” Pastor Chuck agreed. “Just like God gave me an idea of how to help and encourage some special people who really need it,” he went on. “Do any of you know someone who is in jail?” he asked.
Nobody’s hand went up.
“Well,” Pastor Chuck went on, “there are a lot of people in jails. And many times they feel completely forgotten by people on the outside.” He paused. “Do you know that the Bible tells us we should visit people who are in jail?” he asked. “Jesus tells us that if we visit people in prison, it is like we are visiting Him.”
“We can’t go to a jail! We’re just kids!” Joseph protested.
Pastor Chuck laughed. “I know,” he said. “So we’re going to do the next best thing.” He picked up his pile of cards. “We are going to write to some people in prison. We will encourage them with a postcard.”
“But I don’t even know anybody in prison!” Trevor exclaimed.
“That’s OK,” Pastor Chuck said. “I have a whole list of names right here.” He unfolded a piece of white paper and spread it flat on the table.
“What do we say to somebody we don’t even know?” Hannah asked. Maybe she didn’t want a pink card after all.
“You could find an encouraging Bible verse and copy it on a card,” Pastor Chuck suggested. “We just want to remind these people that they have not been forgotten and that Jesus still loves them. Even if they are in jail.”
It was quiet in the Sabbath School room. Joseph opened his Bible to the middle. He wondered what an encouraging verse would be to someone in prison. His eyes moved down through the verses of Psalm 34. When he got to verse 4, he read, “I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me; He freed me from all my fears.”
Joseph looked up. “I found a good verse!” he exclaimed. “I think it would be really scary to be in prison. I mean I would be scared! This verse says, ‘I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me; He freed me from all my fears.’ I could send that verse to a prisoner, couldn’t I?”
“I think it’s a perfect verse!” Pastor Chuck agreed. “Now write it on the back of one of the postcards. Sign the card, ‘Your friend at the Seventh-day Adventist Church.’* And then you can pick a name from my list here and copy the address on the front. Be very careful when you write the name and address. You have to get all the numbers just right, or the card won’t be delivered.”
Hannah reached for the stack of cards. She picked out a bright pink one after all. Then she looked at the list of prisoner’s names. There were mostly men’s names on the paper, but two women’s names were at the end of the list. Hannah smiled. She just knew that a bright pink card would cheer up a woman in prison. She was very careful as she copied the address on the front of the postcard. There were a bunch of numbers to get just right!
Hannah opened her Bible. If she couldn’t find a verse she liked, she could always use Joseph’s. His was a good one. But at least she would look for a little while. She began to read Psalm 20. Verse 1 was perfect! “May the Lord answer you when you are in trouble! May the God of Jacob protect you!” Hannah turned the postcard over and began to write carefully in her very best handwriting.
* Dear adult friends of children: Children’s names and/or addresses should never be attached to correspondence sent to prisoners.