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Shining light by teaching English

I came to the climax of the day’s Bible story—“Be Silent!” Jesus said to the wind and the waves.

A little boy in the corner of the elementary-school age English class put his hand up. I thought, Wow, the first question anyone has ever asked during our Japanese Bible time!

“Ahh, are you telling us to be quiet or was that just from the story?” asked the boy (in Japanese). Well, at least he listened to something

It is a wonderful privilege and a huge blessing to connect with the various kids and parents who come to our English classes. On top of that we get to convey basic biblical truths. Each week we prepare classes, prepare a Bible talk in Japanese, prepare our house, and pray that the Lord would use the time to convey the love of Jesus and spark an interest in Christ.

Some weeks we are passionate and thrilled to be involved in such a worthy and meaningful task.

But other days it just feels like we are walking through wet concrete and achieving nothing. The kids fight and yell and don’t listen. Some are not interesting in learning English and chat all through the Bible talk. My Japanese still isn’t very good so I wonder if they can even understand the Bible story at all. The challenges can seem formidable.

In these more difficult moments I have often reflected on the verses in 2 Corinthians 5:19-20:

“And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (NIV).

Even when the kids are crazy and hard to manage I often think about the role we have as Christ’s ambassadors. These kids probably have no experience or understanding of Christianity other than what they see and hear from us. What they see in our actions, words, and service is the only exposure to Jesus’ love they may see.

One week I was teaching the Christmas story after the English class. I set up a nativity scene and asked who knew the real story of Christmas. No one knew. In that moment it struck me how important these little English classes are. We are sowing gospel seeds where none existed. We are shining light where there has only been darkness. We are proclaiming Christ where he was not known.

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent” (Romans 10:14 NIV)?

By Paul, an OMF missionary

Will you pray for Japan?

  • Pray that Japanese will hear the gospel and believe.
  • Pray that missionaries will persevere through the tough days, keeping their eyes on the goal of sowing seeds.
  • Pray for more missionaries willing to teach English.

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