presents The Boy from Brooklyn series
(a true story)
Lesson 2: Johnny’s Heavenly Father Watches Over Him
One evening Johnny and his brother and sister crowded around the window in their third floor apartment in Brooklyn. They were waiting for Mom and Dad to come home.
Down below they saw the people on the sidewalk scurrying home. The man who lived next door hurried into his doorway. Everyone said that he had just gotten out of jail. On the corner there were some big boys hanging out. Johnny knew what they were doing. They were waiting for the man who sold drugs to come by.
Johnny had no desire to take drugs, drink alcohol or do some of the other things that were happening in the neighborhood. Ever since he had gone to Bible club a few summers ago and had trusted Jesus as His Savior he didn’t want to get mixed up with the gangs.
Although for some reason he could not return to the church where he attended Bible club, God was still looking after Johnny. He did not know that when a person believes on Jesus as his Savior, God’s Holy Spirit comes to live in that person. The Holy Spirit helps us to obey God and live to please Him, and He was doing that for Johnny.
One day Johnny went to Mr. George, the man who owned the fruitstand down the street. A long time ago he had stolen an apple from the fruitstand. He asked if he could work for him. And Mr. George said, “Yes.” Mr. George could see that Johnny had changed.
Johnny swept the sidewalk around the stand, filled the fruit boxes and helped the customers. He felt good that he had told Mr. George that he was sorry for stealing. Mr. George even paid Johnny some money for working for him.
Later, he was able to work for Mr. Henry cleaning washing machines in his laundromat. God was helping Johnny to be honest and Mr. Henry trusted him.
He was always happy to get some money so he could go down to the thrift store and buy a shirt or some shoes. Johnny’s parents didn’t have much money so they couldn’t buy many clothes for the children.
Johnny had to work at home, too, along with his brothers and sister. Dad gave everyone a list of chores to do after school. They had to wash the dishes, sweep the floor or clean the windows.
Sometimes Johnny thought, “This isn’t fair. Why do I have to work when my friends can play outside on the streets till it gets dark?”
But one day many years later after Johnny had left home, he called his Dad and said, “I’m sorry for having a bad attitude when I had to help at home. Thanks, Dad, for teaching us kids to work and to help others.”
You see, Johnny learned that we are all part of a family. Growing up includes learning to help our parents and be kind to our brothers and sisters. Everyone needs to learn to work and be responsible. Being responsible means that we think about others as well as ourselves.
But life was not all work. There were many fun times as well. When Johnny was younger he played marbles or tag or hopscotch on the street. On Saturdays he went to the library to hear the story lady read Dr. Seuss books or to see a children’s movie.
When he got older the boys sometimes played stick ball. They used a sawed off broom stick instead of a baseball bat. Cars were parked all along both sides of the street. They touched the fenders for the bases. When a car came down the narrow street they had to dash out of the way. (And if the ball broke someone’s window, all the boys would run as fast as they could!)
By the time Johnny was in middle school he and his older brother and sister were allowed to go places by themselves. His brother and sister were twins and just one year older than Johnny so they did everything together.
In the summer they would hop on a subway train and ride to Coney Island! They got on one of the cars and then raced to the very front car. From there they could see the other trains as they whizzed by. The trains zoomed through the underground tunnels and over the bridges made especially for trains.
Coney Island was an amusement park. During the summer on a Saturday, thousands of people crowded the park. Children held tightly to their parents hands so they wouldn’t get lost. But Johnny and the twins weren’t afraid – they just ran from one interesting thing to another. They rode the Ferris wheel and the bumper cars. They looked at the interesting side shows. They ate juicy hot dogs and slurped refreshing ice-cream cones. All too soon it was time to ride the subway back home.
One day one of the kids in the neighborhood told him that his collie dog had puppies. Quickly Johnny counted the money that he had been saving. “Did he have enough?” he wondered.
He ran down the street to see the puppies. One little tan and white puppy looked up at him. “Woof, woof,” he barked in a little puppy voice. Johnny quickly ran home and brought the jar with the money he had been saving. He had enough!
He named the puppy “Sandy.” From that time on he spent a lot of time with Sandy. She quickly learned the tricks that Johnny taught her.
On weekends they would run to the park. Lots of other people were there with their dogs as well.
Sandy was a special gift to Johnny. God used Sandy to protect him and to keep him from getting into trouble with the gangs that roamed the streets.
God had a plan for Johnny’s life. Someday He would lead him far from the streets of New York City. Keep on reading these stories to find out more about what happened.
Click on the Questions link below to do the questions.