Cheli walked slightly ahead of her father and I, pulling excitedly on her father’s hand as we neared the door to her third grade classroom. It was open house night, and Cheli could not wait for us to see her room, and meet her teacher. We toured the room, looking at the bright decorations on the bulletin boards that surrounded the children’s work so proudly being pointed out by bouncy students to their parents.
As Cheli showed us her work laid out neatly on her desk, her teacher, Mrs. Watts greeted us cordially. She praised Cheli for her enthusiasm in doing her school work and complemented her on her willingness to help others in her class. Picking up a picture from Cheli’s desk, she commented on the messages she always put in her pictures.
The picture was of a tree in a meadow with a rainbow arching across a blue sky with white fluffy clouds in the background. In the left corner of the picture in red crayon, Cheli had written “Jesus loves you” and put several hearts around the words.
“Yes,” Cheli’s father said stroking her hair affectionately. “Jesus is an important person to us.”
Mrs. Watts pressed her lips lightly together and smiled as she looked down at the desk, “Yes, he’s important to me too” she said quietly while placing the picture back on the desk. Then turning away from us, she greeted another child and their parents.
Something about Mrs. Watts tone of voice had set off an alarm in my spirit, but I dismissed it as an over-protective reaction to this apparently harmless woman.
The following week, Cheli began to tell me of rest period exercises that were very disturbing to her. These exercises consisted of emptying her mind of all thoughts, then letting the teacher put new thoughts in her head and being introduced to a “spirit friend”. They always had to imagine themselves sitting under a rainbow, and letting this “friend” come to meet them there. I was horrified. I had read about this sort of thing happening in classrooms, but I never imagined it could happen to my child. I instructed her to just pray for God’s protection during those times, and imagine it was Jesus coming to talk with her. She willingly did this, and seemed to be at peace now that she had a way to silently not participate in the exercises.
I was relieved that the problem could be taken care of so easily. I felt sorry for Mrs. Watts, and worried for the other children in her care; so I dutifully started praying for the other children, and made sure that Cheli always prayed her way through putting on the armor of God each morning before she went to school. Little did I realize that the battle was just beginning.
Several weeks later I started noticing a change in Cheli’s disposition. My normally cheerful and bouncy child was becoming moody and withdrawn. When I asked her if everything was alright, she burst into tears. She was having extreme trouble making friends at school. Every time she made a new friend, within three days the friend would suddenly turn against her and refuse to have anything more to do with her. In the classroom, she felt like she couldn’t do anything right. Mrs. Watts was always making her sit by herself, and she didn’t know what she had done to be isolated from the rest of the class. She was sure she was failing. She said that she always got low marks on her papers, but her friends always got higher marks even if they had same amount wrong as she did.
I had never seen a low mark on her papers, but I began to realize that Cheli had not been bringing home her school work very often in the last few weeks. She had told me that she kept forgetting it. I was stunned by her words, and furious that she was being treated so cruelly. I tried to console her, and promised her that I would try to find out why all this was happening, and if the grades on her report card did not match the work I knew she was doing, I would confront her teacher about it. This seemed to comfort her a little, but she seemed to be slipping slowly into a dark pit that I couldn’t help her climb out of.
The time for my first parent-teacher conference arrived a couple of weeks after her tearful confession, and I was becoming seriously alarmed at the depressed state she was continuing to sink into. My husband and I had talked and decided that I needed to find out if her teacher was noticing the changes affecting our daughter. When I told Mrs. Watts what we had observed happening to Cheli, a most unusual thing happened. She began to smile as if she was pleased that I was confiding in her, but she would not allow her eyes to meet mine. Her lips were pressed tightly together and her smile continued to grow until it seemed that the very shape of her face changed and she looked exactly like the Grinch in Dr. Suess’s story.
I blinked my eyes, not willing to believe what I was seeing. Slowly the smile faded back into a normal looking smile, as she shuffled the papers in front of her. Then looking at me for the first time, she reassuringly said “I think I have some ideas that will help Cheli.” I thanked her for any assistance she could give us. She again assured me that she would be working to help Cheli deal with her struggles; then rising from her chair, she politely ended our conference.
Over the next few weeks, I tried hard to dismiss what I had seen as my imagination truly working overtime. I shared what had happened with my husband, and he was just as hesitant to believe me as I was myself. I kept waiting to hear from Cheli that things were getting better at school. I looked for any sign of improvement in her disposition, but things were actually getting worse. By Christmas break, Cheli had become so despondent that she was withdrawing from everyone and was begging us not to make her go back to school.
My husband and I cried out to God for discernment and direction. I kept having the thought that maybe Mrs. Watts was a witch, and that she was out to destroy Cheli because of her witness for Christ. We knew of another child who had been persecuted for his faith in another school in a neighboring city, and his story was similar to Cheli’s.
I shared this with my husband, and we decided to put this idea to the test. We prayed for Jesus to cover Cheli with His blood and to block any spells that Mrs. Watts might be trying to put on her. We asked Him to seal off Cheli from any demonic activity that might be trying to destroy her, and to restore her to her normal self. We prayed this daily all through the Christmas break, and began to see a marked improvement in her disposition.
A week before school began again, we shared with Cheli what we had been praying, and encouraged her to trust Jesus to make everything better for her at school. She reluctantly agreed, and went off to school with a look of fearful anticipation filling her big blue eyes.
The very next day she bounced into the kitchen and announced that she had made a new friend. I held my breath for the next few days as I continued to pray for Cheli’s protection, and waited to see if this new friend was going to suddenly turn on her like all the others had. The new friend never turned on her, and Cheli continued to make other friends that also never turned against her. Cheli became the happy child she had originally been, and even won first place for the third grade class in the schools annual science fair. Cheli also told me that when Mrs. Watts started to pick on her in class, that the teacher’s assistant, Mrs. Marsh, would ask her to help her do special errands, and would always tell her that she hadn’t done anything wrong and it wasn’t her fault.
For the rest of the school year Mrs. Watts never seemed able to keep her scheduled appointments with me for the quarterly parent-teacher conferences. Every time I scheduled a time to see her, she cancelled the appointment for some frivolous reason. I never did get the opportunity to speak with her again. My son’s teacher told me that she tried to get herself transferred to another school when the school year ended.
It was several years later before Cheli began to understand just what God had done for her during that time, and how earnestly Mrs. Watts had sought to destroy her. She had been thrust into a spiritual battle that the enemy had intended to use to destroy her, but God had other plans.
As a family, we truly learned the meaning of the scripture in Psalm 50, verse 15: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will glorify Me.”
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