Garrett and I taught an English class in a public school for two weeks. The words we taught them fit into a story -- the story of the prodigal son. The goal was to get to know our students and invite them to church, where the pastor would teach on the prodigal son that Sunday. I hoped they would see themselves in the story, how we all have squandered everything God has given us and run away from Him, but when we turn around and come to Him, He rejoices and makes us His children. I poured everything I had into the class and tried to be intentional with every moment I had with them. I prayed vigorously and reached out to others back home to pray. I thought I had built relationships with several of them. On our last day of class, I wrote each student a letter, encouraging them to stay in school, telling them I greatly enjoyed my time with them, asking them to come to church, and letting them know that I was praying for them. I thought I did everything I could.
When church started on the day we had invited our students, none of them came. Garrett and I waited expectantly, but we didn't see any of them. I couldn't believe it! We were so upset. We wondered if there was anything else we could have done.
There was worship, and the church recognized us as it was our last day in their village. Then as we sat down, they called out the name of one of my students. I turned around and saw him, one of my favorites who had stood out to me from the very first day! I gathered my things and sat in the back with him. I told him I was so happy that he had come. I couldn't believe it... again! When the lesson began, I opened my Bible to the story of the prodigal son, and someone helped him find it in the Khmer Bible. I asked him if he understood that it was the same story we learned in class, and he started picking out the English words we had learned. He ate lunch with us, told me goodbye, and left. The pastor said he would go to the student's house and meet his family this week, and hopefully he would come back to church next week.
Before coming on this trip, I had prayed that if all we did was scatter seeds without seeing any fruit, we would be content and still trust the Lord. I didn't realize how difficult that prayer was until it happened. Now I pray it again, with a new understanding. I pray for the missionary who is there long-term, that he will continue what we could only start. I pray for my students because God doesn't need me in order to save them. Anything I do in my own strength will avail nothing, but God is limitless in His ability to change lives. Garrett reminded me that we only have a short time on every place we go this summer and that we will likely not see any fruit. He has peace with it, and I need to have that, too. Lord, help me to trust You in scattering seeds.
"Oh, I pray that I may be faithful and not mind about the success."
-- Rosetta Hall, 1890, missionary to Korea (1890-1933)