Monday, April 16, 2012

Who's Teaching Whom?

Last Tuesday I met with "Marie" for the third time. This session was at her home, right up the street from mine. She invited me into a lovely living room with walls the color of robins' eggs and then asked me her usual question, "How can I help you today?"

"Well," I replied, "You have already corrected my outline, so what I really think I need to practice is my examples. Those are the parts of my message where I tell stories, and I'd like them to sound natural and unscripted."

"Tell me your stories" she said expectantly.

"After I make the point that the Bereans were open to the things of God, I want to share something from a book that I just read." I went on to tell her this story:
In the book Surprised by Oxford, Carolyn Weber describes her journey towards faith. She was an atheist who earned a scholarship to study for her Masters in English Literature at Oxford University. During her first semester, she fell in with a group of friends, half of which were Christians.... 
While I spoke, Marie corrected my mistakes and taught me a few new expressions that would help to make my story sound more natural to French ears.  I took notes on everything she said!
Carolyn found that her new Christian friends were nothing like the stereotypical Christians of book and film. They were fun-loving, deep-thinking, interesting people! The more she got to know them the more she noticed something else: They were joyful and they had a sort of indescribable peace. 
I noticed that Marie was paying close attention to my story, but by this point she was no longer correcting me; rather, she was engaging in the story. "I know what you are talking about!" she interjected, "I know people like that, too!" I continued:
While she grew curious about her friends' faith, she began to look for ways to justify her own unbelief. She frequently engaged her friends in arguments and she even mocked them at times. Still, they loved her. Curiosity got the better of her and she began to read the Bible and go to church. While she found the person of Jesus and the message of the Bible compelling, she simply could not bring herself to believe.
I paused, and asked Marie if she was familiar with the story in Mark 9: 17-27. I said that during the sermon I will have read that passage, and that I would be referring to it at this point in my story. I opened my Bible and let Marie read the passage for herself. It is the story of a man who brings his demon possessed son to Jesus for deliverance. The man says, "if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us!" Jesus replies (I imagine that He raised one eyebrow as he spoke), repeating the man's own words "'IF you can?'" Jesus added, "Anything is possible for those who believe." Desperately the man cries, "I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief!" In other words, this poor man WANTS to believe, but he realizes that in reality he is lacking the faith that he so desperately needs.

Marie was captivated, tears brimming in her eyes. Cautiously, I proceeded with my story.
One night, alone in her room, Carolyn was reading her Bible and she came across this story in Mark 9:17-27. After she read it, she was dumbfounded. She writes, "I always thought that one had to have faith before praying. After reading this passage, it occurred to me that perhaps one must pray first--and then God gives faith." At that moment, Carolyn prayed, asking for faith, and God opened her eyes. She received faith as a gift and gave her life to Christ.
Marie sat back into the sofa, arms folded, pensive.  "I think" she said quietly but sincerely, "that God has sent me my own personal preacher. I think that He sent you to me because He knows just what I need to hear."

Now my eyes were the ones brimming with tears. The language learning was over, but something much deeper had just begun.


  1. tears in my eyes.
    Thank you Jesus!

  2. Oh, that's wonderful Aunt Jenn! Praise the Lord!

  3. What a wonderful testimony! Praise God.

  4. God works in mysterious ways ...and goes to great lengths bring the right people to the right place at the right time. He is amazing!

  5. Oh my goodness, Jenn! You made yourself available and transparent and God, once again, gave the increase. WOW! This was thrilling and a great faith-builder. Thankful for you!!