“You mean, He still had the scars?”
Good Friday in Japan
It's Good Friday, and I'm about to share the Easter Story with my most fiery class; all boys, wielding the energy of every class I teach combined. Everyone is buzzing with excitement that we've transitioned from the rows of desks to the big, round table and that I've got the remote in hand. All eyes are on the video I've prepared to share. I found some great resources from the Saddleback Church kids ministry, and the students have heard about my church in California before. They're always very curious to see what my church is like in America.
Every student present had heard about the birth of Jesus at Christmas, and some of them had heard about the life story of Jesus from the year before. Our Japanese teacher translated the story for them to understand it more completely, and as we watched, I could see them making connections with what they already knew. One boy sitting closer to me was shocked when he saw Jesus come back to talk with His disciples: "You mean, He still had the scars? He still had the holes in His hands?" He pressed his fingers to his own hands and continued to watch. As the video ended, I asked the class, "What questions do you have?"
My most fiery student shot up his hand from across the table, and with the most serious expression, he asked,
"Ms. Sarah, is that story true? Did Jesus really die and come back from the dead? Did it really happen?"
Somehow, I did not expect that question. The question that mattered more than any other question they could ask me.
"Yes," I answered. "It really happened, and I believe it."
The whole room erupted with a sharp intake of collective breath. "No way!" "Really?" "That couldn't have happened..."
"What other questions do you have? Anyone else?"
Same kid's hand shoots up.
"Ms. Sarah! I gotta go to the bathroom!"
Of course, question time was over, and we transitioned to a new activity. What an unusual Good Friday. I had so many questions.
A few months later, the student who had seemed moved by Jesus' scars very quietly pulled a folded piece of paper from his book bag. He looked at me to get my attention during writing time as the other students loudly drilled spelling words. I saw that it had a cross on the front, and I recognized it as a church bulletin. He opened it over his notebook and pointed to what I could tell were the lyrics to a song, and I began to read the Japanese aloud. My boss, who was teaching with me for that part of class, said, "Oh! Sarah, that's What a Friend We Have in Jesus. You know that song." She started singing it in Japanese, and I used the bulletin to sing along. The look on this student's face, I'll never forget it. It's the look you get when people know you, and your heart is at rest.
We had about 30 children attend our school Easter party, with about 10 or more parents in attendance. Please keep our school in your prayers.