|My friend Stella shares her testimony with the female students Saturday afternoon.|
"We have a very generous God who wants to give you the greatest gift of all. Do you know what that is?"
"It is Himself," I tell the gathered girl students, nearly all dressed alike in red and white school shirts and assorted black skirts. They sit in wooden desks in the brick classroom on a hot and dry Saturday afternoon.
"God knows your heart, your desires - He knows the gift you need today."
After four years of living and working on the island, and putting almost all of my concentration and energy into the young people who populate Lingira Living Hope Secondary School, I sometimes still feel at a loss.
This evening, after the afternoon session by some visiting speakers with our secondary students, I cried out to God.
"God, what do they need?" I was once again frustrated by the lack of visible response from the students to the messages shared.
How do I know that what I am speaking is what they need to hear? How do I know it is making sense? That it is crossing the language and cultural barriers that exist? How do I know that they are not just inwardly shrugging me off because I am white, because I am female, because I am different than they are.
He knows my name,
He knows my every thought.
He sees each tear that falls,
And He hears me when I call.
That simple worship chorus spoke volumes to me a couple of years ago when I struggled with similar doubts and questions. I realized then as I remember now, it is not whether I know the students as well as I should. It is not about whether I can speak their mother tongue, or I know their cultural or tribal backgrounds. It is not about if I have passed through similar experiences (which for the most part, I have not). It is not about me.
And honestly, they don't need me.
They need God, the One who knows them - intimately. And they need Him above all else.
I cling to this unshakable and undeniable truth. I can trust the All-Seeing, All-Knowing, Ever-Faithful, Never-Changing God and Heavenly Father to know the hearts and minds of each young woman and each young man here. They think no one really knows them, understands about them, cares about their hearts and their futures.
They have been hurt, disappointed, abused, neglected, abandoned, and despised by others. They have been called stupid, worthless, and worse. After awhile, you wonder if anyone really cares, who will not just later hurt and disappoint you.
What do they need above else? Jesus Himself. The One who has sought them doggedly, pursued them relentlessly, loved unconditionally, forgiven sacrificially, who sees them as beautiful and worth pursuing because they are created in the sacred image of the Father.
He is the Shepherd seeking for His lost sheep.
And He will not give up.
It's not about me, about have the "right" message or the best method. It is about being an arrow pointing back to Him. It is about being a conduit of His love and grace.
The students don't need me. They need Jesus.
The world does not need us. The world needs Jesus.