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The Ugly Duckling

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16.

John 3:16 is my favorite text; it is my passport into the heavenly kingdom. There is so much love and promise in the verse. We are God’s created beings, and He loved us so much He was willing that His Son should suffer and die for us. In return for this great sacrifice, and by our belief in the grace of Jesus, we can have a home in the eternal kingdom. Heaven is where we belong—this earth is only a temporary home in which toprepare for our home with our God.

This is a text that I always take with me. It was there as I served in the mission field, as I traveled throughout Russia, lived and taught in China, and as I worked with the children in the different schools. I need to remember it each day as my path crosses with different people and in various situations. It helps me to believe that each person I meet and deal with is a loved one of God—we are brothers and sisters. How dare I mistreat anyone, as we are all bound together by our being created in the image of God. He wants each one of us to have everlasting life.

It is important for me to keep this always in mind as I work with children in the school system—regardless of their ethnic background, behavior, or dress. I work with many ethnic groups of children. One day as I worked with a classroom of 20 children, I read to them the story of the ugly duckling in which the cygnet turns into a beautiful swan. I’ve seen cygnets, and they are not pretty (although I don’t like to exactly call them ugly). I always read the books upside down so the children can see the pictures. And I often stop for questions and discussions. When I turned to the page of the ugly cygnet, Zach, a little African-American boy, raised his hand. “Yup, that’s me; nobody likes me.” John 3:16 helps me to give him assurance. It is always there, whether I quote it or use the meaning of it.

When I taught my students in China, I began with this verse to explain why I was there, and why and how I loved them and, more importantly, how God loves them! I stressed to them how God loves the crippled beggar down on the sidewalk as much as He loves them or me.

We all have the same promise of love and the same hope of an eternal life. I want to show God’s love this day as I meet my brothers and sisters.

Dessa Weisz Hardin

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