There was nothing special about her. She wouldn't stand out in any crowd. About average height and average build, short brown hair, a scattering of freckles across the bridge of an average-looking nose, she entered the room timidly. Taking a chair in the back, she didn't say a word as the crowd of giggling girls who made up my Sunday School class slowly collected around her.
Week after week she returned, listening intently to the story, answering questions to win a prize, but rarely lifting her head to look around her. I tried to get her to volunteer some information about herself, but she didn't give much more than her name. "Dawn Smith," she replied with a shy smile. I liked that smile.
After a few classes I started watching for her to enter, getting her involved in setting up chairs and erasing white boards. She worked hard, wanted to please, and over time she seemed to really look forward to helping. Not one other child in that class loved hearing the Bible stories as much as Dawn did. She seemed spellbound by characters the other kids had grown bored with long ago. She asked good, searching questions. Who was this little seeker God had placed in my care? No one in the congregation seemed to know.
Then came Mother's Day, and my class settled down to the serious business of making cards for that special lady. Dawn shyly raised her hand and asked if she could make two. I smiled, handing her another sheet of paper, and said it was very thoughtful of her to make an extra card for her mom. Shaking her head, she responded that one was for her mother, and one for her foster mom. Suddenly, I understood the situation and knew immediately where she came from. A young, divorced mother had recently begun attending our church, bringing with her not only her own children, but also the foster girls she was raising. To make a living for the group, Linda ran a day care center in her home, and she obviously loved children. This little darling was one of her charges, rescued from a troubled home.
It took a while for me to determine what I could do to make Dawn feel special. Finally I decided to write her a note on a cute little card I found. Don't all kids love to get mail? In the note I thanked Dawn for helping me set up each week (she had started coming early to do that) and told her she was very special to me. Ending with a promise to pray for her, I carefully addressed the tiny envelope and sent it on its way with a prayer.
Within a few days, I found a note from Linda in my mailbox, thanking me for taking a special interest in Dawn, and giving me some background information. Dawn was so excited to receive the note that it encouraged me to write her regularly, often enclosing a little bookmark or a sheet of stickers. Then I received a final card. Dawn's time with Linda had come to an end, and she was returning to her parents, who were now declared able to handle her and her sisters again. Her parents weren't Christians, and Dawn, who had become a believer in Linda's home, would have to live out her faith under difficult circumstances. The note closed with her home address and a plea for me to continue to write to Dawn.
I did indeed continue to write to Dawn, sending school supplies, notebooks, pens and prayers of encouragement. I never heard back from her, and Linda moved on to another church. Perhaps the notes and cards didn't have the impact they once did after Dawn became a teenager, but I kept writing and praying for her anyway.
Dawn is just one of many young girls I will never forget here on earth, and look forward to meeting again on the shores of heaven. That teaching time was many years ago. I have since moved from the area to another state, and I no longer teach children but am teaching women and blogging instead. Even after many years, though, I know for sure that God placed Dawn in my class so long ago for my blessing as well as hers.
Should you accept the challenge of teaching a Sunday School class, you, too will know the joy of reaching a child with the message of Jesus. Who knows the impact you will have on that life?