Ministry Resources

Chapter 8: The Big Carnival And The Big Gift

The evening after talking to and praying for Zach,

Eli sat in his room, working away at a homework assignment. It was a Friday evening, but Eli didn’t want to interrupt the special weekend ahead with homework. Putting the pencil eraser to his mouth, Eli paused for a moment as his thoughts erupted with everything that had happened that day.

The T2U. Making friends with Zach. Hoping he might lead Zach to Jesus. Recalling again how God’s Word had promised and provided him the courage to witness. And how the Spirit gave him and Ezri both the words to say to Zach.

Ezri and I make a good team, Eli thought. I think God put us together so we could share with Zach how much he needed help and how much Jesus wanted to help him.

With a satisfied smile and a slight shake of the head to focus himself, Eli returned to and finished up his homework. Saturday, he thought. The carnival weekend at last!

Elijah had promised to take the kids to a county carnival that weekend. A newspaper coupon Elijah had found offered a family admission discount. The carnival ad next to the coupon listed all the fun a family could have: rides, entertainment, hot rods on display (which Eli couldn’t wait to see), homemade crafts for sale, and art displays (which Ezri was excited about).

Saturday morning did not come soon enough for Eli and Ezri. Eli rolled out of bed even before the alarm went off. He quickly got dressed, strapped on his T2U, and headed to the breakfast table. Minutes later, Ezri joined him with her T2U also strapped on. She popped open the refrigerator for some milk and plopped down beside Eli.

Elijah was already outside loading the cooler and some snacks. He wanted to get an early start because the county carnival was nearly two hours away.

In addition to the fun of the carnival, they were going to stop on the way home at an outlet mall where discounts were everywhere.

“How much money did you save up, Eli?” asked Ezri.

“Fifty-two dollars,” replied Eli. “Should be just enough to get that telescope I saw last time.”

“Only fifty-two? I’ve got loads more than that,” said Ezri proudly.

“Whatever,” retorted Eli. “You just don’t ever spend your money on anything. That’s the only reason you have more money than me. At least I have fun with my money!”

Ezri narrowed her eyes. This was an old argument between the two twins. She liked saving hers up until she found the perfect item at the perfect price. Eli rarely saved up much money, unless he found something he really wanted. Otherwise he just spent his money as he got it—often on things he later regretted spending money on.

“Peace!” said Elijah coming into the house. The twins sat back quietly and dropped their little argument. After all, who really wanted to argue when they had such a fun day ahead? At last the carnival was in sight. The large Ferris wheel soared high in the sky and was the first glimpse of the fair the twins could see as they drove up. The crowd was large too, so Elijah had to park several blocks away. He found a church that was selling parking spots. Some teens standing along the street held signs that read, “PARKING $5. Fundraiser for Missions Trip.” So Elijah pulled in, handed a teen a five dollar bill, and parked the car.

Eli and Ezri bounced out of the back seat and joined hands with their dad. Together they made their way along the long, crowded sidewalk toward the carnival. The closer they got, the more they could hear the yells of people riding the rides and the smells of food flooding the air.

“Ah, there’s nothing like a good carnival,” said Elijah. He breathed deeply and patted his chest. “Mmmm. Smell the popcorn, kids?”

“I love the foot-long corndogs the best,” said Ezri.

“I think my favorite is the cold root beer they sell in pint jugs,” added Eli. “I think I could down a whole one myself.”

The day was more fun than Eli and Ezri imagined. The rides were better than they remembered. Ezri got to see more art displays than she could have dreamed, including some from students at colleges around the state. And Eli got to sit in several of the hotrods. One car owner even let Eli rev up the car.

After several hours, Elijah finally declared, “Time to go!” Sadly yet obediently, both kids walked with their dad toward the exit gate. “Cheer up!” said Elijah to his kids. “We’ve got just enough time to stop by the outlet mall.”

“Oh yeah!” shouted Eli. “I almost forgot! I can’t wait to get that telescope. Can we go out into the country next weekend so I can do some stargazing? Please Dad?”

“We’ll see what we can do,” replied Elijah. “Although you know we won’t be able to go all the time.”

“I know,” said Eli. “But even so, I want to get the telescope. I always feel so close to God when I look at stars. They’re incredible—and to think He made them just blows my mind. And with all this new stuff coming from the T2U, I’m even more excited to see His stars.”

The three continued to discuss stars and how God created so many wonders as they walked the two blocks back to their car. They were about half a block from the church where they had parked when they noticed a lady sitting on the church steps with a baby in her arms.

Eli had so much fun that day he had nearly forgotten about his T2U. Until it began to glow and vibrate on Eli’s wrist, that is. Eli quickly glanced down. At his side, Ezri did the same thing. Simultaneously, as if they were the same person, they both lifted their left arms and with their right hands pushed the buttons of their T2U’s. As the covers sprang open, Eli and Ezri read the message on their screens:

Deuteronomy 15:11: ‘There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward … the poor and needy in your land.’”

“Father, look here,” Ezri motioned to her dad. Elijah glanced down and read the message. “What does it mean?”

“I’m not sure, honey, but I’m sure the Lord will show us.”

As they continued walking to the car, they saw a man dressed in a suit walk down the steep steps of the church. He stooped over and began to talk to the woman sitting on the church steps. Eli jumped with surprise when sound poured out of his T2U speakers: “Lady, I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to leave.”

“Please, sir, we have no place to stay tonight,” a sweet, sad voice came out of T2U. Eli, Ezri, and Elijah all realized the words coming from the T2U speakers were those of the woman sitting on the steps several feet away.

“Ma’am, you must leave right now,” blared the T2U speakers. The man stooped over the woman and grabbed her by the arm.

“I said I can’t leave. I’ve got to get some money. Can’t you give me some cash from the pot of money those teenagers have?” asked the woman, pointing to the cash bucket the teens had filled by selling parking spaces.

“No. I said you must leave now.”

“Hurry, Father,” began Ezri, “we must do something!”

Suddenly the screens of the T2U’s filled with 3D video images. A man was journeying along a rough road. Thieves appeared and beat and robbed the man. Eli and Ezri stared as the story unfolded, their dad watching over their shoulders. A man dressed in ceremonial robes appeared. He saw the wounded man and darted to the other side of the road to avoid him. “A Jewish Priest,” breathed Elijah as he watched the scene unfold.

As Eli glanced up to look at the woman on the steps, he saw the nicely dressed man walk away. The woman began to cry bitterly, “Won’t you please help me?”

The T2U then showed another man approach the wounded man. This new man immediately knelt down at the side of the beaten man and began to doctor the injured man’s wounds.

“Isn’t that the story of the Good Samaritan?” asked Ezri.

“I believe you’re right,” said Elijah. “Luke10:30-37 I believe.”

As the video image faded, the words scrolled across the screens again:

“I command you to be openhanded toward … the poor and needy in your land.”

Elijah, Ezri, and Eli quickly came to the steps of the church and immediately stopped to talk to the crying lady. “Ma’am,” began Elijah, “what can we do to help?”

“My baby has had no food for two days. She’s starving. And I have no place to live. Those people here,” she pointed to the nicely dressed man who had rejected her, “call themselves Christians, but they’re nothing but a bunch of hypocrites.”

“Ma’am, are you from around here?” asked Elijah. “No. My old man brought me here to the carnival but spent all our money on booze. Then he dumped me!” She began to sob. “Now I have no money, no place to stay, and I need help.”

Eli thought about the money he had saved over the past several months. He thought about the nice telescope he wanted to buy. And then he thought about the words the Spirit of the Lord had sent him through the T2U: “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward … the poor and needy in your land.”

Eli slowly reached into his back pocket and felt for his wallet. He paused, then quickly grabbed the wallet firmly and pulled it from his back pocket.

“Ma’am, I’ve been saving this money for a special occasion,” Eli said. “I want you to have it … please.”

The sobbing lady removed one hand from underneath the baby she held and wiped her eyes then her nose with her dirty, torn sleeve. “I … I can’t take your money, young man.”

“No. I insist,” Eli continued. “Remember, I said I have been saving it for a special occasion. And God just told me that you’re the special occasion. You’re the special one in His eyes. Please take it!”

The lady hesitated.

“It’s okay ma’am,” said Elijah. “My boy is right. Take the money. In fact, here’s some I’ve been saving for a special occasion too.”

Elijah handed her two $50 bills. Ezri already had money in hand that she had removed from her small purse to give the lady. “And here’s some more from the Lord for you.”

“I … I don’t know what to say,” the woman said softly as she looked down at the ground.

“You needn’t say a thing, ma’am,” said Elijah. “Just be thankful the Lord provided … and that two children obeyed what God told them to do.”

Soon after, as Elijah, Ezri, and Eli drove down the road that afternoon, Ezri told their dad she didn’t mind if they just skipped going to the mall—after all, they had no money to spend any ways. “Besides,” she added, “I just received the best gift in the world I could ever have.”

“Yeah!” agreed Eli. “And I don’t really need a new telescope. Instead of looking at the stars through a telescope, I’ll just look at the earth from space, using my T2U!” The three laughed as Elijah turned the car to head home.

Let’s Talk

  1. Eli, Ezri, and Elijah had the opportunity to help someone in need. Can you recall a time you were about to help someone in need?
  2. Imagine you were in this story and that you were Eli or Ezri. Do you think you would have given your money that you saved up to someone else?
  3. Sometimes God wants us to do BIG things for Him, like give up something we want to help someone else in need. And sometimes God wants us to do little things for Him, like being a friend to a lonely kid at school. Can you think of a way we could do something together that would help someone in need? Who in your school do you know that you could help and show kindness and friendship to?
  4. Did God speak to you in any particular way when we were reading this story?
  5. Let’s pray that we can be like Jesus and help others who are in need. Do you have anything else you’d like to pray about? Proverbs 28:27: “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses” (NIV).
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