One of the cool things I’ve been able to do this semester is meet with a group of teachers and high school students who are interested in combating injustice. This group came about after one of the teachers discussed the purpose and mission of International Justice Mission (IJM) during high school chapel. We have been meeting every other week and going through a study put together by IJM specifically for high school students. There have been some great discussions, but what I am the most excited about is that we have a group of students who want to take action. You can pray for our group in the coming months and into the next year as we look at what is being done in Vienna to help the oppressed. We are going to be meeting with a few people who are working in the city with prostitutes, refugees, and others. As the students hear about the work being done, they are going to develop an action plan for getting involved. I’m excited to see what the Lord is going to do through them!
Matt and I are reading a Lenten devotional by Henri Nouwen called Show Me the Way. I’m two days behind (of course) so I just read the devotional for Saturday. It’s about returning to God. He uses the story of the prodigal son as reference. I like what Nouwen had to say because he talks about the fact that the son returned for entirely selfish reasons, a fact that has always kind of bothered me. But then he talks about how God views us. I absolutely love the picture he gives of God’s response to us when we return – selfishly or not.
But Jesus came to open my ears to another voice that says, “I am your God, I have molded you with my own hands, and I love what I have made. I love you with a love that has no limits. Do not run away from me. Come back to me – not once, not twice, but always again. You are my child. How can you ever doubt that I will embrace you again, hold you against my breast, kiss you and let my hands run through your hair? I am your God – the God of mercy and compassion, the God of pardon and love, the God of tenderness and care. Please do not say that I have given up on you, that I cannot stand you any more, that there is no way back. It is not true. I so much want you to be with me. I so much want you to be close to me. I know all your thoughts. I hear all your words. I see all of your actions. And I love you because you are beautiful, made in my own image, an expression of my most intimate love. Do not judge yourself. Do not condemn yourself. Do not reject yourself. Let my love touch the deepest, most hidden corners of your heart and reveal to you your own beauty, a beauty that you have lost sight of, but that will become visible to you again in the light of my mercy. Come, come, let me wipe your tears, and let my mouth come close to your ear and say to you, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.'”
~ Henry Nouwen, Show Me the Way, pg. 76-77
Then he offers this simple prayer that I am praying right now:
O Lord, my Lord,
help me to listen to your voice
and to decide for your mercy.
This is turning out to be a multiple post day!
I just had another amazing conference. I spoke with a mom who is a Christian, but her husband is not. Her son became a Christian when he was in first grade. She spoke with me about how much this school means to her and her son because her son is not allowed to attend church with her, but that Jesus has allowed him to be in this school. She shared with me about how excited her son is to have Chapel here each week because that is church for him.
She asked that we pray for her family, for her husband’s salvation, for God’s continued grace to allow her son to attend our school, and for her son to continue to love God with all his heart. I can’t wait to pray for them!
Today is parent/teacher conference day. I actually love this day because it’s the one time during the year that I get to really have a focused conversation with each of the parents. Today I was reminded, in the best possible way, of the impact we are having on our students.
One of the parents I met with today said that she wanted to thank me for doing something special for her daughter. They have been talking to their daughter about what she wants to do when she grows up. Her answer is that she wants to grow up and be a missionary teacher! Her parents are so excited.
Here’s the amazing part of the story, though. This family is from Vietnam. However, their daughter has never lived there. She was born in Holland, has Australian (yes, the one with kangaroos) citizenship, and lives in Austria. She is fluent in German and English and understands quite a bit of Vietnamese. She often talks about not being sure who she is or where she’s from. But – and this is the amazing part – she feels now like she has found Vietnam in her heart. She wants to be missionary teacher in Vietnam so she can tell the people about Jesus!
Her mom and I were crying and getting so excited. Please join us in praying for her that the Lord will continue to grow in her a love for Jesus and desire to share him with the world.
For the past few weeks we’ve been learning about the attributes of Jesus: He is divine, He is human, He is our substitute. This week as we discussed what it means for Jesus to be our substitute we talked about why He had to be divine and human in order to take our place. I asked the students who know Jesus to tell me about when they accepted Christ, and those who don’t to tell me about questions or doubts they have. Here are some highlights from what they said.
When I was small I got baptised with floaties on. After that hapened I was so proud of my self! We got to go to KFC to celebrate Jesus.——————————————–When I prayed for Jesus to enter my heart I never dreamt bad dreams any more starting from September up till today.——————————————–
I accepted Jesus in my heart when Jerry Jecoby was haear when I did it I felt so so so happy.——————————————–
I think jesus is my savior and my superhero because his better than superman spiderman….., Before my aunt tell that jesus is with me because I was scared that time when I’m sleeping so I pray to jesus after I pray I dream jesus is with me.——————————————–
I have asked Jesus into my heart and I believe that he is going to be with me forever. Jesus is only one that can help us. He never sin because he is the perfect man. I asked Jesus into my heart when I was in third grade.
This was our journal question a few weeks ago. Here are a couple answers that I just loved.
I think about God that he is the best person ever and he give us our lives and I believe in him. I think about when I go to heaven that it would be awsome because I am going to be with the person that I always want to be. I love God and Jesus and I believe that Jesus died on the cross for take our sin and I believe that Jesus will come back.—————————————————-
I think God is a hero because he saves, and protects us. God is such good God because he died for us. He is the one and only God we should love and praise. When I go to heaven I will love and praise him more.
Each Thursday we have Elementary Chapel. It’s a great time and I think I enjoy it even more because it’s primarily run by the students. Anyway, on Thursdays we don’t have a Bible lesson because we have Chapel. Today one of my students asked me why we don’t have Bible on Chapel days. I explained that we use our Bible time to go to Chapel. Then she asked why we couldn’t do both. I asked if she would like that, and the whole class said, “Yes! We should do that. We love Bible.” How great is that? I think we might have to rearrange our Thursday schedule to accommodate them. :)
Today we talked about the word hero. I read the story Teammates which is about the friendship of Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese. If you don’t know the story, it’s about the season that Jackie Robinson first began playing for the Dodgers and the violent reactions from players and fans. More than that, though, it’s about the determination and character of Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, and Branch Rickey. We got to the part of the story where the fans are taunting Jackie Robinson then Pee Wee Reese walks to him and puts his arms around him and says, “This man is my teammate.” (Which makes me cry everytime!) I asked the students what they thought happened in the crowd, and Miguel had this answer:
Maybe before that they were blinded by the power of evil but Jesus was able to show them that they were wrong and wipe the blindness from their eyes. Then they would know that it doesn’t matter what color your skin is.
Wow! I think he got it!
I was supposed to fly back to Austria last Friday. However, neither my family nor I were quite ready for me to leave, so we changed my ticket to allow us five extra days together. Little did I know that God had big plans for these extra days. Part of my time at home has been about visiting friends and family, but part of it has been work, because I have to raise $2,000 in monthly support. Yesterday I was about halfway to that goal. However, this morning at church, Pastor Olson wanted me to share a specific story that I had told him about one of my students. Considering that I wasn’t even supposed to be in the country, it was amazing that not only was I there, but I had a story to share that fit in perfectly with the sermon he was preaching. After I shared, Pastor Olson called on the congregation to think about supporting me. I had to send my dad home to get pledge cards because so many people decided to join my support team. God is amazing! I thought I was just spending a few extra days with my family, but He had much bigger plans. Plans to keep his promise that if I’m obedient to His calling, He will provide and provide abundantly.
Yesterday I went to a memorial service for Danny Davis. As people shared memories of Danny, there was one phrase that I heard over and over, “Danny made me feel like I mattered.” What a great legacy to leave! It made me reflect on my own interactions with people. So often I rush through conversations, or listen half-heartedly, or interrupt with my own drama – even when I know that someone is struggling. How many times have I missed opportunities to love someone well because I was being selfish? How many times have I missed opportunities to make someone feel like they matter because I was in a hurry? This is my new goal. Knowing how selfish I am, this is going to be a tall order, but I think it’s a goal worth setting.