Scripture: Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39
- Students will learn nothing is impossible for God if it is in His will.
- Students will learn God wants us to appreciate the tremendous blessings He has given us.
- Students will learn God wants us to tell everyone what He has done for us.
- Students will learn how to respect others who may be different than them.
Guiding Question: How can respecting and caring for those who are different than us reflect God’s love?
Materials: Anchor chart paper, markers, panel of guest speakers
Procedure: Review the story of the Demon Possessed Man from the scriptures above. Emphasize that Jesus loved people who were different in ways that often made the people of their time frightened or uncomfortable. Tell the students that often children may avoid interacting in loving ways with children their age who are different in some way too. Theses differences might include special needs, different appearance, speak differently, etc. Remind students that these children want to be respected and have friends just like they do. It is important to remember to love those who are different just the same as we love others because that is what God does for all of His children.
Invite in a panel of adults who were “different” as kids and perhaps still today. (These could be people in your congregation or people you know outside of church that could volunteer) Have them share how it felt to be rejected, teased, etc. Also have them share with the students the facts and misconceptions of their differences that caused them to be rejected (example: If they are paralyzed, students can’t “catch” it from them like a cold. So it’s not “dangerous” to touch them. However, there are certain things they need to know to keep the person in the wheelchair safe when they do interact with them.) Have them also teach students how to ask respectful questions when someone is a different in a way they don’t understand and that lack of knowledge causes them anxiety.
After the sharing, end with an anchor chart of strategies the students can use when they meet someone their age who is different to reflect God’s love accurately. Email a copy later in the week to the students’ parents.
Additional Questions: How can familiarity with differences help better understand differences in other people?
Supplemental Activity: Have the students participate in several activities where they get a small glimpse of what life would be like with differences others have. Students can wear ear plugs and try to have a conversation, wear a blindfold and walk to certain places in the room, etc. Have a discussion about how they would want others to treat if they had those differences.