Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Good Soil (Nathan Wagner)

Tonight, we have the third entry by my fellow WCS teacher and coach, Nathan Wagner. This evening, he writes about a young lady he met on a mission trip this summer to Ukraine with his lovely wife, Vicki.

Sometimes the seeds we plant take a while to grow. They take water, patience, time and nutrients. But sometimes the seeds we plant take to the soil immediately and begin to sprout and bloom into something beautiful. Vicki and I had a few experiences like this in Ukraine. Most of our readers were college-aged students on break for the summer.  One young lady that came to read with me was named Mary. She came to the first session in her finest dress with a lot of exuberance to meet an American. She wanted to talk about all sorts of things and always had a star-struck look in her eyes.  When I asked her what she thought about the reading, she said it was "interesting."  I wasn't sure if she would want to read or not, and I was uncertain if she would come back the next day.

She came back, though. And we repeated the process day after day. Meet, greet, read, vocabulary, talk, "interesting." After the first few meetings, I began to grow discouraged because it seemed like "interesting" was just a word to say dull. I was hoping for fascinating or wonderful, strong positive adjectives to describe the story of Jesus. Most of the time when I use the word interesting, it's because I wasn't paying attention and feel like that is a good neutral word to use. Mary's "interesting" left me disinterested.

Except she kept coming back. And she started coming every day, sometimes for two sessions back to back. It took me about a week to make a simple realization: interesting was the go to word to describe her genuine attraction to the story. Just like in my Spanish vocabulary, in which bueno and bien describe my life, food, and car, interesting was the best American word she had to describe the story. If only I had taught her intriguing!

As Mary's fascination grew, we got to a big moment in the Gospel of Luke--chapter nine. In chapter nine, Jesus predicts his death. As we slowly worked our way through the 21st and 22nd verses, Mary stopped at Jesus' prediction that he would be killed. She stopped immediately and looked back over the first part of the sentence, and then she looked again. She looked at me with disbelief in her eyes and asked why Jesus was going to die. She couldn't believe that the hero of the story would be killed. He wasn't supposed to be killed because he was a good man. With a smile on my face, I encouraged her to finish reading the sentence, the part where Jesus tells his disciples he will rise from the dead. Once again, she didn't hide her emotions. She was visibly relieved, and a door was opened for an important conversation.

I'm glad I got to experience that moment because that was the last time I saw Mary.  Two days later I flew home to America, but I know she will continue to read with the local church and continue to grow toward a new faith. It's always amazing to me how perfect God's timing is, and I feel so blessed in those moments when he lets us see a glimpse of his powerful plan at work.

God bless,

Luke 18:1
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