Fishing for People

By Debbonnaire Kovacs

Kenya Jayne Washington grabbed the bouncing basketball out from under her brother Morgan’s reaching hands, jumped as high as she could, and—swish!—the ball slipped right through the net. Kenya shrieked with glee.

“Oh no!” Morgan howled, clutching his chest. He fell to the driveway, groaning and making hideous faces. “You killed me!”

Kenya danced around him, giggling.

Dad was just walking up the sidewalk from work. He bent over his son, looking mournful. “What did you do to my boy?”

“She creamedme, Dad! I’m deader than a doornail.” Morgan let his face become normal again and sat up. “Exactly how dead is a doornail, anyway?” He climbed to his feet.

“I have no idea.” Dad put an arm around Morgan and whispered loudly, “You think the two of us could take her?”

“In your dreams!” Kenya grabbed the basketball and started dribbling toward the net.

A few minutes later, Nairobi came up the sidewalk just as Mom put her head out the door and called, “Supper!”

“I think the Lakers have taken over the driveway, Mom. They can’t hear you.” Nairobi rolled her eyes and went inside.

Mom shouted again. This time the basketball players heard her and came laughing and panting into the house.

That evening, Kenya lay on the living room floor upside down with her feet on the couch. It was her best thinking position. “Morgan?”

“Hmm?” Morgan was nearby, doing homework.

“What does fishing for people mean?”

Morgan wrote something and then looked up as if he had just heard her. “What?”

“Fishing for people. When we went with the Pattersons to church this week, that’s what they talked about in the Primary class. Jesus told Peter, James, and John they would fish for people instead of fish. What does that mean?” Kenya asked.

“I guess it means to try to find ways to tell people about Jesus so that they’ll be tempted to learn more about Him. Like those girls you invited here a while back. What were their names?” Morgan asked.

“You mean Lisa and Mali? But they never came back after that one time. Lisa doesn’t even talk to me at school anymore. Sometimes I think Mali might like to be friends, but she’s afraid to make Lisa mad,” Kenya sighed.

“Well, if you keep on being nice to them, maybe they’ll change their minds. Fishermen have to be patient, you know.” Morgan grinned.

“OK, but aren’t there more ways to fish for people?” Kenya asked

“I don’t know,” Morgan replied. “What did Jesus do? He’s supposed to be the example, isn’t He?”

“Well, He healed people. I can’t exactly do that!” Kenya giggled.

“You can help people though. Like when you read to Mrs. Hazelton when she was sick. Remember?”

“That was fishing for people?” Kenya was surprised. She thought fishing for people was work, and she’d enjoyed reading to Mrs. Hazelton.

“It was following Jesus’ example. What else did He do?” Morgan asked.

“He taught people. I can’t teach anybody.” Kenya frowned.

“Sure you can. I heard you playing church with those little kids next door just the other day, and you were teaching them to sing ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ There are all kinds of ways to be like Jesus. I think even when you help Mom, or bike home with Dad—he likes that, you know—or, I don’t know . . .” Morgan ran out of ideas.

“Play basketball with my elderly brother?” Kenya said, giggling and rolling quickly away.

Morgan’s arms were so long he caught her anyway, and started tickling her. “Only if you have mercy on him and let him get at least a few baskets!”

“Stop!” Kenya gasped, and he let her go.

“Now, if you have fishing all figured out, I do have homework to do.” Morgan returned to reading his homework assignment.

Kenya traced a pattern on the rug with her finger. “Do you like that church?”

“The Pattersons’ church? Sure, don’t you?” Morgan looked up again.

“It’s fine, but . . .” Kenya kept tracing the pattern on the rug. “I like our church too.”

“Well, so do I. I’m glad they’re on different days, so we can go to both.”

“Yes, but . . . well, what if they’re right about the Sabbath? I mean, the Bible does say to keep the seventh day. I looked it up.” Morgan continued to trace designs on the rug.

“I know. So did I.” Morgan tapped his pencil on his book in a complicated rhythm. “Did you know Mom and Dad are talking about studying the Bible with the Pattersons?”

Kenya raised her head from the floor. “They are? Can we study too?”

“I don’t see why not. One thing’s for sure, I have to study now!” Morgan gave her a fierce look and turned back to his book again.

Kenya watched him write for a few minutes. Then she started to giggle. “Hey, Morgan!”

Morgan sighed loudly. “What now?”

“Do you think the Pattersons are fishing for us?” Kenya asked.

Morgan stared at her for a second. Then he laughed too. “Maybe they are. Why don’t you go see if you can get caught on Mike’s hook and leave me alone so I can figure out what the capital of India is!”

Kenya left him to his book and went to find Mom. She told her about the conversation. “But, Mom,” she concluded, “if they’re fishing for us, and we’re fishing for others, and probably they’re fishing for us too . . . who’s right?”

Mom smiled. “That’s a great question, sugar. I’ve been thinking a lot about it myself. And I think I’ve found an answer. There are really only two fishermen for people. Can you guess who they are?”

Kenya wrinkled her forehead. “Jesus, and who else?”

“Who else wants to catch us?” Mom asked.

“Oh, you mean Satan!” Kenya replied.

“Right! So it seems to me that all of us little fishes better look closely before we bite, and be sure whose hook we’re on!”

Kenya thought about that. “Is that why you’re going to study with the Pattersons?”

“Exactly. Maybe they know some things about the Bible that we haven’t learned yet. And maybe we know some things they haven’t learned yet.”

Kenya laughed. “It’s kind of like fish telling each other, ‘Hey! Over here! There’s a net instead of a hook, and the Fisherman won’t kill you and eat you! Instead, He’ll put you in a great, big pond where there’s plenty of fresh water, and lots of algae to eat, and it’s fishy heaven!’ ”

Mom threw back her head and laughed. “Exactly, my little minnow! Oh, child, you are a treasure! Make sure nobody but Jesus ever catches you, OK?” She hugged Kenya tightly.

“Never! I promise!” Kenya hugged Mom back even more tightly.

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