Last summer my mother passed away. She’d battled cancer, Alzheimers, plus dementia. In her final weeks of life, she fell in her assisted living facility and broker her leg. We had to keep her heavily sedated because she was not strong enough for surgery. The Lord was gracious and called her home, healing her completely. We didn’t get to have the goodbye we wanted, but we’ll have all eternity to catch up.
In the time between her death and funeral, my sister found a box or two of memorabilia that mom had put back for sake keeping. In these boxes was a binder with handwritten pages describing portions of mom’s life. She’d obviously written these decades ago in an attempt to chronicle her life for us. We never knew they existed until after her death. I placed an image of one particular page to the right. On this page my mother mentions a Sunday School teacher she had when she was nine years old. This teacher had no idea the impact she had on my mother, who in turn had an impact on my sister and I. More on that in a minute.
The Legacy of Helen Jensen
For the first time ever, I read this document and learned how influential one particular Sunday School teacher had been on my mother. I discovered that my mother was saved at age nine.
I’d like you to hear the influence that “just a Sunday School teacher” (and other teachers) had on my mother. Here is what mom said about teacher I’d never heard of before now, Ms. Helen Jensen:
Due to the Christian influence of parents, and Sunday School teachers like Helen Jensen, I accepted Christ as my Savior in 1944. I will always have a special love for this church (University Baptist in Abilene, TX) because that monumental decision was made there.
The teachers who came before Ms. Jensen and taught my mother about Jesus laid a foundation of the gospel. Helen Jensen, when my mother was 9 years old, was there when the Holy Spirit convicted my mother of her sin and brought her to the point of making a decision to follow Christ. Helen talked to mom, shared the gospel, and explained how mom could become a Christian. Mom accepted Christ as her savior, and was baptized soon after. As she grew older she learned the Bible, discovered her gifts, and served faithfully in the church until she had to be placed in assisted living care a few short years ago.
Helen Jensen led mom to the Lord, and mom made sure my sister and I were in church (and especially Sunday School) each week – there were no exceptions! I surrendered to ministry, went to seminary, and went on to lead the education ministries of three churches (still doing that today in addition to my full-time gig!). I serve as the Sunday School Director for LifeWay and the SBC, write, blog, teach, manage the adult curriculum department, and train leaders around the country. My sister has been a pastor’s wife for 3 decades, and she and her husband have a strong and vibrant ministry in the Fort Worth area.
All this to say, if you are a teacher, never use the phrase “I’m just a Sunday School teacher.” I imagine that Ms. Helen Jensen might have thought of herself in those terms. “Just a teacher.” Nobody special. A church member doing their part because someone asked her to teach. Little did she know that she’d play an important part in my mother’s salvation decision, and that mom’s influence as a Christian would put myself and my sister on pathways that God has used in some pretty great ways. I have wondered where I might be today if mom hadn’t
I never knew Helen Jensen existed until late last year, but am I thankful for her ministry as a Sunday School teacher. She changed my life because she taught the Bible to my mother, loved her, and introduced her to Jesus.
If you are a Sunday School teacher, never say, “I’m just a teacher.” You are much more than that! You are a shepherd, you are an evangelist, you are a teacher of God’s Word, and you will never know the depth and breadth of your influence on the Kingdom of God until you get to heaven and see the fruit of your labor.
God bless you for being a teacher – you’re making a bigger difference than you know.