Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Long Division and the Gospel

It was a half-hearted prayer.  Words spoken more out of habit and duty than sincerity and love.  To be quite honest, I was perfectly content to continue riding in silence, contemplating my own life in my own little bubble.  But we were on our way to Monday night tutoring.  That meant we were supposed to pray.  So it went something like this:  Lord,  please bless our time with these children tonight.  Please help us be able to help them with their work, despite the language barrier.  Please help them see Your love through us tonight, and help us be able to share Christ with them.  In Jesus' name, Amen. 

By "them," I meant...

And my friends Shalom and Claude...

Every Monday night, I go with three other girls to tutor a group of neighborhood kids through a ministry called YWAM (Youth With A Mission).  The YWAM staff opens their home to these children every night to assist with homework and provide basic tutoring.  Some of the children are orphans; others simply have no one at home who is able or available to help them with their school work.  It has become a highlight of my week, but as you can see from the beginning of this post, my heart isn't always where it needs to be before we arrive. 

But God's always is.

Last night Shalom, Claude, and I were working through their math practice book like we usually do.  It looks like this:

You may not be able to tell from the picture, but it's in French.  Do I speak French?  Not so much.  My conversation in French last night was the equivalent of the following translated into English:  "You eat today?...I eat spaghetti...You favorite?...This Mercy Ship (Shalom was examining my ID badge)...I sleep on the ship.  Ship is my house."  Yeah, I'm almost as fluent as Tarzan. The idea of me tutoring them is comical to say the least.  And last night we conquered long division.  (If you've ever tried to teach long division to any child, you've probably already recognized this as answered prayer number one.)

Then something really cool happened.  I always bring a bag of resources from the ship.  When their homework is complete, Shalom and Claude love to make games out of the flash cards or read one of the books.  Last night, Claude chose a book about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  We started to read, and Claude seemed really interested in the pictures.  I pulled our translator Nestor over to help me have a "real" conversation with Claude, and I asked, "Do you know why Jesus died?"

"No," Claude said.  And then came answered prayer number two.

In simplistic, messily-translated sentences, I was able to share with Claude that we all do wrong things.  Jesus never did anything wrong, but He died to take the punishment for the wrong things we've done.  After He died, He rose again--God brought Him back to life!  Because He died, we are able to ask God to forgive us for the wrong things we've done. 

"Compris?" I asked. (Understand?) 

"Yes," he said.

It wasn't a perfect presentation of the Gospel.  I didn't quote Scripture.  I didn't even begin to explain sin, its consequences, or the gift of eternal life through faith in Christ.  But I don't doubt for a second that if God can use a tired, distracted, self-centered teacher--who didn't feel like praying and who barely speaks a lick of French--to share why Jesus came, He will certainly continue to reveal Himself to this precious little boy.

I'm so thankful for a God who hears and answers our prayers, even the half-hearted ones.  When we least deserve to be used, He proves that it isn't about us being worthy, equipped, or even motivated to be used in the first place.  He had a plan for Claude last night, and He wasn't about to let me get in the way of it.

"I know that You can do all things.  No plan of Yours can be thwarted." ~Job 42:2    


  1. Wow, Haley -- you put it all into perspective. Thank you!

    Aunt Laura

  2. Haley; This post was so meaningful to me & reminded me so much of how we go through life doing things half-heartedly as we pray, or witness to someone & then God steps in & takes charge & gives it a new perspective & then it becomes real to us. I have prayed so many times when I felt like I was just saying the words, until God gave me a new jolt to make me really think of what I was saying. I love you ! Mema

  3. This is wonderful. May it bear fruit that will last unto eternal life.
    It is a real encouragement to me as I head off to Russia in July to share the gospel with young people. My Russian is very poor and I shall need all the help the Lord can give.

  4. Isn't it amazing when God opens those kinds of doors? I had a similar experience with a little boy while I was in Detroit. It's amazing to see how God can use to simplest things.