Shipwrecked on Malta

Acts 27, 28

Jesus told his disciples that they would be his witnesses all over the world! Paul is a great example of that happening in a believer’s life. This lesson will show that nothing can stop the Gospel and should inspire the kids to share the love of Jesus with others.

Key Verse

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.”
– Acts 1.8 (NET)


Lesson

Use your Bible as you teach the lesson. Explain to the kids where the book of Acts is in the Bible so that they become more comfortable with finding their way around the Bible. For 4-5s you could simply use the Beginner’s Bible and use this script to elaborate. It could go something like this:

Hey Everyone! Today we are going to talk about sharing the Gospel! Does anyone know what the Gospel is? [Gather answers from the kids] Yes! The Gospel is the Story about Jesus. It is the good news that Jesus came to save us from all the bad things we think and do and all the bad things that hurt us. He did this by living a life without ever sinning and then taking all our sin on himself so that our sin doesn’t stop us from coming to God! All we have to do is believe in Jesus and accept that he has come to save us. But after Jesus died for us, most people didn’t know who Jesus was. So he told all his followers to tell everyone in the world.

One man that Jesus chose for this mission was a man named Paul. Does anyone remember who Paul is? [Gather answers from the class and fill in any gaps you need to] Paul traveled to many places to tell people about Jesus and create churches and write letters about Jesus. Paul felt that he was supposed to go to Rome to tell others about Jesus, but on his way, he was thrown in prison for believing in Jesus. After years of waiting, he finally was going to be sent by ship to Caesar. Caesar would make the final decision whether or not Paul was guilty [Ask the kids if they know who Caesar was and if they know where he lived]. Do you think Paul made it to Rome like God wanted? Let’s read the story and find out!

27:14-15, 17-20 After sailing for some time… But the weather changed abruptly, and a wind of typhoon strength (called a “northeaster”) burst across the island and blew us out to sea. The sailors couldn’t turn the ship into the wind, so they gave up and let it run before the gale. . Then the sailors bound ropes around the hull of the ship to strengthen it. They were afraid of being driven across to the sandbars of Syrtis off the African coast, so they lowered the sea anchor to slow the ship and were driven before the wind. The next day, as gale-force winds continued to batter the ship, the crew began throwing the cargo overboard. The following day they even took some of the ship’s gear and threw it overboard. The terrible storm raged for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone.

Whoa! This is quite the scary storm! Sailors are the toughest guys around, but even they are scared! But God wants Paul to share the “Jesus Story” in Rome, so do you think he will protect him from the storm? Let’s find out.

21-25 No one had eaten for a long time. Finally, Paul called the crew together and said, “Men, you should have listened to me in the first place and not left Crete. You would have avoided all this damage and loss. But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, and he said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What’s more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.’ So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said. But we will be shipwrecked on an island.”

Isn’t this amazing! Not only does Paul know God wants him to go to Rome, but he sent his angel to reassure him! God wants Paul to share the “Jesus Story” in Rome.

Let’s continue reading.

39-41 When morning dawned, they didn’t recognize the coastline, but they saw a bay with a beach and wondered if they could get to shore by running the ship aground. But they hit a shoal and ran the ship aground too soon. The bow of the ship stuck fast, while the stern was repeatedly smashed by the force of the waves and began to break apart.

How scary! God protected them from the storm, but now their ship has crashed and is falling apart. This is terrifying, but remember… God wants Paul to share the “Jesus Story” in Rome. So do you think that God will protect Paul from the ship breaking apart? Let’s find out!

42 The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners to make sure they didn’t swim ashore and escape.

Whoa! They have a plan to be saved from the ship, but the soldiers are going to kill Paul! But remember, God wants Paul to share the “Jesus Story” in Rome. So do you think God is going to protect Paul from the soldiers?

27:43-28:2 But the commanding officer wanted to spare Paul, so he didn’t let them carry out their plan. Then he ordered all who could swim to jump overboard first and make for land. The others held on to planks or debris from the broken ship.[g] So everyone escaped safely to shore. Once we were safe on shore, we learned that we were on the island of Malta. The people of the island were very kind to us. It was cold and rainy, so they built a fire on the shore to welcome us.

Phew, God protected Paul from the soldiers and they made it to shore! But why? Because God wants Paul to share the “Jesus Story” in Rome. Let’s continue the story…

3-4 As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand. The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.”

Oh no! Just when everything seemed good, something bad happens to Paul! A poisonous snake bit him! But remember, God wants Paul to share the “Jesus Story” in Rome. So do you think God will protect Paul from the poison? Let’s find out…

5-6 But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn’t harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god.

That is incredible! God protected Paul from the poison! Paul ended up spending time on the island of Malta and he shared the love of Jesus with the people of the island. The Bible also tells us that Paul did finally make it to Rome and he was able to share the “Jesus Story” with people there.

Conclusion

Do you know that God gave you the same mission he gave Paul? Just as God sent Paul to Rome to share the “Jesus Story”, God also wants you to share the “Jesus Story”, with people.

Sometimes sharing the Story about Jesus is scary, but Jesus will protect you too! If God could save Paul from a storm and a shipwreck and evil soldiers and a poisonous snake, then he can save you too from anything! So who can you tell about Jesus this week at school?

Pray that the children would recognize how God is at work in each of their lives in the same way that he was at work in Paul’s life. Thank God that he loves us and that we can share his love with others wherever we are!


Review Questions

  • Why was Paul on a ship?
  • What kind of weather did they experience?
  • How did God speak to Paul?
  • Why did the soldiers want to kill the prisoners?
  • How did God rescue Paul?
  • How else did God protect Paul in this story?

Game

IDEA: Fishbowl

Supplies: Words on cards in a bowl (Use keywords from the memory verse and lesson)

To play: Place words in a bowl (box, hat, etc.) and divide kids into two equal teams. Each team takes thirty-second turns to guess words that one chosen teammate pulls from the bowl. The current player giving hints will continue to try to get his or her team to guess until the timer stops. Once the timer stops, pass the bowl to the next team and have them repeat the same thing. Play until all the words have been guessed. Fishbowl is played in three rounds that follow the following rules:

Round 1 (catchphrase): The rules for catchphrase are that you can say any words except for the word or part of the word on the paper.

Round 2 (charades): The rules for this round is that you have to act out each word without saying anything.

Round 3 (password): Teammates will try to guess the words by having their chosen teammate give them a one word hint as a password to guess the phrase. For example, if the paper says ‘Snake’, the player could say “Reptile” or “Poison”


Image credit: St Paul’s rescue on Malta, a mosaic inspired by a fresco in the Vatican by Nicolò Circignani and given to Malta by Pope Benedict XVI.