CHILD-LIKE FAITH AND THE DANGERS OF ABUSING IT

 Do all Christian denominations teach the gospel? I learned from personal experience that some don’t. In fact, nobody at the Anglican and Lutheran churches taught me the way of salvation. I first heard it clearly in 1969 when I gave my life to Christ at a non-denominational Vacation Bible School. Had it not been for one saint and her desire to share The Way to heaven, I might still be ignorantly believing that all it takes to obtain eternal life is to be nice.
 
From Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), here’s an excerpt showing how little Sunday school teachers taught me. It’s a bit long but please scroll down and read it all the way through.
 
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Since Jericho had no chapels or other religious facilities, volunteers from surrounding congregations drove us to their churches. On my first Sunday morning in Jericho, I expected to play all day. My family were nominally Christian but we rarely attended
a place of worship.
 
“Which church do you belong to?” Mrs. Sandyford, our pleasant-voiced weekend supervisor, asked me that first Sunday. 
 
“Lutheran,” I answered. Since no volunteer drivers came from that denomination, I, and a few other boys, were driven to Saint Helen’s Anglican Church.
 
This building, with its stained glass windows and carved oak pews, was fancier than the Lutheran Church in Fort Saskatchewan. In front of me was a light brown kneeling pad, a piece of furniture I had never seen at my home church. I thought it was a foot rest until a
congregant rebuked me.
 
The woman who drove us to church strictly commanded us to sit still throughout our time with the adults. Even swinging one’s feet was grounds for a sharp whispered admonition.  

Usually, the congregation sung a few hymns, the words of which were totally incomprehensible to me, and then the minister gave a homily. I enjoyed that part of the service, especially the story featuring a donkey who knew how to count to seven and refused to work on the Lord’s Day. After more hymns were sung, the minister dismissed and sent us downstairs to Sunday School. 
 
I became an enthusiastic student of the Bible lessons. One Sunday, I shamed some sighted boys by knowing the answers regarding Moses and how he led the Children of Israel out of Egypt. 

After the lesson, we played with red, yellow, and blue play dough. Occasionally, we would draw pictures and make objects out of pipe cleaners. I thought it was a shame to stuff those soft colourful rods into such a filthy object as a pipe. Though I had only seen Dad smoke cigarettes and people on television smoking cigars, I imagined a pipe to be as filthy as an ashtray. 
 
Someone rang a small bell at the end of the class. Our teachers told us to stand outside the cubicles, where we had been studying or playing. The Sunday School leader then led us in a prayer about God blessing us and helping us be good so we could go to heaven.
 
Occasionally, we recited complex passages like the Lord’s Prayer or the Apostle’s Creed. I liked the line about Christ rising on the third day but most of the other words appeared to be mumbo jumbo filler. I also believed that saying the words in their exact order
would get me in God’s good book. Since I had no desire to burn in hell forever, I conscientiously recited what I was taught.
 
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Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. Click here to read more about this book and to order it.

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Author: bruce Atchison - author

I'm a legally-blind freelance writer as well as the author of three memoirs and scores of articles. Contact me for details.

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