We are grateful to the leaders from one of the local churches who saw it in their wisdom to offer the Grade 6 students at his school the chance to form a "Grade 6 Go Bananas Club" and meet once a month at various homes and landmarks round Alice Springs.
I have been once. I think their first mistake was calling it "Go Bananas". If that is not like giving dynamite to a monkey (or to a bunch of 11 and 12 year olds) then I don't know what is.
I still don't know what has happened at most of the meetings, because as I said, he is a pre-adolescent male, and is going through the standard pre-adolescent "Not much", "Good", "Alright", "Yep" answer routine. Most car journeys in Alice Springs only last 10 minutes luckily... for both of us no doubt.
Over the weekend, my son, out of the blue, decides to buy packet muffin mix and busily spent the afternoon baking muffins. He did the same on the Monday afternoon. He did it all himself. He took the muffins, bundled them up into a container and walked round the neighbourhood to bless the neighbours. "I'm off to bless the 'hood" he said as he walked out the door.
Our area and Alice Springs in general does not get the best publicity sometimes. A lady from our area recently wrote in the local paper saying she feared to walk the streets during the day. From our point of view, we have rarely seen or heard anything to the contrary.
I was proud of my son that day. He was offered money which he refused to take. People were amazed when he told them he just wanted to bless them and they were quick to offer thanks to my wife, but were amazed again when he told them he was the baker. We have had chocolate brownies, chocolate cake and mint slice arrive at our door this week. I play in an Australian football elimination final on Sunday and I have put on 1kg this week!
Apparently they talked about the concept of "pay it forward" at the "Grade 6 Go Bananas club" on Friday night. This was the same night (apparently) he found "Pretty Boring", which we didn't mind because it was a different answer to his usual responses.
Just before David was anointed by Samuel to be King, Jesse's son Eliab stepped forward and we read:
"Samuel saw Eliab and thought 'Surely the Lord's anointed stands here before the Lord. But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart'". (1 Samuel 16:6-7 NIV).
Quite simply, I believe the message of the Gospel is to love God and love others. Often we put value on people's worth on what they look like, what they say or do not say, what has happened or not happened in their life. We often look at what they are doing or not doing, rather than what they are being or becoming.
My wife and I saw our son's heart that day. One of the greatest gifts a parent could ever receive.
Russell Modlin teaches Physical Education, Health and English at an indigenous boarding school in Alice Springs, Northern Territory. He is married to Belinda and they have three children.