The After School Bible Adventure Club – Part 3

They began meeting the following week and for the next couple of months, things went really well. They studied the Bible. They memorized Bible verses. A few more kids from school saw the announcement about the club and began to meet with them. They found service projects to do for the elderly people that they knew about. They were one of the clean up teams when the school held a work day on a Saturday to clean up the school grounds.

Things were going really well; until Freddie showed up.

Freddie was the leader of a group of bullies at their school and they tried to run the playground. He and his group had been playing some softball one day on the playground. Johnny was on the other team.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Johnny’s team was behind by a score of 5 to 3. Freddie was having a rough inning. He had already allowed one hit and walked another batter.  So there were two guys on base with two outs when Johnny came up to bat. Freddie thought that he was a really good pitcher but, Johnny had gotten two hits and a walk against him. If Freddie could get Johnny out, his team would win.

Johnny decided to wait for a pitch that he could hit. If he could hit it deep enough, the two guys on base could score and the game would be tied. After falling behind on two pitches that were borderline balls, Freddie threw his corkscrew pitch and Johnny swung. He hit the ball really hard and it sailed to left field. The two guys on base began to run as soon as they realized that the outfielder wasn’t going to catch it. Johnny watched for a few moments and then began to run as hard as he could. The ball kept sailing until it went over the fence. It was a home run and Johnny’s team had won the game. After all the runners scored, Johnny’s team huddled around home plate yelling and screaming their excitement. Johnny was the hero.

Freddie didn’t see it that way. He felt that all of that celebrating was embarrassing and decided to get Johnny back for that. Freddie had seen Johnny walking home with his friends Susie and Andrea. He knew just where to intercept Johnny with his gang.

The next day he and his buddies and give Johnny a hard time on the way home in front of his friends.

The After School Bible Adventure Club had been studying the book of Romans in their after school meetings and were memorizing verses each week as they went through it. They were up to Romans chapter 12 in the part that says:

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

In fact, they were memorizing that last verse.


The After School Bible Adventure Club – Part 2

Before their science class, they went to Mr. Christopherson’s desk to ask him to be their advisor. You see Mr. Christopherson is also their Sunday School teacher.

“Guys” he responded “I would love to do that. In fact I have been thinking lately about asking you if you wanted to have that kind of group. I haven’t figured out what you might call it though. Have you thought of anything?”

Susie spoke up, “Not yet, Mr. Christopherson. But, we’re praying that God will give us one for it. You know, while we continue to think about it, Christian Service Club doesn’t sound to bad. What do you guys think about that?”

After school, they picked up the application for the club at the school office before they went home. Susie volunteered to feed them a snack at her house while they filled it out.

“That’s a great idea, Susie. Maybe your mom has made some cookies. I’m hungry” said Johnny rubbing his rounded stomach. The two girls looked at each other and laughed at their friend.

Well, Mrs. Johnson did have some freshly made cookies. Susie and Andrea began to fill out the application while Johnny helped Mrs. Johnson serve the milk and cookies.

Susie looked up from the application and said, “What do we really want to call our club?”

Andrea spoke first, “You know, it’s an after school club so why don’t we just call it the “After School Club”?”

“I kind of like that,” said Johnny while he was taking another generous bite from a warm cookie.

“These cookies are some of your best yet Mrs. Johnson, thank you!”

“You’re welcome, Johnny.” Mrs. Johnson responded.

Susie leaned back in her chair, “I think that it needs something. The name ought to tell people that it’s a Christian club and that we will be studying and memorizing the Bible.”

Susie’s face lit up and then she sat straight up and said, “Let’s call it the “After School Bible Club”?”

“Wow, that’s real good too, Susie. But, you know, being a Christian can really an adventure too and we’re going to be looking for lots of ways to serve people. So why don’t we call it the “After School Bible Adventure Club”?

Johnny then took a big drink of his cold milk and then leaned back in his chair.

Susie and Andrea looked at each other with surprise at their friend’s suggestion and then both said at the same time, “I like it!”

Johnny smiled and then said, “So ‘The After School Bible Adventure Club’ it is. Write that down on the form Susie.” And she did.

They took the form to school the next day and showed it to Mr. Christopherson. He agreed heartily with the name for the club, signed the form and they turned it in to the office. Mr. Christopherson arranged a room for them to meet in and suggested that they meet on Tuesday’s right after school. Now they could put their ideas into action.


The After School Bible Adventure Club – Part 1

“The After School Bible Adventure Club”

By: S.C. Mathisen

(Note: Part of this story is an homage to the original Susie and Johnny stories written by Dr. J C Brumfield for the Radio Kids Bible Club. Those stories inspired these and, this one scene was so powerful, I included a version of it in this story.)

One day at school Susie and Andrea came out of the girl’s room and found Johnny sitting on a bench in the school courtyard with his Bible open on his lap, staring off into the sky. As they got closer, they could see that his lips were moving. They looked at each other and then walked over to where he was sitting. As they got closer to him they could hear “John 3:15 “…that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” John 3:15, John 3:15 “…that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” John 3:15….” “Johnny” said Susie “are you reviewing your memory verses from AWANA?”

“Yup, I don’t want to forget them. These were some of the first verses that I ever learned” he said. “I especially want to remember this one because it reminds me that Jesus wants everyone to have eternal life like we have and I want all of my new friends here at school to know it too!”

Johnny’s enthusiasm was infectious and soon our little trio was talking about starting their very own bible club at school.

“What should we call it?” asked Andrea, turning to look at Susie.

“I don’t know…yet,” said Susie with a thoughtful look on her face. “I think that we should pray about it and see what the Lord suggests to us.”

“That’s a great idea,” said Johnny. “Besides, lunch is over and we need to get back to our classroom in a hurry!”

After school was out for the day, the three friends were walking home still talking excitedly about their idea for a Bible club at their school. Johnny turned to his friends and said, “You know, we’ll need a teacher to be our advisor and I was thinking that Mr. Christopherson would be a really great; especially since he is our Sunday school teacher too.” Both Susie and Andrea thought that was a great idea too, and it was decided that they would talk to Mr. Christopherson the next day before their science class.

As the three friends said their prayers that night, they each prayed for their club and asked the Lord to give them a name that would tell the other kids at school what being a Christian was all about.

The next morning on their walk to school each excitedly shared what they had thought of and prayed about the night before. When Johnny mentioned memorizing verses, Susie responded,

“That’s a great idea Johnny. Memorizing will help us more when things get hard and when we are tempted to sin.”

“And when we witness to other kids” he replied. Andrea then told about her idea to do chores and errands for the elderly people in the neighborhood.

“Hey, Andrea that’s great too” said Johnny. “Did you think of a name for our group Susie” Johnny asked.

Susie looked at her two friends, “No, I didn’t. I was hoping that one of you would. Did you think of anything Andrea?”

“Nope, sorry” Andrea responded while shaking her head.

“We’ll just have to keep praying about it…God will give us something really great, I’m sure” said Susie.


Two Shepherds

Two Shepherds  

Original story told by: God

Adapted by: S.C. Mathisen


“Jacob, how long are you going to lie there and stare at the night sky?”

“As long as I need to Zebedee, I’ve been watching this star every night for the last several months, and it seems to be getting closer and closer every night. I can’t figure it out.”

“We need to get back to the flock; I’m worried that those Roman soldiers will decide to help themselves to a couple of our sheep while we are away from them.”

“All right, all right, I’m ready to go back now. I made a few notes on the position tonight. It looks like it is straight above that little village of Bethlehem. Maybe we’ll go in there in the morning and look around.”

“Help me gather up our things here, Jacob. You know, after this season is over, I’m going to head back up to Galilee and take my uncle up on his offer to teach me fishing and to set me up with a fishing boat. I am getting really tired of sleeping outside on the hard ground every night, watching a bunch of smelly sheep.”

“That sounds pretty good, Zebedee, but I like being out here. I especially like it at night when I can watch the stars. Ok, I’ve got the food; let’s get back to the sheep.”

The two shepherds head back over several small hills to the small field where they had left their herd. Jacob looks back over his shoulder at the star that has captured his imagination, and Zebedee scans the horizon for any signs of Roman patrols.

“Jacob, why does that star fascinate you so much? After all, the night sky is full of stars. What is so special about that one?”

“I don’t really know Zebedee, for some reason it reminds me of the Lord’s promise to send the Messiah. You know, I heard from a passing caravan yesterday that there was a strange caravan of royal astrologers in the area from some country far away to the east. I heard they were here because they had been following a star all the way from their country. I wonder if it’s the same star. I’d like to run into them and ask them a few questions.”

“Sounds kind of crazy to me. No one believes any of that Messiah stuff anymore.”

“But don’t you remember all the prophecies from synagogue school? One of them talked about a star!”

“Jacob, come on! All of that stuff is just old, tired stories to tell the kiddies at bedtime. If God was going to send a messiah, he wouldn’t have let us get conquered by the Romans. If He exists, He’s off doing other things and has cut us loose to take care of ourselves. Come on, we need to get back to the sheep.”

“I don’t care what most people think, Zebedee. I believe the stories, and I think that star has something to do with them. I just have a feeling about it.”

“Great! Wonderful for you. Me, I just want to get back to the sheep and get some sleep. All this stargazing is depriving me of some well-deserved sleep.”

The two shepherds arrived back where they had left the sheep and begin laying out their sleeping gear and soon settle down for some sleep.

“Here we are, Zebedee. The sheep are right down there in that field all nestled in for the night, and we are here with them. Let’s call it a night. I sure wish that caravan from the east would come by here. I’d like to talk to those men.”

A couple of hours later:

Zebedee awakes. He hears something that sounds like singing. Then, his eyes are almost blinded by a bright light.

“Jacob, what’s that in the sky? It can’t be morning already.”

“What? What do you want?” He cups his hand over his eyes. “Wow! That is really bright!”

“I’m scared,” said Zebedee.

“ I am too,” replied Jacob.

A third voice speaks. The voice seems to come from everywhere.

“Don’t be afraid!”

“Who said that?” asked Zebedee.

“Is that you, Simon?” asked Jacob, in a shaky voice.

“Don’t be afraid!” the voice repeated. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize Him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds just looked at each other.

“Jacob,” said Zebedee, “remember all that stuff about not believing all those old stories?”

Jacob looked at his friend, smiled, and said, “Yes?”

“I’ve changed my mind. I do believe them now. ALL of them. Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and arrived just as the sun was coming up. After asking all around, they found Mary and Joseph in a stable with their baby boy, lying in the manger.

When they saw Him, they both went weak in the knees, knelt, and worshiped Him. They told Mary and Joseph what had happened to them, and they both were amazed.

Afterwards, they told everyone they met what had happened and what the angel had said about this child and where to find Him.

All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished. Many came to worship Him as well.

Susie, Johnny and The Good Shepherd – Part 5 – The Ending

Just then, the county sheriff and the animal control officer arrived and they helped Lucy get Abigail into her truck and rounded up the cubs and got them all to a secure area. One of the sheriff’s officers walked Mr. Christopherson back to the cabin. The children all gathered around him and mobbed him trying to make sure that he was all right. He finally got them all settled down, got a fire going in the cabin and dinner served all around. They sat around the fireplace while he told them the story of his rescue and was just getting to the end when there was a knock at the door. Susie ran over to answer it and opened the door to see a lady in a uniform from the park standing there. “Is Mr. Christopherson in?” she asked. “Yes ma’am, come on in.” She stepped in and saw all the kids gathered around Mr. Christopherson and said, “Wow! You have quite a crew here Mr. Christopherson.” “Hello Lucy, please call me Joshua. Come on in, would you like some hot chocolate?” he offered. “Class, I would like you to meet the person that saved my bacon. Her name is Dr. Shaw. She is the head veterinarian at the park and she’s the one that showed up with her tranquilizer gun just in the nick of time.” “Whoa, there Mr. Christopherson, I was just doing my job. We want all the visitors to feel like they get to see the animals behaving normally in their natural habitat. But, you guys just got a little too close” she said while the children laughed. Dr. Shaw continued, “I wanted to drop by and make sure that everyone was ok and let you know that your whole trip down here is going to be on the house and you will have your entrance fees refunded and a set of annual family passes for each of you so that you can all bring your families down here as much as you want for a year!” There was cheering all around and Andrea tapped Dr. Shaw on the shoulder and offered her a cup of hot chocolate. Dr. Shaw accepted gratefully and sat down to chat with Mr. Christopherson and the children.

Johnny noticed that Jimmy Barski was sitting off by himself while everyone else was gathered around Mr. Christopherson & Dr. Shaw. He looked at Susie & Andrea; they had noticed the same thing and the trio of friends went over to sit with him. Jimmy was sitting looking down at the floor.

Johnny sat down first and said, “Hey Jimmy, how’re you doing? We noticed you over here by yourself. Are you doing ok?” “No! I’m not!” he answered with a sniffle. “My camera & I almost got Mr. Christopherson killed by that bear and put all of the rest of you in danger…all because I wanted some footage of those cute little cubs and wouldn’t listen to anyone. Boy am I dumb! Two times in one day I did something dumb and I just feel awful. Do you think everyone will ever forgive me?”

Johnny took one look at Susie & then screwed up his courage and said, “Well, Jimmy I’m sure that most of the kids will, but you need to think about God too. He’s in the forgiveness business. He’s just about the best person ever at making things new again.” That’s right Jimmy” Susie said. “When I do things that are wrong I need to ask for forgiveness from the person that I hurt and I also need to ask God too.”

Jimmy kind of looked at the floor and said, “I’m not so sure that God could forgive me. I messed up pretty bad today. I was really selfish and thinking only about myself and I didn’t learn from the first time when Mr. Christopherson saved me from the raccoons.”

Andrea took this as her cue to speak up. “Jimmy,” she said “you know, Mr. Christopherson saved your life twice today. He even offered up his own life for yours. Jesus did the same thing for you. He did that for all of us. He offered up His life so that we could all life. Remember when Mr. Christopherson said that he was going to be our shepherd and we were like his sheep and that we should pay attention to his voice?”

Andrea continued, “It says in the Bible in the Gospel of John chapter 15 verse 13 ‘Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.’ That’s what Mr. Christopherson did today. That’s the same thing that Jesus did.”

Jimmy suddenly looked up from the floor, “Wow, he did? Now I feel worse than ever. I don’t know anything about Jesus or God. I’ve know that you kids have something special with him, that’s why I asked you to pray for me today, but…but…”

“But what, Jimmy?” Johnny said. “I’ve been asking you to come to church for a long time, but you always seem to be busy. I wanted you to have the same thing that we have, I wanted you to meet Jesus…and you can too. You can do that anytime or anyplace. You can do that right here and right now if you want.”

Jimmy looked amazed, “you mean that I can meet Jesus right here in this cabin, even after the awful stuff that I did today?” Susie smiled her great big smile and said, “You bet, Jimmy. Right here and right now, if you want to. Do you want to?” Jimmy looked first at Susie, then at Johnny, then at Andrea, at the rest of the kids that were huddled around Mr. Christopherson & Dr. Shaw and then back to Susie again, “you bet I do!”

Johnny spoke up this time, “Jimmy, can we pray with you?” “Yes, please” Jimmy responded, “but I don’t know what to say.” “How about if I lead and you follow?”, offered Johnny. “Ok” said Jimmy with a smile. “Ok, let’s pray”, began Johnny.

“Lord, we’re here with Jimmy, he wants to meet you, he wants to meet Jesus the Good Shepherd. Repeat after me Jimmy…Lord God, please forgive me of my sins and make me your child. Forgive me for the wrong things that I have done and help me to live better. I want Jesus to come into my heart, be my Saviour and save me forever. Amen” Jimmy had been repeating after Johnny and after he said Amen, he looked up at the others and beamed a great big smile. “Wow, I feel a hundred pounds lighter! Thanks you guys! I think that I’ll go and talk to Mr. Christopherson now. I need to ask him to forgive me too.”

Jimmy started coming to Sunday school with Johnny after that, he got his mom and dad to come to church too and after a few weeks, they gave their hearts to the Lord too.


Susie, Johnny and The Good Shepherd – Part 4

After lunch Mr. Christopherson took them on the hike back to the cabin, but on the way they watched for signs of caribou and moose. They had an exciting time and were almost to the edge of the park when they heard a fierce growl and froze in their tracks. They had stumbled on a  mother bear and her cubs. It seems that they had wandered away from their area and were foraging for berries in the area that the kids & Mr. Christopherson were hiking through to get back to their cabin. Mr. Christopherson and the kids were on the hiking path, the cubs were on the south side of the path and the mother bear was on the north. She was viewing them as a threat to her cubs and was walking toward them and growling very loudly.

Mr. Christopherson quietly told the kids to all stand up straight and tall and begin backing away from the mother bear and move in the direction of the gate in the fence that would lead them to the cabin. All of the children started to do just what they were told. Except Jimmy Barski had his little camera going again and seemed more interested in getting the cubs on film than following Mr. Christopherson’s instructions. He just didn’t seem to hear anyone when the Susie & the other kids kept saying in a loud whisper “Jimmy! Stop filming and come with us!” He just kept moving toward the cubs with his eye on the camera.

The mother bear saw Jimmy and began moving toward him, Mr. Christopherson saw that and got in between them and kept backing up toward Jimmy and trying to get his attention. “Barski! Stop!”, he said loudly and firmly. Jimmy didn’t notice. “Barski! Stop!”, he repeated louder and more firmly. He needed to get Jimmy’s attention without scaring the cubs or making the mother bear more angry. Johnny could see what was happening and began to move in Jimmy’s direction. Both Susie and Andrea saw that and began to move with him. If they could get to Jimmy and pull him away from the cubs, maybe the mother bear would leave them alone.

Just as Johnny, Susie and Andrea were getting close to Jimmy, Mr. Christopherson glanced at them & saw what they were trying to do and said to them in a loud whisper “get him out of here!”. Johnny was finally within reach of Jimmy and grabbed his backpack. Jimmy hollered “what are you doing?”. The cubs got frightened by Jimmy’s yelling and scattered into the woods. The mother bear had had enough of this, stood up on her back legs and went for Jimmy who was now being dragged backward by Johnny, Susie & Andrea. Mr. Christopherson saw that and again got between Jimmy and the bear in an effort to keep him or any of the kids from getting attacked by the bear.

“Run…GO TO THE CABIN!!” he shouted and all of the kids, including the loudly protesting Jimmy (who was still being dragged by our friends) ran as fast as they could toward the fence at the edge of the park. Susie looked back at Mr. Christopherson and could see the bear lunging toward him. Mr. Christopherson had his knife out and was still yelling for the kids to run as fast as they could.

All the children ran as fast as they could, Susie kept turning to look at Mr. Christopherson and the bear as long as she could. Eventually, the trail wound its way through the woods to the gate in the fence and she could no longer see them. Johnny was still holding onto Jimmy and Andrea was leading the rest of the kids to the cabin. Once they were all inside, Susie found the phone and called 911. The 911 operator called the county sheriff’s office and the park office. The sheriff’s office sent out two cars and an animal control officer to the cabin because that was the quickest way to get to that area of the park.

While all of this was going on, Mr. Christopherson was quickly moving around like a boxer trying to avoid the bear. But, the bear was steadily getting closer and closer because it could walk forward faster than Mr. Christopherson could back up over the uneven ground. He kept tripping over branches and rocks on the ground.

Finally the bear was almost close enough to take a swipe at him when he heard a muffled “POP” and a thud followed by another muffled “POP” and another thud. He couldn’t see where that strange noise was coming from but it seemed to come from behind the bear. Besides, he had more pressing things to think about. Then he tripped over another branch and the bear began to lean toward him and then the bear seemed to lunge for him. All Mr. Christopherson could do was to try to roll away from the bear, so he quickly rolled over three times to his right and the bear landed flat on her face and seemed to try to get back up again only to fall flat once again.

Mr. Christopherson got up to his feet and stared at the bear and wondered what had happened when he heard a voice say, “Look’s like we got here just in time!” It was one of the park veterinarians named Lucy Shaw. “We have been looking all over for Abigail and her cubs. She wanders off once in awhile, so we have a GPS locater attached to her. Normally she comes back willingly but with the cubs she sometimes gets a little testy.” “Wow! Am I glad you were tracking her! I just wish you had gotten here a little sooner. I thought that I was a goner. I just barely got the kids out of here & got her to go for me instead of them.” “Mr. Christopherson, we are very sorry that this happened. We will get her and the cubs into a contained area so this won’t happen again. We may have to release her and her cubs back into the wild because of this. We can’t have anyone in any danger at all. It’s not good for this park to have that happen.”


Susie, Johnny and The Good Shepherd – Part 3

The rest of the morning went just wonderfully, no one tried to get too close and then it was time to go on the tram to make the trip around the whole park. They were going to eat lunch after that.

At least that was the plan. While they were on the tram, the driver’s radio became alive with excited conversation. Susie, Johnny and Andrea were all sitting up in the front of the tram near the driver and Mr. Christopherson. It was hard to understand some of the conversation, but they did catch instructions to the driver to take the children to the far end of the park near where the moose and caribou exhibit.

“Mr. Christopherson” Susie said, “what is going on?”

“I’m not sure yet Susie”, he responded. “I think that there is some sort of emergency at the park office. We have been directed to head to a spot between the moose and caribou exhibits; which is fine because we were headed there anyway.” Mr. Christopherson hesitated for a moment and then turned and looked at Susie, Johnny and Andrea. “You kids know me as a teacher, but, you also know me as a Christian because we go to the same church. I want to ask you kids to pray for us. I don’t know exactly what is going on. My primary job here is to be your teacher; but, next to that, it is also my job to keep you all safe. Please pray that God will keep us all safe, ok?” Mr. Christopherson stood up and announced to everyone that they should probably eat their lunch now and then turned toward the driver so that he could talk to him and hear what was being said on the radio.

The heads of all three kids nodded and they huddled together to pray. Johnny started out, “Lord, Jesus, you know everything and are stronger and more powerful than anything else in the universe. Lord, please keep us safe from whatever is going on in this park today.” “And help us to helpful to Mr. Christopherson in whatever way we can” added Andrea. Susie followed with “Lord Jesus, help us to be your servants today. Help us also to be servants to Mr. Christopherson and all of the other kids in our class. Help other people to see you in us as we serve. In Jesus name we pray” and they all said together “Amen!”

Now Jimmy Barski had been sitting right behind Johnny watched them praying. He reached up and touched Johnny on the shoulder and got Johnny to turn around. When Johnny turned around to talk to him, Jimmy asked “Hey, what were you guys just doing?” Johnny smiled and said, “We were praying, Jimmy. We were asking God to watch over us and protect us just in case something bad is happening in the park.” Jimmy looked thoughtfully at Johnny for a minute, looked around and said in almost a whisper, “Can you pray for me too? I’m kind of scared. That thing with the raccoon kind of shook me up and…and…” Johnny looked at Susie who had also turned around by now and they both looked back at Jimmy and said, “You bet Jimmy, we’d love to pray for you.” Susie leaned over with Johnny grabbed Andrea’s hand as well. Johnny started out “Lord, it’s us again; we’d like to ask you for something special. Jimmy here is feeling the same way that we all are. We’re probably all afraid that something bad is happening and we’d like to ask you again to watch over us all, but especially touch Jimmy, Lord so that he knows for sure that you love him and are watching out for him. If there is anything that we can say or do, that can help Jimmy to get to know you better, just let us know. Thank you Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

Jimmy looked at Johnny & then at Susie & then at Andrea & then back at Johnny and said, “You guys have something special going with God, don’t you?” Susie perked up and said quickly, “We sure do, Jimmy. Would you like to hear about it?” Jimmy hesitated and, while he was thinking up his answer, the tram radio started squawking again. “Well, yes I….” began Jimmy.

Mr. Christopherson suddenly stood up and made an announcement, “Ok, guys and gals, it turns out that one of the hawks had gotten into the reptile area and was going after one of their prize snakes. So they shut everything down while they captured the hawk. We are free to continue our tour from here, so let’s take some time to finish our lunch and then we’ll check out the moose and the caribou as long as we are here. After that, we’ll hike back to our cabin along one of the nature trails and study whatever we see along the way.

When Johnny & Susie turned back around to Jimmy, he was busy eating his lunch and talking to the person behind him. Disappointed, they opened up their backpacks and started in on their lunches as well.

“I sure hope that we can get a chance to talk to him again, Johnny” said Susie while thoughtfully munching on a pickle. Johnny was nodding while he was chewing a big mouthful of his sandwich. After he swallowed, he looked at Susie and Andrea and suggested that they individually pray for an opportunity for them to talk to him. Johnny had been inviting Jimmy to church for a couple of months now and he always had some sort of excuse. This was the first time that he had really seemed interested in God. They each nodded and prayed while they finished their lunches.


Susie, Johnny and The Good Shepherd – Part 2

They stopped at the park campground first. The children tumbled out of the bus and rushed into the cabin and found it to be a large, rustic log cabin with a large open area that contained a well equipped kitchen, a large dining table and living area with lots of couches and chairs that faced a huge stone fireplace.

The cabin was rustic but, it had all the modern comforts and was well furnished and would be very warm once they got a fire going. There was a long hallway and the boys were in one of the dormitory style rooms on the left and the girls were in another on the right. Mr. Christopherson had a small room to himself on the left at the head of the hallway. The bathrooms were at the far end.

After loud claims of “top bunk”, “bottom bunk” and “hey…I called it first”, Mr. Christopherson settled a couple of disputes, told them to put their stuff on their bunks and then announced that they all needed to grab their backpacks and get back on the bus. They still had a full day of learning and exploring ahead of them at the wildlife preserve. So, back on the bus they went now calling for seats instead of beds. Mr. Christopherson got on last and called out loudly, “Ok, everyone sit down and count off starting with you Johnny” Johnny called out loudly, “One!” and then Susie cheerfully called out “Two!” Andrea was three and so on down the line it went until they reached 27. “Ok, we’ve got everyone, let’s go Mr. Mackey.” The bus started up with a bit of a lurch and off they went to the Cascades Wild Life Animal Preserve and Park.

Once they arrived at the wildlife preserve the day was full of activities. They first went to see the wetland animals and got to see beavers, otters and raccoons. The boys like to watch the beavers cutting down trees with their teeth and building a dam, the girls like to watch the otters swim on their backs with their babies on their stomachs. Everyone was surprised to learn that Raccoons liked to get their food wet before they eat it so that they could feel it better with their fingers. Once Jimmy Barski was getting too close to a Raccoon while he was trying to take some video with a small hand held video camera (you see Jimmy’s father is TV a cameraman) and Jimmy didn’t realize that the raccoon was backing up into the opening of a hollow log and beginning to show it’s teeth. Mr. Christopherson yelled out, “Barski! Stop!” Jimmy didn’t stop immediately so Mr. Christopherson had to yell out a second time, “Barski! Freeze!” The second time, Jimmy stopped and turned to look at Mr. Christopherson with a confused look on his face. Then Mr. Christopherson said quietly and evenly, “now back up, slowly until I tell you to stop.” Jimmy did that and then when Mr. Christopherson told him to stop, he did. At that point Mr. Christopherson ran over to Jimmy and put his hand on Jimmy’s shoulder and guided him back to the group. He then squatted down in front of Jimmy so that he could look at him eye to eye. Then he said, “Jimmy, I know that you were just trying to take a good picture. There is nothing, in the world, wrong with that. What you didn’t realize was that you were backing that mother into the stump where she was hiding her babies. She was beginning to show some aggressive signs and in another moment or two, she might have bitten you very hard. If she went after your hands, you could lose a finger. Please do not, ever get that close to a wild animal again. You scared me halfway to next Tuesday.” And with that, Mr. Christopherson put his hands on Jimmy’s shoulders to steady him because, now Jimmy was beginning to feel a little wobbly and needed some help to stand up. He thanked Mr. Christopherson and, feeling stronger, he walked back over to where the rest of the boys were standing. They crowded around him and they all began talking excitedly.

Mr. Christopherson stood up and spoke loud enough for us all to hear. “Listen up everyone; I am responsible for each and every one of you. Just like that raccoon was protecting her young; I am trying to protect all of you. Let’s pretend that, for the rest of this trip, you are my sheep and I am your shepherd. It is my job to keep all of you safe and get you back home to your parents safe and a little more knowledgeable about the world around you. Ok?”


Susie, Johnny and The Good Shepherd

Susie, Johnny and the Good Shepherd

by: S.C. Mathisen

Not so very long ago and not so very far away, Susie and Johnny were getting ready to go back to school after their Spring break. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in early spring with just a few high clouds, a temperature that made them begin to think about taking their coats off. This afternoon they had decided to take Susie’s little brother Stanley to the park so that he could play on the big toys. They were sitting on a bench, under a tree next to the playground where Stanley was playing with some other children.

They are talking about an overnight field trip to the Cascades Wild Life Animal Preserve and Park…with Mr. Christopherson who not only was their teacher, but also was someone from their church.

Johnny begins, “I just can’t wait until we go on that field trip tomorrow, Susie. I have never been to a place where the animals weren’t kept in some sort of cage.”

Then Susie said, “Neither have I Johnny, when I talked to my parents about it, they were excited too. They both grew up in Africa with all of the animals roaming free. But, they didn’t know about this park. They both told me to be very careful.”

Johnny chimed in with, “I just can’t wait to see all the animals. I heard that they have grizzlies, black bears, wolves, bobcats, lynx, cougars, owls, eagles and wetland animals. And they are all in their natural surroundings!”

“I think that Mr. Christopherson called their surroundings a habitat, Johnny,” Susie responded.

“That’s right, Susie.” Johnny said thoughtfully. “Mr. Christopherson also said that we would get to ride on special little trains….trams he called them.”

Just then their friend Andrea walked up and sat down with them and said, “I’m looking forward to the special hiking trails. Mr. Christopherson said that he was going tell us a lot about the natural history of the Northwest while we are there.”

“That’s right”, said Susie, “he is going to talk about the habitat of each animal and how they fit into the eco-system. I am going to try to sketch each animal we study and put together a notebook like Audubon did. I have been working hard on my sketching and am really excited to be able to sketch some live animals.”

Johnny was beginning to feel a bit left out and said, “I am also really looking forward to camping out at the campground at the state park next to the wild life park. We’ll be able to hear the jungle animals at night just like we were in Africa!”

The next morning found them at the school saying their goodbyes to their parents and loading onto a school bus and heading south for their field trip.

The school bus was full of happy, talking kids that were looking forward to a great adventure. Mr. Christopherson stood up at the front of the bus with a microphone to make a few announcements. He was a tall, muscular man with light, sandy colored hair, blue eyes and a voice that…seemed to command respect. “All right, you guys let’s hush up for a few minutes so I can remind you about the rules for this trip. Number 1: Always obey whatever I tell you to do…immediately. We are going to be in a wildlife preserve NOT a zoo. The animals are wild and roaming free. We need to respect that. If I feel that you are putting yourself or someone else in any danger, I will stop you. Now, since I cannot be everywhere at once, you need to listen for the sound of my voice. You all know what I sound like by now. Please pay attention and heed me if I call out to you, especially if I tell you to stop and freeze. Do you all understand me?” There was silence until a small voice from the back of the bus said, “Sir, yes sir…ummm…what are the other rules?” Laughter erupted amongst all the kids on the bus and then Mr. Christopherson chuckled and replied, “There is only one more rule. Rule number two: Obey rule number 1.” The kids started laughing again and Mr. Christopherson said, “…one and one more thing – HAVE FUN!!” With that, he began laughing loudly and sat down to enjoy the rest of the trip.