Read an Excerpt
Off My Case for Kids Copyright 2006 by Lee Strobel and Robert Elmer Illustrations 2006 by The Zondervan Corporation Requests for information should be addressed to:
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Strobel, Lee, 1952-
Off my case for kids : 12 stories to help you defend your faith / by Lee Strobel and Robert Elmer.
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-71199-5 (softcover)
ISBN-10: 0-310-71199-1 (softcover)
1. ApologeticsJuvenile literature. 2. Witness bearing
(Christianity) Juvenile literature. I. Elmer, Robert. II. Title.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Reader's Version. NIr V. Copyright 1995, 1996, 1998 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical,
photocopy, recording, or any other except for brief quotations in printed reviews,
without the prior permission of the publisher.
Editor: Kristen Tuinstra Cover Design: Sarah Jongsma and Holli Leegwater Interior Art Direction: Sarah Jongsma and Kristen Tuinstra Interior Design: Sarah Jongsma Composition: Ruth Bandstra Illustrations: Dan Brawner Photography: Synergy Photographic Printed in the United States of America
06 07 08 09 10
• 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Lydia, Kid Missionary Lydia saw it coming, but that didn't make it hurt any less. She stepped high over Mandy Witherspoon's outstretched foot so she wouldn't trip, but she lost her grip on her books. And the kids' giggles made her face flush like fire.
'Come on, let's go!' The bus driver looked up in the rearview mirror and yelled at her. 'And if you're late again tomorrow morning, you're going to have to walk.'
Lydia held the tears in just barely scooped up her books,
and scrambled off the bus as fast as her legs would take her.
'Speak English much?'
She didn't turn to see who had yelled the insult, but she could guess. Mandy Witherspoon. What did that girl have against her? She wished she didn't hear some of the taunts at school, wished she understood why some of the kids looked at her with so much hatred sometimes.
You don't belong here!
Get back over the border where you came from!
But we're not going back. Lydia stood in her muddy front yard for a minute, catching her breath and letting the rain wash the tears from her face. She didn't really miss what they'd left behind in Mexico. Except back there, everybody else was just as poor as Lydia and her grandmother. Just as poor, and just as desperate to find something better. At least here . . .
'At least here what, Lord?' she prayed out loud as she pushed open the front door to their apartment. Her thirteen year-
old sister wasn't home, as usual. And her grandmother would not return home for another two hours, maybe later,
depending on what shift they gave her at the burger place.
'What do we have now that's better than back home?'
Well, plenty, when she stopped to think about it. She sat down at the wobbly kitchen table and spread out her soggy books. Books, for one thing. A school to go to, and not all the kids were as mean as Mandy Witherspoon. A tiny apartment with a bathroom and a telephone. Three small rooms, which was not much compared to what a lot of other Americans had.
But compared to what they had back in Mexico? She would not soon forget the tar-paper shack they used to live in, her and a dozen other relatives: aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews, and all without a bathroom. She rested her head on her open English textbook for a minute,
telling the Lord she was sorry for the way she complained.
He had brought them here for a reason, she knew. She and Grandmother had prayed about it, looked for the answer.
'I'm sorry, God. Help me to know why I'm here, and what you want me to do.'
But she was tired of trying to figure it out. Right now she would close her eyes for just a minute . . .
Lydia felt a soft hand on her shoulder, shaking her awake.
Her grandmother stood over her, still in her fast-food uniform.
Lydia didn't quite follow. She had just laid her head down a minute ago.
'What are you doing home so early?'
'How long have you been sleeping? It's almost six-thirty.'
Lydia jumped up, nearly knocking over one of the grocery bags now on the table. She must have fallen asleep.
'And look at all this!' Her grandmother brought one last bag in from the hallway and set it down with a clunk on the kitchen table. She pointed to at least a dozen bags, now piled all over. Each one was stuffed with good things: canned peaches, a large ham, cranberries . . .
'I've never tasted these before.' Lydia brought the can closer to see. Unreal. Everything looked so . . .
'And look here!' Her grandmother pulled out a large frozen bird. 'Not just one turkey . . . two!'
Two turkeys! It was easy to dance about the kitchen, giggling at each new discovery, pulling out packages of marshmallows and spaghetti, canned tuna and sweet potatoes. So many strange foods. Did all Americans eat like this?
'A feast!' her grandmother cried, but then she stopped and looked Lydia in the eye. 'But you didn't hear?'
'I didn't even hear you come in.'
'Then who brought all this? It was all left outside.'
Lydia had no clue, except that she'd heard church groups sometimes delivered groceries to needy families during the holidays. And they, it seemed, were one of those needy families.
But when she looked at her grandma, they both smiled at the same time. For a moment they felt more like sisters than grandmother and granddaughter, abuela and nieta.
'Are you thinking what I'm thinking?' Lydia asked, and her grandmother nodded her head.
'I think so. We each take a bag, and come back for more.'
'One bag for each house?'
That would be fine, so they pulled cans and hams from one bag to the other, spreading out the gifts they would take to others who were less fortunate than they.
God had given them this food for a reason, had he not?
And this would be part of the answer to their prayers.
Lydia couldn't keep the grin from her face as they hurried out into the cold, driving rain. Now it didn't matter.
'Which house first?' she asked as they hurried down the street. That would not be the hard part. The hard part was getting away from the families who discovered them before they could get away. One older woman started crying and wanted them to come into her tiny apartment.
'Thank you, no.' Lydia's abuela smiled and held her granddaughter's hand. 'We have more to deliver before it gets too late, and we're far from home. But . . . '
She paused, and Lydia filled in what they had already told a handful of other families. How much they loved Jesus, and how he had answered their prayers. Each time she said it to someone new, she felt a little less shy. He had given them so much, even before the groceries; otherwise, she knew, they would not be doing this.
And for the first time, Lydia knew it was really true. The old woman looked at them with tears in her eyes.
'But we just want you to know . . . ,' Lydia added, and it wasn't as hard to say now as it was the first time. 'We want you to know how much Jesus loves you.'
They left the old woman watching them through the window,
and Lydia paused for a moment outside an older mobile home, looking something like the Titanic in its last moments.
A dog growled from the darkness.
'Here?' Lydia wondered, still holding a grocery bag with their one remaining turkey. Her grandmother looked back at her with concern on her face. But Lydia didn't wait, just pushed open the gate and threaded her way past parts of a junk car as she walked up to the door. The dog went wild behind the door when she knocked.