One of the aspects of my congregation that I love the most is that we are constantly exchange things: food, coupons, clothes, and books. There’s nothing better for a reader like me to walk into church and be handed a new book with a great recommendation.
Which is how I ended up with One Child. It’s the story of a special education teacher who reads about a child in the newspaper and that very child ends up in her classroom. As she struggles to create a relationship with this child with special needs, I have been transported back to my classroom and back to my students, especially the most difficult ones.
I have been reminded of the days that I came home from school exhausted, worn out, and helpless. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how patient or creative I was, there were just some parts of my students’ lives that I didn’t have the power or the control to change. This became particularly real as I read about the home visit that Torey, the teacher in the book, took to Sheila’s house.
As a minister, I needed to read this book. I needed to be reminded of my students and the myriad of students that live in fear and poverty every day. I needed to be reminded that being a church doesn’t mean just gathering together, but going out together into the community and into the messy lives of the people who live near us and whom we encounter in parking lots and on highway exits ramps. People who are living in desperation and need a little hope in the form of someone paying attention to their needs and seeing them as human beings.
I needed to be reminded about my students. I needed to be reminded that there is intense need in this world for hope and love. I needed to be reminded that I, as a minister, and our church can transform the world by seeing differently.