God is moving in amazing ways here.
I am only halfway through my third day of teaching, and I have already seen hunger within my students that I can’t wait to see God fill. They are asking questions–good questions, hard questions, questions that show that they want to understand the story and not just the English. It’s amazing.
I have had some exciting attempts at trying to define mist, the difference between energy and power, what a ram is to someone who doesn’t know what a sheep is (“is it like a donkey?”… “so it’s like a deer?”), the word naked in mixed company, angels (“so they’re not like satan?”), etc., all in really basic English. I have also had some really funny questions that were decently easy to answer, such as “So is he old? Or not?” when we talked about God being eternal, or whether or not Abraham and Sarah got pregnant from having sexual intercourse (because they were so old). But I’ve also had some real challenges.
The first day of class, my most challenging questions were from old students who had been studying here for a while. First, I was asked why Rebekah loved Jacob more than Esau (“I have no idea”). Then, I was reading through the story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and my student said that she wanted faith like Abraham (which was really exciting!)…
“but, teacher, can I ask, how do you feel when God asks you to kill your son?” Eesh.
But that one wasn’t nearly so challenging as my other big question of the day, from my student who has been studying at the BEST Center the longest. It went something along the lines of, “if something was too hard for someone, so he prayed to God and God helped him be able to do it, and then he took all the credit and said he did it all by himself, how would God respond? Would he punish the man?”
The next day, the same girl asked me “if someone is the only Christian in their family, and the rest of the family doesn’t have faith in God, and the Christian prays and asks God to help the other people in the family, will he help?”
Other questions I’ve been asked:
“Why does God not have a wife?”
“Why didn’t God just make Eve out of red clay when he made Adam?”
“How did we learn about the day and the night if there were no humans yet when God created it?”
Thank you Holy Spirit for giving me answers!
The curriculum we use begins at creation, and I have many new students that are beginning at this point. After reading, we talk about parts of the story to make sure they have understood everything. Yesterday, after reading about how the intricacy of our bodies shows how intelligent God is, one of my male students made a comment that he thinks that God maybe created our body parts, but doesn’t know how they are specific to each person. For example, he made everyone’s brains, but he doesn’t know whether each person is smart or dumb, etc. It left God in his mind as a skilled craftsman, but not involved personally with how we each are individually. So I began to tell him that no, actually, God know how each one of us works, and created all of us to be unique and different. I told him that God knows exactly how he thinks, how he feels, and how God created him specially to be exactly who he is.
He got so excited.
Then we opened our Bibles to Psalm 139:13-16, and read what David had to say about the way that God created him. My student soaked it in. He was smiling the whole time, and he asked, “so God made me me?” It was so amazing. To most people, “gods” aren’t supposed to care about us individually; they are impersonal and distant. But not our God. Not the real God, the living God. No, he loves you and he loves me and he loves all of the Khmer people of Cambodia as well. And it is good news to them! Even before Jesus, even before salvation from our sins and a God who walks among his people, it is good news to simply be special and unique to God. To know that he cared enough to create us as individuals instead of just making random copies. How often we forget how amazing this is.
After reading the same story, I asked one group of students what the most meaningful thing about Lesson One was to them. I have a boy in that class that I often don’t think understands what we read, so I wasn’t expecting much…but what he said was wonderful: “Before, I sometimes wonder, where do I come from?… but now I know that God made me.” AAH!
Today, another girl reread a passage and then asked incredulously if God really just spoke and things appeared, to make sure she understood what she was reading, and when I said yes! she started laughing in amazement and said, “Ohh, so powerful!!”
I have had two female students who were Buddhist before they began this course both tell me that they pray. One told me that she believes that God can help her, so when something hard comes or she feels bad or wants to do something bad, she prays and asks for help. She said that God always helps her. When she began to talk about it, she started smiling and you could see her joy. The other girl told me that she prays when she feels bad and that God helps her, and she LIT UP when she talked about it. She said that she feels like no one cares about her stories, but that she knows Jesus does.
And then today, in class, one of my students began to ask me all sorts of questions. “Is Abraham still alive? Are well all descendants of Abraham? Does Isaac have a wife? Why does God not have a wife? Is God everywhere? Is God still alive?” and then he asked me the most amazing thing–
“So if we have a problem and we want God to help us, how do we call on him?”
To many people, spending a lot of money to go to a hot, humid, impoverished country and teach English for free probably sounds like a pretty boring/awful way to spend your summer. But I can’t imagine many things that could be more exciting than what God has asked me to do here. I literally dance out of my seat at the end of classes in excitement. I can see God’s Spirit moving in the hearts of people right in front of my eyes. And to know that God entrusted me with a role in it all…what could be greater than that?