Monday, June 18, 2012

Sunday School Teachers - The Unsung Heroes of My Life

I grew up in the Lutheran church.  I say "grew up", because from my earliest remembrances through marriage and child-bearing, I went a Lutheran church. From age 6 through marriage, I attended the beautiful St. James Lutheran Community Church, in Stewart Manor, NY. Truly, some of my fondest childhood memories are centered around our little church - that truly was community.

St. James Lutheran Community Church, Stewart Manor, NY
I had a deep love and respect for God, fostered by Pastor Dietrich. I seriously knew that Jesus Christ died for MY sins and I was ever so grateful. I so desired to read God's Holy Bible, that I made numerous attempts through childhood to read The Book. Not understanding, I thought you had to read it as a book - from beginning to end. But, I always got stuck at Leviticus, so I would put The Book away for awhile.  Eventually, taking it out and starting all over again at Genesis, only to be stopped, again, at Leviticus.

But, what I did get about God's Holy Word was two major things in my life.

In Sunday School at St. James, around the 4th or 5th grade, we had to learn the order of the Books of the Bible - from Genesis to Revelation. Diligently, I studied to memorize the Book orders, via the little tune the teacher taught us. To this very day, I have no trouble finding any Book in the Bible.

Myself, a Bible teacher, I get so frustrated when someone says, "Where is John?"  I'm talking about women who have been in The Word for many, many years. But, it has made me ever so grateful for my 4/5th grade Sunday School teacher who made us learn the Books in order.

The other thing I learned from my childhood years at Sunday School was that Jesus was a miracle-producing God. Little did I know the impact those Bible "stories" would have on my life.

When I was 16, on Christmas Eve, my mother was in the hospital at death's door from Crohn's Disease. The doctor's had told us she would not live through the night. My family went to the Christmas Eve candle-light service. The whole church was crying. Crying because Mary Lou was dying. Even our beloved Pastor Dietrich was weeping.

I was weeping too, but not for the same reason. I was a gasped at the thought that my church family didn't believe Mommy would not die -  Don't they believe in miracles?! 

Well, I sure did! And I prayed accordingly that Christmas Even night.  All the Sunday School Bible "stories" of Jesus' miracles caused faith to abound in my young heart.

And God was faithful.  He produced another miracle that Christmas Eve night. As we arrived home from church, the phone was ringing. It was the hospital saying, "We have no idea what happened, but Mary Lou took a turn for the better and she won't be dying tonight."  She went on to live three more years until I was 19. My mom got to see me graduate high school, meet Joe, and be a part of the beginnings of my "adult" life.

Years later, those same old Bible "stories" I heard as a child produced dunamis (dynamite) power in my life.

When my youngest son, Andrew James, was 17 months old, he dropped dead in my dinning room as he walked across the room. LONG STORY short: another miracle happened that day.

Jesus raised Andrew from the dead.

When the ambulance didn't arrive, I finally lifted up Andrew's lifeless body toward Heaven and commanded three times: In the Name of Jesus Christ, be healed!  (I'm in the process of writing out that whole story now, which includes Andrew's testimony of Heaven.)  Andrew's dead body came back to life.

Where did the faith for me to do that come from?

That was the question of my heart - for a long time afterward.

(At this point, Joe and I were born again.  I was in the process of being healed, delivered, and starting to thrive as a brand new human being.  I diligently studied The Word of God, that I had so longed to understand as a youngster.)

But, I needed to know where the faith for such a powerful miracle to manifest came from. The gift of faith, the working of miracles, and the gift of healing were all in play at that one moment in time to raise Andrew from the dead. Where, Dear God, did my faith for it come from?

Years later, The Holy Spirit spoke the answer to my heart.  Two words = Sunday School.
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. ~ Romans 10:17
Years of attending Sunday School instilled such faith in me to always believe in miracles.  God IS the God of miracles!  I have a sign that attests to my belief in my kitchen that says, "Expect A Miracle!"

Many years ago, I hand wrote: Expect a Miracle! at the top of every page in my Bible.

And I still expect...

...All because of dedicated Sunday School teachers from my childhood.

So, this post is dedicated to Sunday School teachers all over the world. Thank you for persevering in a most-of-the-time thankless job that you volunteer to do! Thank you for teaching our children and grandchildren about Jesus Christ. Thank you for persevering when you don't necessarily see the fruit of your labors!  I assure you this: Someday, even if it is not until that young child becomes an adult, the fruit of the seeds of God's Love, Character, and Word that you sow will be made manifest.  When they need it the most, the "stories" of Jesus will be as real to them as walking on water was to Peter.  And all to your credit!

On the day I walk through Heaven's Gate, I will personally thank all my Sunday School teachers that I had over the years.  For they truly were the foundation of my faith-filled life and the developer of my love for God's Holy Word. The legacy of their teaching gift has been passed on to me and for that I am humbly grateful.

God bless Sunday School teachers!  PLEASE feel free to copy this post and give out to your church's SS teachers to show your appreciation to them.

Because of Him and Unto Him,

This post is linked to Tell Me A Story. Please stop by and read some incredible true stories!


Floyd said...

Awesome... Our God is not bound to the physical realm of this world, He made it, He sustains the very power that allows the cosmos. He is a God of miracles.

Thanks for sharing real life issues and thank you for sharing your faith, real faith.

A great tribute to all who teach the word of God to the little ones... And thanks too for your service, it is a gift from Him.

joy said...

I was so touched by your story and how God answered your faith prayers. You are lucky having sunday school teachers when you as you grow up. ANyway, because I loved reading and we didn't have books at home, but luckily we had a new testament bible. That was my first encounter with the bible. I wondered and there were many questions in my mind while I read the bible, but no one to explain to me about it. There was no one around me who were interested in reading the bible, much explaining or answering my question. BUt, I am glad that God sent people along the way to guide me. Blessings:)

Diane Ronzino said...

Floyd, thank you, for your encouraging, kind words. Thank you for the appreciation. You know, I don't think we can say "thank you" enougth in this lifetime. There are so many people and things to be thankful for. At this stage of my life, I want to thank as many people as I can. So... thank YOU, Floyd. Your influence in the blogging community is powerful and I'm blessed that you come and read mine.

Diane Ronzino said...

Wow, Joy...your hunger for the Truth at any early age is awesome. Wow...and now you share God's Truth so
beautifully. Your life has become an act of worship.

Thank you, Joy, for your part in this blogging community, too! Thank you for sharing The LORD as beautifully as you do!

Veronica Shticks said...

"...I hand wrote: Expect a Miracle! at the top of every page in my Bible." I LOVE that!

Betty said...

Your are right, Sunday school teacher are hero's. It was a faithful Sunday school teacher who invited my husband at 13 to a revival where he got saved. She gave him a bible and it has survived all the moves through the years.

I think you are so right we need to be opening thanking those who have played a role in our lives.


TC Avey said...

Thank you for sharing your faith! Amazing testimony's! Praise God for Sunday School Teachers!

As I get older I value those who taught me as a youth more and more! I am who I am because of those willing to invest in me when I was a child and teen.

Pam said...

Beautiful, Diane. I love that the Holy Spirit was at work in you so young when your life was in so much turmoil all those years. I read a book years ago - true story about a woman whose father was sent off to concentration camps when she was 5 and she and her mother went on and survived the war. No official teaching, but she went to a church on her own as a child and the Holy Spirit spoke into her heart deeply... It was an amazing story. You have many miracles to share, and I'm glad you shared this here. :)

Martha Herden said...

I can't find the right words to start with-except to say THANK YOU! Opening your heart up like this, sharing true Miracles in your life-well its a testament to FAITH.

Faith is not always something we can touch, feel, or completely ever understand it-in short for me Faith is me believing without the questions-almost like taking that
leap of Faith! Having the love of God in my heart and leaning on it!

I too had many Sunday School teachers as I grew up in the Baptist Church and at the age of 17 was blessed to teach a group of older women. Wonder what they thought-here was a Kid in their midst-but none left and we had a joyous time at each class.

After I joined the Catholic Church, I again found myself teaching classes to people who were thinking of becoming Catholic. The basic roots are the same-Loving God, and having FAITH.

Now I sit back in church, seeing a few of those faces still around and my mind wonders back to those days-new faces, lots of questions, and each person finding their Own Way.

What a joyous writing this is Diane. Keep sharing. God has a lot for you to say!

Love, Martha

Lolita said...

What a way to give tribute to the SS teachers.

I am a product of one..... am forever grateful because I came to know the real saving grace of Jesus Christ.

She was shining in the character of Jesus and even when she did not urge me, I asked her to take me to her church (whatever it was) because I noticed something so different in her. It wowed me to go see for myself.

thanks to all SS teachers!

A Joyful Noise said...

Thank you so very much for sharing your tribute to Sunday School teachers, at Tell Me a Story. It is in these classes that we learn about the Bible heros, and that Jesus did miracles and loved the little children. As adults we can still teach the simple truths to others that Jesus is the SAME yesterday, today and forever.

Lolita said...

Praise God, for faith that can move mountains..... that makes us trust and expect miracles.

And most of all, for all those who became the talk and the walk for Jesus.... who shared the gospel, who showed who God is and what we are to Him.

Great miracles God bestowed in your life, Diane. Thanks for sharing this to us.

Expect more miracles!

Diane Ronzino said...

Thank you, Victoria for your comments are always so special to me. Thank you for the blessing of your art. You have touched so many. Keep on Shticking!

Diane Ronzino said...

Aawww...Betty...that is so special about Ace's Bible. Thank God for that SS teacher! If she only knew what a servant's heart he had and all that he has accomplished in God's Kingdom! Someday, she will meet him again and what a reunion that will be!

Thank you, my wise-hearted friend for pouring into so MANY lives - abroad as well is in the U.S. You are one of thos teachers who will not know this side of Heaven how you have influenced lives. I love you, Betty!

Diane Ronzino said...

TC, I love that you used the word "invest". Yes, teachers truly do invest in other's lives. Thank you for sharing that! God bless you!

Diane Ronzino said...

Wow, Pam, if you can remember the name of that book, I'd love to read that. Thank you for sharing that.

You, Pam, are another of God's Vessels of Honor who has influenced many through your writing, your cards, your notes, your prayers! The Kingdom has advanced because of you. Hallelujah! Thank you, Pam, for being in our lives. For touching my life as you have! I love you, my friend!

Diane Ronzino said...

Martha, you are a natural encourager to so many. I praise God that He uses you the way He does. You write and speak to hearts, not heads and you, too, will never know all the lives you have touched.

I think that is so God - that He used you at such a young age to teach others. "And a child shall lead them."

God bless you and thank you for all the love you have poured into MY life! I love you.

Diane Ronzino said...

Precious hearted Lolita, I'm so glad you had a SS teacher invest in your life! Bless God! She should only know the loving, nurturing heart you have; the prayer warrior that you are; the magnificent writer that you are.

Thank you, Lolita, for your encouraging, kind, from God's Heart to our heart writing you do. Thank you for your love and support. You have blessed my life in more ways that I can count.

If we never get to meet this side of Heaven, I've asked our Father for a special meeting in Heaven. I love you, Lolita!

Diane Ronzino said...

Amen to your words, Hazel! He never changes...Hallelujah!

This post bubbled up in my heart, as I had spent a couple of days in prayer asking God to encourage the children's ministry workers in our church.

I even went as far as emailing the present day pastor of St. James Lutheran Church to share the post with him. So far, I've not heard back.

Thank you, Hazel, for your writing and your site that gives us the chance to share such stories! God bless you!

Diane Ronzino said...

I am so grateful for my blogging Circle. Thank you all who take the time to read, but may not comment. I do hope something you read in my posts or comments others have made encourages and inspires you to a greater intimacy with Jesus Christ.

I appreciate you readership! God bless you!

Ann Cocktale said...

This is such a blessing to me! Thank you so much for sharing. I look forward to reading the story of your son's experience.

caryjo said...

I could write and talk to you WAY too long. Both being taught and teaching have built my heart. And the beginning for me was miraculous b/c my parents were not involved in churches AT ALL, and I was the caregiver for my sisters while my parents were at bars, etc., and my only rest time was Sunday. Then they came home one day when I was 12 and said I needed to start going up the street to a Lutheran church... which then led to confirmation. Seed had been planted. And when I headed for real trouble in my late teens, I knew right from wrong b/c of what I had learned. Then, a few months shy of 21, the Lord broke into my life through a Baptist church. Life changed, believe me. I am SO looking forward to seeing Pastor Hultgren in heaven. If it hadn't been for him and his patience with me -- although insisting that I meet the requirements -- and all his encouragement, I have no idea where things would have gone.

Over the past 46 years I've tried to share enough to give others hope. Lots and lots of hope.

Thanks for sharing this. And blessing teachers. I haven't done it officially for almost 30 years, but UNofficially is simply part of my life.

Pam said...

It's called "Goodbye is not forever" by Amy George. I may have a paperback copy around here that I could send you. I have a hardback,but I bought it again to give someone at work and then they returned it to me when they finished it. It is an incredible story...all true autobiography, but it reads like a first person novel in some ways. Beautifully written. I used to say at the time I read it that it was the best book I ever read. So wondrous how God moved. Goes from the time she is 5 to when she is an adult and married.

Pam said...

Thank you for your wonderful words, Diane. That means a lot. You have touched mine greatly too!

Diane Ronzino said...

Ann, thank you for your words. I've been working on Andrew's story for a long time - accuracy is paramount.

I'll be sure to let you guys know.

Thank you for being a part of our Circle.

Diane Ronzino said...

Wow, CaryJo, we have some things in common. Thank you for sharing and I'm sure your reunion with your pastor will be so special in Heaven!

Thank you for being a part of our Circle. I look forward to getting to know you more and more!

Diane Ronzino said...

Thanks, Pam, for your words and info about the book. I think I will see if I can get it for my iBook - digitally. I'll let you know if I can't.

I look forward to reading it!

Lesaya said...

Thanks so much for sharing this with us Diane - what a legacy these teachers carve for us - and our children today!

Diane Ronzino said...

Yes, Lesaya. This post was birthed because I was interceding for our own children's ministry teachers. I wrote it, really, to encourage them. I sure hope it does!

Thank you, Lesaya, for your teaher's heart. I know you have planted seeds upon seeds all over this planet. Thank you for laying down your life for The Word of God to come alive to His children. Truly...thank you!