See how a simple song meant everything to a child whose mother was dying of cancer in this heartwarming story.
I’ve been the Christian preschool director for years, and I remember how hard we worked to make learning unforgettable for that first class of preschoolers — coordinating fun projects and field trips, fostering relationships, sharing stories, and organizing monthly visits with the pastor. My son (who’s now 14) was one of the first to attend our preschool class. Yet when I asked him what he remembered from preschool, he looked at me blankly and asked, “I went to preschool?”
When you minister to preschoolers, it’s easy to wonder what difference you’re making for a lifetime…especially when your own son doesn’t recall anything about his time there. Recently God reminded me of the vital role our ministry plays in children’s hearts — for today.
Karyn came to our preschool with no church background and little understanding of God. In the first few months of school, we learned that Karyn’s mother had terminal cancer. It seemed an unbearable burden for a child so young.
In the fall, Karyn and her classmates learned to sing “Jesus Loves Me.” The kids also learned about prayer and the anticipation of Jesus’ birth. Karyn’s mother was too sick to attend our Christmas program, but Karyn proudly showed me the present she’d bought for her: a snow globe with a baby Jesus inside. She said she knew she had to buy it because her mom needed Jesus now. God was at work in Karyn’s heart.
By spring, Karyn felt comfortable talking about God in a way that surpassed many of her teachers. After praying at snack time, she whispered to me, “I already talked to God this morning. I told God I didn’t really want to clean my room.” I related well to that prayer, and smiled as I saw how God was at work in Karyn’s heart.
When Karyn’s mother died, I attended the funeral. During the service, the pastor recalled how as Karyn’s mother was dying, Karyn began singing “Jesus Loves Me.” Then she prompted the others gathered at her mother’s bedside, “Come on, everybody, let’s all sing.” It was only fitting, then, that everyone in the funeral home joined in singing the simple child’s song. As I sang, I recalled that fall when Karyn and her classmates learned the song. God used “Jesus Loves Me” to comfort an entire funeral party; I knew he’d also used it to comfort Karyn’s heart.
Some of Karyn’s friends from preschool came to the funeral, and she walked with them past the casket. As she did, I heard her explain that it was only her mom’s body in the casket; her soul was already in heaven.
Karyn experienced her first Mother’s Day without her mom. She wanted to make the same projects her friends made, and she was fine with the idea of bringing her gifts to the grave site. The class videotaped things they knew about their mothers. They revealed special details about their moms-things like their favorite foods and games they liked to play. When it was her turn, Karyn talked about what she wanted to remember-her mother’s birthday; the time she went sledding and her sister fell down; one special time when she and her mom ate lunch together all by themselves.
I don’t know what Karyn will remember from her preschool experience when she’s 14. But I do know I saw God at work in Karyn’s heart when she needed it most — just for today. And that’s something I’ll never forget.
Sheila Halasz is a Christian preschool director in Crystal Lake, Illinois.