by Diana Fish—
This time of year, when I’m with my students in the Junior Sabbath School class I teach at Holbrook Indian School (HIS), I like to ask the question, “What do you think of when you hear the name Ebenezer Scrooge?” If they know who he is, they often say, “Humbug!” “He hates Christmas.” “He is a stingy old miser!” They never seem to remember the end of the story when Scrooge is a changed man—born again, if you will.
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!” This is the conclusion that we all seem to forget. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol demonstrates how Ebenezer Scrooge responded to God’s love and mercy in giving him a second chance.
At HIS, we seek to help our students see themselves in the light of God’s love for them—a love that stays the same, regardless of the harmful choices they’ve made or the horrific things that have happened to them. Often, our students are weighed down with past regrets, wounds caused by people who were supposed to be looking out for their best interest, and broken hearts caused by abandonment whether by choice or because of an early death.
But there is hope! When our students open their hearts to the possibilities of a loving God who created them with a purpose, a change begins to happen. When they begin to see themselves through the eyes of our merciful Creator who truly wants what is best for them, they begin to come to life. It is a miraculous thing to witness.
No student has impacted me more than Quentina, who came to Holbrook as a fifth grader. She was a wild child—some might even say feral. Once I tried to take a group picture of the elementary class with our principal, Mr. Ojeda. She was everywhere: under the table, behind the students, jumping back and forth. I couldn’t get a good shot with her in it. Then in the last picture, there she was in all her glory: a big blur leaping right in front of Mr. Ojeda and all of the students.
She once yelled at the teacher who was trying to help her, “Just give me an F!” Trips to the principal’s office were a daily thing. However, over the four years she’s been at HIS, a transformation has taken place. She is now on the honor roll and cares very much about her grades. She loves to read. She dreams of going into law enforcement so she can help people. And recently, she was baptized. When asked why she made the decision to follow Jesus, she said it is because she wants to help her family.
Like Ebenezer Scrooge, Quentina experienced rebirth. She doesn’t fully understand what that means yet, but she is truly a new creation. “Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV). She has responded to our God of second chances.
Quentina is why we keep doing what we do at HIS. When we see her, we are filled with a renewed sense of purpose. Many of our students do not respond the way she has—it can be terribly discouraging when we see our students reject what God has to offer them. But then we remember the end of the story. In the famous last words of A Christmas Carol, “God bless Us, Every One!”
Diana Fish is the development director at Holbrook Indian School in Holbrook, Arizona.