Objects needed: Picture of Helen Keller is available online at: http://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=1http://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=1
A sight impaired person in the congregation who could provide a book in Braille or a hearing impaired person who could demonstrate sign language would be a great supplement to this lesson. These suggestions are optional, children’s sermon can be presented without supplementation.
Helen Keller is a woman who was born in 1880. When she was one and one half years old she had an illness that caused her to be blind and deaf. She could not see and she could not hear. We can hardly imagine how difficult life would be for such a person. She was unable to communicate with anyone. She could not hear words that were spoken to her therefore she had no way to learn how to speak words. Because of this she became an unruly child and others thought she was unable to learn.
When Helen Keller was six years old her parents hired a teacher, Anne Sullivan who came to live with the family and work with Helen. Usually a person who is blind is taught to use Braille, a system of small raised dots that represent letters and numbers. When the dots are touched they can be translated into words which allow a sight impaired person to read.
People who are unable to hear learn sign language. Hands and fingers are positioned in various ways to represent specific letters, words or phrases. Facial expressions and body language are also used to help hearing impaired people communicate.
In Helen’s case, since she could neither see nor hear, it seemed there was no way to teach her sign language or Braille. Anne Sullivan, Helen’s teacher, was very persistent and caring. She worked with Helen every day for many hours. One day there was a breakthrough. Helen and Anne were outside near a water pump. Anne Sullivan, ran water over Helen’s hand and at the same time moved Helen’s hand in sign language, demonstrating the word for water. At that moment Helen learned there were names for things. There was now a way she could learn to communicate with others.
Helen Keller was a remarkable woman who went on to graduate from college (Ratcliffe) with honors, wrote many books, traveled all over the world and met world leaders. In spite of her disabilities she accomplished many things and was an inspiration to others. One of the most profound things she said was, ” The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt within the heart.”
In the Bible Jesus talked about this very thing when he said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (12:34). The things that are really important are not the things we have, but the love we feel in our heart. It is love that comes from God and it is ours to give to others. Where is the treasure? It is in your heart.
Scripture quotations from the World English Bible
Copyright 2011, Richard Niell Donovan