“Would Tessa be willing to try to read and record the whole gospel of John?” that was a question Outi, a leader of Yippee Children´s Choir Ministry in Finland asked. During the first Covid lockdowns, they had just made a recording with birds singing and children reading verses from the Bible. Tessa was one of those children and she was willing to continue. She started to read the gospel of John daily via videocalls with her Auntie Kate. Already on the second day, Auntie Kate realized that her questions should be written down. During recording days Outi had ended up doing the same. Some days the reading practice took ten minutes, some days more than an hour. Most of the time was spent on questions which Tessa had from her reading. What does Messiah mean? Whose wedding it was in Canaan? Why did they count only men, not children and women? Are Jesus and God the same?
Tessa was not afraid to ask any questions. When we die, do we get straight to heaven or do we need to wait? Why did God allow sin to enter the world? There were many questions which the theologians have been arguing for centuries. Tessa read the gospel several times before recording and she was getting a good grasp of the text. “Why did Jesus ask the woman to bring her husband when He knew that she did not have one?” (John 4) “Why didn´t Jesus ask the teachers of the law to bring the man as well? Only then they would have obeyed the law.” (John 8:3) She was also thinking what effects or similarities the reading had for today. Are there still pharisees today? How can money be more important than people? If Jesus went to prepare a place in heaven, what is he preparing: why preparing takes hundreds and thousands of years?
As Tessa was thoughtfully reading through John, something happened around the eighth and nineth chapter. There were more than a hundred questions raised from those chapters. The questions were about the woman met from adultery, about Samaritans, Satan, Moses, law, pharisees, Judas who betrayed Jesus, garden of Eden, the origin of Evil, heaven, crucifixion and many others. Auntie Kate and Outi spent time answering the questions. Some questions were easy to answer, some had to be thought through a bit more and some had to be accepted as questions which we cannot find final answers to. If the adult tried to answer in a superficial or not exact way, Tessa usually asked further questions and for clarification. Also, the answer had to be clear enough for a child to understand and short enough to be willing to listen. Tessa was not troubled or disappointed if she did not get clear answers to everything. The most important thing seemed to be that there was room for her questions and that there was someone to discuss with her about them.
When the latter chapters of John were on hand, Tessa had less questions. Instead, she ended up starting to explain and comment more. The questions asked earlier seemed to have laid some kind of foundation on which to build. Tessa told that reading John’s Gospel had a good impact on her. She told her faith had grown and her relationship with God had become closer. After John, Tessa practiced and recorded the Gospel of Mark and now the same process is going on with Matthew. Tessa hopes that she can also record Luke and Acts.
As Outi and Kate were writing down Tessa´s questions they were amazed. A thought came to their minds: how would the pastors and Bible teachers answer to those questions? At the same time Kate showed some of the questions to her friends who said immediately: “These should be published for Bible study groups!” So, the idea of publishing Tessa´s questions started to develop. After the recorded John was published, a little booklet called “Why does some keep on answering even though no-one asks? Questions from a child about the Gospel of John” was printed. It is a booklet which has 54 pages of Tessa´s questions. The booklet has been given to pastors, elders and other workers from different denominations. It has been also given to some theology students. One of the recipients said: “We should invite Tessa to teach at our church. She should come to teach and encourage us adults to ask questions.”
“In this booklet there are so many questions which we adults have too, but we do not dare to ask them”, said one of the readers. As Tessa herself said: “Why doesn´t everyone ask questions? If you do not ask, you cannot get answers.” May this be an encouragement for us all to ask questions and not be afraid if the question would be too hard to answer. May this testimony also encourage us to read the Bible with children. May this also encourage us to see the power of the Word of God!
This article is written by Tessa’s Auntie Kate from Finland