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Beginning Shy

“Lord, I want to serve You. I know this unexpected job offer in the Middle East is really a call from You. I don’t know where to start, but I am willing. Fill me with Your Spirit and use me, O Lord.”

It’s been three years since I prayed that prayer. The mission seemed daunting–to go to a world where millions of God’s children live without access to the assurance of God’s love.  And to think God was offering me the privilege of helping to reach them!   Would I be able to bridge across our cultural differences? Would I ever find the right words? Wasn’t I too shy anyway? 

In spite of my mustard-seed faith, my loving Savior has answered my prayer beyond what I could ever imagine. Shortly after we moved to the region for my husband’s job, a door opened for me to work as a tutor in students’ homes. I hadn’t planned on tutoring. The idea came from a friend who was a home tutor herself.  Since I had had previous experience, I decided to give it a try. I casually placed an advertisement on a tutoring website. I figured it would be a side job I could do for a few hours a week while being a stay-at-home mother. 

Little did I know it would become the very answer to my prayer and the doorway into the world around me. It turned into a precious opportunity to meet indigenous people in their homes, develop friendships, and share.  I was timid at first. Then, as my faith and confidence slowly grew, I realized I could be more open. The Lord has been patient, and He has placed just the right people along my path to nurture and encourage my efforts. Before each class, I pray for the Holy Spirit to lead me and touch my students’ hearts. I claim the promise in 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Time is short, and I want to let my little light shine brighter for His glory.

Home tutoring has recently been banned in my country due to the coronavirus pandemic, but I’ve been able to carry on, thanks to online platforms. I also keep in touch with my students through WhatsApp, where I occasionally offer a prayer and share an encouraging verse.  I am constantly touched by their positive responses. The Lord placed a burden on my heart to sent them wishes for Eid-Al-Adha, the most important Islamic holiday. This is when Muslims remember the story of Ibrahim’s  willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to God, and God’s miraculous provision of a lamb as a substitute for the sacrifice. 

I decided to share how inspiring this story has been to me.  At first I didn’t know what to say, so I prayed about it for two days. Once again, God answered my prayer. He gave me the exact words I needed. 

“….I have always been inspired by prophet Ibrahim. We have stories about him in our book as well. In Isaiah 29:22 it says the Lord ransomed Abraham. And Genesis 22 tells the story of his sacrifice:  ‘Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide.’ (Genesis 22:13-14) God bless you, my friend! May God fill your life with peace, faith, and hope.

I pressed the “send” button. Forty-two times, to be exact.  I sent it to every student, friend, and neighbor I had met over the previous three years. I waited; I prayed some more. Then began a flood of responses from friends who were touched by my greeting. One friend replied “Thanks for sharing the reference from the Old Testament.” Another said “When we read how prophets suffered to show their people the peace and right ways, we rethink about them and their efforts and are touched deeply.” This encouraged me to share a little more about the wonders of God’s grace:

You know, I just love the story of Ibrahim so much! He was willing to trust and obey God in everything. And God provided the sacrifice, the lamb… It was a free gift, because God is so merciful. He counted Ibrahim as righteous because of his faith. It’s a beautiful story that we have in common.

Conversations are still ongoing, and I don’t know where they will lead. My oldest son, who is six years old, suggests Bible verses for me to share and helps me go through the list to pray for each name. We pray God will use us as vessels and pour the oil of His blessings into our friends’ lives, just as the widow and her sons did in the days of prophet Elisha (2 Kings 4:1-7). She had nothing to offer except for a small jar of oil, but the Lord multiplied it to fill all of her neighbor jars to the brim! 

A few weeks ago, my son watched a video of the Hajj pilgrimage. He was moved by a close-up image of a man praying. As the man looked up toward heaven, we could see pure anguish on his face.

“Why does he look so sad, Mommy?”

“Because he is trying so hard to be forgiven for his sins.  But he doesn’t know if he has done enough to be accepted by God. Despite his best efforts to please God, he will leave the place without an assurance of salvation.”

“Oh, Mommy, that’s so sad! He doesn’t know God will forgive him directly if he just asks… He doesn’t know Jesus died on the cross for his sins… We need to tell him!  He needs to know!”

Our conversation has become my new motivation. We need to tell them!  They need to know! I am nothing but a small jar with a little oil, but I pray for God’s abundant blessing.  If He can use a feeble, hesitant servant like me, he can use anyone.  And yes, He can work through you, too.  –EM