Just the Right Words

By Anonymous

After I don’t know how many hundreds of hours of language study, I was finally ready to share the full gospel. I wasn’t fluent, but I was past the giddiness at being able to barter for fruit without getting ripped off. I was past being able to sit at a large feast with other women for a few hours during the religious festival, making polite conversation all evening without sounding like a three year old. I had better skills than when I was able to share jokes with new friends in the small store near our house. I had better language skills than what I needed when praying with others and sharing brief stories of God working in my life.

In entering , alongside the startling sights, foreign smells and ancient customs, I had experienced “brain aches” from exposure to a new worldview. There were word mix-ups, like when, for her first few weeks here, my teammate confused the word for “husband” with the one for “toilet” (and she referred to her husband a lot). There were many “notes to self ”: Don’t tell people their baby is beautiful or they may fear the evil eye will touch them. Don’t whistle inside, laugh too loud outside, put your bread on the table face down or talk about pregnancy in front of men. DO greet each person in the room individually—“Hey, ya’ll” doesn’t count.

And then there were the prayers. The public prayers for favor and grace and boldness and sanity. The secret prayers for wisdom when disciplining children and for peace during marital conflict. And the “Lord, please protect my stomach; I’m tired of diarrhea” prayers. There were the thousands of intercessions and intercessors, lifting up our family with pleas for God’s glory to be revealed in this least reached area of the world. Some of these people also bypassed special treats at Starbucks and didn’t touch their bonus checks from work so that they could give more to the Great Commission Fund, our source of support.

So there I was with my neighbor, drinking tea. My daughter was pretending to be a rock star, the music echoing from my tiny office. Our boys were wrestling on the floor. Our toddlers were getting fussy, their tummies rumbling for dinner. It had been only about 24 hours since I had learned to tell the gospel in my friend’s language and yet I started very naturally with these new words and phrases to explain the truth that reconciled people to God. At the end I gave her an opportunity to respond. All heaven rejoiced as Jesus transferred my friend from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of light, and she became a new creation.

She told me later that as I was talking, events from her past were brought to her memory. She had always considered herself a good person, but without my mentioning anything specific, a flood of guilt revealed to her that she wasn’t as pure as she thought. She remembered the times she had gossiped against in-laws to stir up trouble and the times at her old job at a preschool when she and the other cooks would take meat home instead of using it for the children’s soup. Never before had she felt guilty about what was unholy to God, but at that moment, conviction invaded her, and there was a longing for a solution to her sin. Without this longing, no one can find the desire or humility it takes to come before God for salvation.

And that was the beginning of her journey.

Whenever I became discouraged with being an international worker, I could always look to the miracle of new life in Jesus exemplified by my friend down the street. The Kingdom of God was growing like yeast, working its way through her life. What a magnificent thing to be part of! There were many questions and prayers and hours and hours of talking, covering every aspect of life, as the Word of God crept into, seeped into, leaped into her heart. One week she forgave her enemies, leaving justice and vengeance to the Lord. She said that a weight had been lifted off her, almost physically, and a sense of lightness helped her float about in joy that week. She confessed of trusting in manmade idols to protect her from the so-called evil eye, so beads and talismans were cut and crushed as she turned from superstitions to the living Jesus, who has authority over everything.

In time, other members of her family came to Christ, relationships were formed with other believers and sweet fellowship occurred. Of course, there still are days of struggle in a world filled with temptations, but there is now life in the Son!

And all those hours of study and proficiency tests and vocabulary words don’t seem like such a big deal now that I see how they have been used in the hands of a mighty God.

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