No Sunday School Today
“No Sunday School Today.” Such was the sign that greeted six-year-old Debbie Richards on the afternoon of December 31st. As usual, her father had dropped her off at the Community Hall, intending to call back for her when the session was concluded.
The public hall, however, was being decorated for a gala New Year’s Eve party, so the Sunday School was cancelled for that day. Little Debbie decided to walk home, rather than wait in the cold for her father to return at the end of an hour.
On a lonely stretch of road, the tot was attacked by a pack of wild Indian dogs famished with hunger, and aroused by the scent of the Richard’s shepherd dog on the girl’s clothing.
The mauled and mangled body of the child was found some time later by one of the villagers, and a posse was hurriedly formed to hunt down and destroy the pack of killer dogs. But it was too late to save the life of the girl who had been turned away from the door of her Sunday School.
There is an increasing trend toward closing down our Sunday Schools for the summer months, because so many children and teachers are away for vacation or week-end trips. Soon the matter will be discussed again at some Sunday School Teachers’ meetings. Local circumstances will be a contributing factor in the decision, and the writer of this article does not attempt to lay down a hard and fast rule.
Before you plan to close your school, however, let this story weigh upon your mind. A precious young life was lost because Sunday School was closed to make way for a frivolous party. Could it happen to the children of your school?
No, there is little likelihood of an attack by wild dogs, but what of those figurative beasts to which your children are exposed? While your classrooms are idle the forces of evil are still busy corrupting the young minds.
Most of your regular scholars come Sunday after Sunday out of habit. During the vacation time, while that habit is being broken, another habit is being formed by the child. By the time Rally Day comes round some of these children may be so tightly bound by the new controlling influence that they no longer desire to come to Sunday School.
The result means not only a scholar lost to the Sunday School, but a life lost to evil or immoral practices. Yes, even beyond that, a soul is lost for Eternity.
Let the Sunday School teacher ponder this thought before carelessly planning a week-end excursion that will leave the class without an instructor, or with a last-minute substitute who has no contact with the children and little in the way of suitable message for them.
Of course, there are counter-arguments that may be raised. Our children are only under the sound of the Gospel for one hour a week, and then, perforce, they are exposed to the influence of evil for the balance of the week. But that one hour can be like a cable to keep the child in contact with that which is right, and to restrain from a drifting into places of peril or danger. The love and devotion of a kindly, godly teacher will also affect the child that a standard of integrity and uprightness is fixed upon the young mind. A protective barrier is raised against the rising tide of evil.
Loose the cable, remove the break-wall, and the child is deprived of his only contact with Calvary. He is allowed to drift away with the currents of corruption. As he swirls beyond your reach, he may look back at you with a reproachful eye, and exclaim, “Refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul!” Psalm 142:4.
Admittedly, this is an era of stress and strain, when people are working under pressure for fifty weeks of the year. For most individuals a vacation, with change of activity and surroundings, is essential to maintain physical and mental health.
When planning that vacation, be sure to make arrangements for your Sunday School class as well. Select as a substitute the very best person available as an instructor of your children during your absence.
Remember that David, before he went to visit his brothers in the valley of Elah, left his sheep in the care of the keeper. He did not leave them to wander across the hills of Bethlehem until his return. They would not have been there when he came back!
Where the substitute teachers are also in short supply, it may be feasible to let one teacher take a combined group comprising children from two or three classes of similar ages. This is especially suitable where the summer attendance is reduced considerably because of families on vacation, or off on week-end trips, etc.
Rather than close the school completely for the summer months, it would be well to consider, as an alternative, the possibility of having an open school, where all the children, or all the children of certain age groups, are gathered together in one room, while an interesting and gifted speaker addresses the whole company.
The session should be sufficiently appealing and lively to make the youngsters feel it worth their while to attend. Never let them form the impression that the program is merely a makeshift arrangement.
Scholars should be encouraged to come regularly, even during the summer months. In fact, some special form of contest or award may be used as a means of recognizing those who make a definite effort to come during the hot weather.
Any form of assembling is better than closing the doors and completely leaving the children exposed to the unrestrained influence of evil.
In the days of Ahab, the people of Israel were seen as “scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd” (2 Chron. 18:16). Would you want the Lord to look down from Heaven and say that of those little ones whom He has entrusted to your care?
The faithful Sunday School teacher will seek to emulate the Good Shepherd, who careth for the sheep, and who is ready to lay down His life for the sheep.