presents The Boy from Brooklyn series
(a true story)
Lesson 1: Johnny Hears the Good News
Johnny sat on the front porch of the three-story apartment building where he lived with his Mom and Dad and his sister and two brothers. He watched the kids chasing a ball in the street as they dodged the cars that whizzed by. Other kids played marbles on the sidewalk. Mothers pushed their baby carriages as they went to do their shopping. They talked in many languages: English, Spanish, Italian and German.
Johnny wanted to go and play in the park but his Mom said, “No, not until you are older. Then you can go by yourself.”
Johnny loved to go to Prospect Park, one of the most beautiful places in Brooklyn, New York. He loved the shade of the tall trees, the birds singing and the flowers along the paths. Best of all, he loved to run in the grass and watch the people walking their dogs and playing with their children.
He didn’t think much about who made the trees and the flowers, the birds and the animals and all the billions of people that live on this earth. God’s Word, the Bible, says,
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
A few days later, Dad decided to take Johnny and his brother and sister to the park. Uncle Jerry, a good friend of the family was going, too. Johnny was so excited! Today Dad promised they could ride the paddle boats at the lake. Together they walked down the busy streets to Prospect Park.
Johnny rushed through the gateway and ran straight for the lake. He watched the people in the paddle boats skimming over the water. Soon he and his Dad were paddling around the lake. Round and round they went.
When their turn was over, Johnny jumped out of the boat and onto the dock. He reached over to help pull the boat to shore. As he stood on the slippery dock, his feet flew out from under him and — splash! He was going down, down into the water. His heart was beating fast! He didn’t know how to swim! He could see the little fishes swimming past his nose. He was scared!
Quickly Uncle Jerry reached for Johnny with his big hand. He grabbed him by his curly hair and pulled him up… up… till he was lying safely on the dock.
He was alive… He didn’t drown!!!
Uncle Jerry had reached out and saved him.
One hot summer day a couple of years later a man knocked on the door of the apartment where Johnny lived. He was inviting kids to walk down the street a few blocks to attend a summer Bible club. This time his Mom said, “Yes, you may go. It’s better than playing in the streets all day.”
At the club the children sang songs about Jesus, heard stories from the Bible and even won prizes for learning memory verses. Johnny was thrilled when he earned a little turtle for bringing friends to club.
His teacher told them that God’s Word, the Bible is true. She said that God had no beginning or ending. God has always existed. He was the One who created the world and all the beautiful trees, flowers and birds. Johnny heard that God created the animals and the first man and woman. Everything God made was perfect.
He also learned about the first man and woman that God made, named Adam and Eve. God made a beautiful garden for them to live in. It was even more beautiful than Prospect Park. They could eat of the fruit of all the trees in the garden except one. God said, “You must not eat the fruit from that tree.” God said if they ate that fruit they would be punished. They would die.
Adam and Eve disobeyed God. They ate the fruit from that one tree. Disobeying God is called SIN. Sin is anything we think, say or do that does not please God.
The teacher said that since that time everyone in the world has sinned. Boys and girls have disobeyed God. Grown up people have disobeyed God. The Bible says,
“For all have sinned.” (Romans 3:23)
Johnny did not like to hear about sin. He knew that he had done wrong things. He remembered the time that he had stolen an apple from the fruitstand at the corner. Mr. George, the man who owned the stand, had been angry and chased him away.
He knew that sometimes he had disobeyed his parents. One time his father had washed his mouth out with soap because he heard him saying some bad words he had heard at school.
The teacher told the boys and girls that God’s Word says that sin must be punished. There will be no sin in God’s beautiful home in Heaven. The Bible says the punishment for sin is death. That means people will be separated from God and not be able to live with Him in Heaven. Romans 6:23 says,
“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
But the teacher said that God’s Word has good news for us. She said that Jesus took our punishment for us when He died on the cross. He died in our place so that we would not have to be punished for our sins.
Johnny knew that he was a sinner. He believed that Jesus had died to take the punishment for his sin. That day he became one of God’s own children. God's Word says,
“Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31)