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.