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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Where Seldom is Heard

Many years ago, a Roman Catholic nun was teaching a math class at a junior high school in Minnesota. Not pleased with the way things were going, she interrupted class one day and asked the students in the room to take out two sheets of paper and list the names of the other students present. Then, she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each classmate and write it down. The assignment took up the remaining period of the class, but the students turned their papers in and departed.

Over the weekend, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on an individual sheet of paper, and listed the things other students had said about that person. The following Monday, she gave each student his or her appropriate list. The kids were very pleased and encouraged. The teacher noticed an immediate improvement in atmosphere for class.

The teacher’s mission had been accomplished. Consequently, she never mentioned it again.

Many years passed, and one of her students, a young man named Mark, was killed in the Vietnam War. His body was brought home for the funeral.

The teacher attended the funeral as well as many of the young man’s classmates. Afterwards, the teacher and many of the classmates were invited to the house of Mark’s parents.

While there, Mark’s parents approached the teacher and said, “We want to show you something. Mark was carrying this when he was killed.” Out of his wallet, Mark’s father pulled the list of all the good things that Mark’s classmates had said about him. Mark’s mother told her, “Thank you so much for doing that. As you can see, Mark treasured it.”

Seeing what was happening in hearing the exchange, a group of Mark’s classmates approached. One smiled and said, “I still have my list and it is in my top desk drawer at home.” Another classmate said, “I have mine, too. It is in my diary.” Classmate after classmate shared of how they still had their sheets of affirmation.

All this was too much for the nun. She sat down and began to weep, moved by the realization that the seemingly, small exercise had made an impact on so many people for so many years.

Perhaps we underestimate the value of encouragement. The NIV contains over 58 references to the word “encouragement.” God understands its value and need; we should as well.

1 comment:

  1. I love this story. We all need encouragement daily to get through our days. Some days are tougher than others. Thank you for reminding me that the smallest word of encouragement or comfort can go so far.