presents The Boy from Brooklyn series
(a true story)
Lesson 3: God Has a Plan for Johnny’s Life
How many years have you gone to school? Five? Six? Seven? Eight? Or more? One day Johnny began to think about all the years he had spent going to school.
First grade was a bit scary. The twins were already in second grade. He remembered walking behind them carrying his new pencils and notebooks. They passed the bakery and the vegetable stand and the shoe store and the candy store. They passed the apartment buildings where his friends lived.
Finally they arrived at PS 133. He found out that he liked school. Reading books and drawing pictures became Johnny’s favorite school subjects. Soon he walked back and forth to school all by himself.
Johnny thought of the gang that used to hang out at the corner when he was in grade school. Paulina was the leader of a small gang and she had five or six boys who followed her around and did what she told them to do. Paulina was a big girl and she was mean and tough. She could beat up any of the boys in grade school.
One afternoon when he saw the gang, Johnny quickly crossed to the other side of the street. He could hear Paulina shouting, “Come on, Johnny. Where are you going? Are you scared of us?”
Johnny could run. Paulina and the gang might be strong but they couldn’t run as fast as Johnny.
At another time he remembered something that happened in middle school. He was almost home from school when around the corner came three big guys. They closed in on Johnny before he could run.
As they surrounded him, the biggest guy pulled out a knife holding it in front of him so no one passing by could see. “Give me your money,” he said in a low demanding voice. Johnny pulled out the lining of his pockets. They were empty. The big guy left with a disgusted look. “Next time you better have something for us,” he had threatened.
He had always stayed away from the gangs. He had worked hard doing his homework and helping at home. God had helped him to earn enough money to buy Sandy, his tan and white collie.
That year he was given the responsibility of being a guard in the lunch room. As each boy and girl entered the lunch room, he had to check to see that they had a lunch pass to allow them to come in. It wasn’t a hard job but that day he was hungry and could hardly wait to sit down. Just then this big guy pushed by him and got into line. “Just a minute,” he had called out, “Where’s your lunch pass?”
Before he knew what was happening the big guy had punched him in the face and Johnny was on the floor. The bully was hitting hard. At that moment one of the teachers turned around.
“Get to the principal’s office right now!” he yelled.
After the principal had heard their stories, Johnny was allowed back to the lunch room and the bully was sent home for a few days. Although Johnny didn’t understand all about it, God was looking after Johnny through the good times and the hard times.
And now he was in high school. He was still working hard after school. One job he had was delivering telegrams. (Telegrams are something like special delivery letters.)
Sometimes he had to take a subway to downtown New York City. He would go to the Empire State Building and take the elevator up… up… up to the 75th floor. That was fun!
But the best thing that happened to Johnny in high school was when he met Bob. Bob believed that Jesus had died on the cross for him and had risen again. He was a Christian. He had trusted Jesus as His Savior just like Johnny had. Bob loved Jesus and wanted to obey God’s Word. He lived with his parents in a small apartment with a shop in the front facing the street where his father repaired refrigerators.
One day, Bob invited Johnny to his house so he could talk to him about Jesus. They looked for a quiet place and finally sat down behind the refrigerators in the shop. “Johnny, I know you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. He is taking care of you. He is helping you to do what is right. But He wants you to get to know Him better. He wants you to grow to be more like Jesus.”
Johnny looked puzzled. “What do you mean? I don’t understand. I’m staying out of trouble. I only hang out with kids who don’t do drugs or swear. What are you talking about?”
Bob held up his Bible. “God wants you to be reading His Word, the Bible. It is like His letter to us. He tells us many things in this book about how to please Him. Everything God tells us in the Bible is true.”
Another day, Bob said, “Johnny, God wants you to talk to Him every day. We need to thank Him for all the good things He has given us. And we need to tell Him about our problems.” The Bible says, “Give thanks unto the Lord.” (Psalm 105:1)
Johnny learned to thank God for all God had given him: his family, his school, jobs to do, his dog Sandy, and his new friend, Bob. Most of all he was thankful for Jesus who died to save him.
After high school Johnny got a job at the public library. But he wasn’t sure what God wanted him to do with his life? Should he stay at the library? Should he work with his Dad in the restaurant? Should he join the army? Bob told him to pray about it.
Then one day Bob announced, “I think you should go to Bible School!”
“Bible School?” asked Johnny. “What’s that?”
In the next story you will find out what exciting things happened next in Johnny’s life – God had a plan for Johnny that would take him far from the streets of Brooklyn, New York…