As I anticipated being able to share the gospel with these kids in the classrooms and with the teachers while we at lunch brought me very mixed emotions. I’ll start with the positive.
The story of Jesus is absolutely groundbreaking. Being able to start from the beginning of creation and work my way to Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of the people He loves is a privilege and joy. Its rare in America that I’m able to share with anyone who doesn’t already know the story of God, and its easy in America to get used to it. But when you’re telling the gospel for the first time to a group of students, you realize over and over again how amazing the story is. Watching their faces light up when I talked of the power that God had, and the way that he spoke creation into existence was a precious gift. And then watching horror strike their faces as I told of the pain that Jesus had to endure on the cross also reminded me of what a price He paid for us. The ones that listened were mesmerized by the story. They asked questions. How could Jesus come back from the dead? Why would He care about me? How did He make me? How does he remember my name if he’s made everyone?
It was a precious time I will not soon forget when I was able to answer their questions. To tell them that Jesus loved them because He was love. To tell them that Jesus is stronger than anything, even death. To tell them that Jesus never runs out of time to care about them. Declaring truth to a people lost in a religion that offers no hope. It was a privilege that I pray I’ll have the opportunity to have again.
But my heart broke as many of the students refused to listen. The first class I shared with Monday morning was the most crazy I’ve had since I’ve been here. Children screaming. Rolling on the floor. Hitting each other with chairs. Dumping the contents of my purse on the floor and ripping pages out of my journal. They were not in the mood to listen to what I had to say, or probably what anyone in the entire world had to say.
But we told them anyway. Most of the kids were drawing on the board by the time we finished the story. Not a single child was in their chair. The room was a mess and my heart was broken, but we got through the entire story.
I did something that I had promised myself I would not do after I finished talking to them. Right there in the front of this crazy and chaotic mess of a classroom, I cried. I wasn’t weeping. I wasn’t out of control and most of the kids didn’t even notice, but tears I had fought since my arrival here were shed. My heart was broken for these kids. My heart was broken for how poorly the morning had started to go, and my heart was broken as I realized that there was nothing I could do to make them listen. There was nothing I could do to calm them down. I felt completely useless and alone. Then, something I did not expect to happen happened. See, most of the kids act pretty naughty but they smile when they see me and if I talk directly to them, they usually will respond pretty positively to my presence. Most of the kids. Really, all but one of the kids. There is one little girl, who was in the classroom that morning, who has been nothing but angry with me since the moment I walked into that school. She rolls her eyes when I talk. She rolls her eyes when I stand there. She knocks over her desk when I ask her to write. She hates me, or so I thought. But, as I stood there, tears starting to come out of my eyes, she looked at me. She looked at me, and her face softened. She rolled her eyes, walked over to me from across the room, and gave me a hug. It was quick. If I would’ve blinked, I probably would’ve missed it. But she gave me a hug and changed everything. It was the blessing from God that I desperately needed. The little reminder that even though all of this felt like it was for naught, His ways are higher than mine, and His plan cannot be thwarted.
The translator called me over a couple of minutes later, and showed me where one boy had written, “Jesus loves me" in Thai on the board. The sentence was directly under a drawing of some cats fighting that he had worked on while I was telling the gospel. But he heard. Even if his heart wasn’t changed in that moment, and even if he wasn’t really paying as close of attention as I would’ve preferred, he heard me say that Jesus loved him.
All I can do now is continue to live out the gospel in the time that remains here. All I can do is pray for these kids and tell them as many times as I can that Jesus loves them. All I can do is trust that God would not have brought me here for no reason. Please continue to pray for the other girls as they share the gospel on their given days. Pray for the translators who have been working so hard and who, I’m sure, are very exhausted.
"I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you."