21 February 2017
You transformed Jacob’s* anger into hope
Posted in At-Risk / Chaplaincy / School life / Youth issues
When faced with violent threats from Prep student, Jacob*, Chappy Janelle and her fellow school staff chose to respond with love and kindness. Four years later, Jacob is now serving others.
“[Jacob] came to my school when he was starting Prep… When we were on playground duty with him, he would say stuff like, ‘I’m going to get a big knife and stab you. I’m going to kill you.’… The teacher’s aides and I would just give him a positive response back, and try to make him feel good about himself,” explains Janelle.
“His family were victims of domestic violence, and his mother took him to get away from the domestic violence.”
In addition to his awful home circumstances, Jacob has Asperger’s Syndrome, so interpreting social cues in his daily interactions has always been a challenge for him.
Further complicating matters was that Jacob’s concept of ‘normal’ interactions were formed in a highly volatile home.
Chappy Janelle was committed to demonstrating healthy relationships.
“I befriended him and talked to him, to find out how he was going each day. Even if he was running past, he would still say ‘Hi, Chappy!’ because he knew he was special to me. If he was down and I saw that, I would spend time with him and find out as best I could what was wrong.”
Slowly but surely, Chappy Janelle’s caring presence began to bear fruit.
Today, Jacob is a completely different boy, who enjoys serving other students at his school’s Breaky Club.
“He asked ‘Chappy, can I have a go at serving the other kids?’. And that for me was just such a blessing because he’s never been a kid who liked interacting with other people… So for him that was just amazing… If the kids wanted Vegemite or jam, he’d do the toast for them, and get their Milo. It was just an amazing blessing.”
Through Chappy Janelle’s unwavering love and support, together with the help of the school’s other support staff, Jacob has been given hope where there was once hopelessness.
“A little guy like [Jacob] would slip through the cracks when it comes to school… A child like him just really needed to know that he was special. Teachers, and support staff, do their very best but they just don’t have the time that’s needed, and as a Chappy we can take the time.”
The impact of school chaplaincy is life-changing. But we need your support for it to continue. Visit suqld.org.au/donate.
*Name and image has been changed to protect child’s identity.
Thank you chaplains for the tremendous work you do in the schools. For helping change the lives of so many hurting young people for the better. You are faithful servants of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless all of you
This is a heartwarming story. I work at a special needs assistance school where every single kid is a Jacob. Mainstream schools find it easier to exclude these kids rather than help them stay connected and thereby exacerbate their sense of rejection and hopelessness. The only problem I have with SU is that they seem to only work denominationally. They tend to forget that Christ was working through the Samaritan and other excluded groups. If the world was to be one big village, these attitudes must cease.
Thanks for your feedback Anne. Yes, Jacob’s story is yet another poignant reminder of the power of love to combat anger. Regarding your comment about SU QLD working denominationally, we are very much multi-denominational. Part of the strength of our ministry is in working with all Christian churches and community organisations. Our heart is to support all children, young people and their families, regardless of their background. If you would like any further information we’d be happy to follow up with you via email at email@example.com.
That was so wonderful to read & you Chaplains do a great job with these kids. Jesus love you as much as the kids & I bet he is so pleased with the work you are doing in the schools. Thanks so much & I wish you were around when I went to school as was very unhappy at school which was such a long time ago.