After a few weeks of teaching English conversation to some very unmotivated non-English majors in Japan, I wondered if I had really heard the Lord right. Was I really supposed to be teaching at this university? How could I possibly be useful to the Lord when it seemed most of my students simply slept through their Zoom classes?
The weekly student Bible study was different. It was a real joy to be part of this group. The students were mature, thoughtful, and wanted to grow deeper in their walk with Jesus.
One week, during our Bible study, I shared a little about how unmotivated my English students were and asked these Christian students to pray. Later that evening, one of the young ladies asked me: “As a teacher, how does it make you feel when your students don’t come to class or don’t do any work?”
“It makes me frustrated and sad,” I replied. “I want them to take my class seriously, not just because I worked hard to prepare for it, but because I want them to be the kind of people who want to do good work with whatever is put into their hands.”
“But what we do in class doesn’t really matter,” she replied. “We should share God’s love with our classmates, but since we can’t talk about God in class, we should just focus on activities outside of class.”
This led us into a long and interesting conversation about what it means to be a witness for Jesus. Can we be a good witness if we speak really well about God outside of class, but in class our attitude is poor and our work ethic non-existent? I asked her, “What kinds of tents do you think Paul made? Do you think he just rushed through his tent sewing so that he could go out and preach?”
“I’ve never thought about that,” she said. “I think Paul’s tents must have been a blessing to whoever bought them. I can’t imagine him making a leaky tent. So . . . maybe my attitude in class is part of how others see the character of God in me.”
I kept praying for this young woman throughout the weeks following our talk, and I was really encouraged when some time later she talked with me again. It turned out she had basically stopped going to classes the year before and had done very little work this year. “Our talk that night really helped me,” she said. “I’ve gone to my professors from last year and now have some make-up projects that I can do. I want to do a better job this year at being present on campus (or on Zoom!) and having a good attitude in class.”
All I could do was praise God! He could use even my questionable Japanese and my discouraged heart to help this young woman take a significant step of maturity. Maybe I was in the right place after all.
By Christina, an OMF missionary