Today was an interesting day. We were supposed to start to have our students make presentations. I did the devotional illustrating how to study Mark 1:21-39. I thought it went well and was excited to begin hearing from the students. They were supposed to prepare sermon presentations before they came to the workshop, but we found out that none of them had. I was shocked. It turns out that they did not distribute the material until they came to the workshop on Monday, and nobody had done the homework. They explained that it is not possible to get the material to the students if not handed out during the previous workshop, something they had not told me. Most live in remote areas without email or a way to receive the materials. Our whole scheduled was ruined, or so I thought. I accepted it fairly well and we gave them the morning to work on their presentations. After one hour they all said they were done. I was once again shocked. How can you do all the study necessary to preach a sermon in one hour? This was a helpful thing to see so I could address this issue with them. God does know what He is doing. If they had done their homework before they came, I never would have discovered this and would not have been able to encourage them to work harder in study.
We had asked them yesterday to tell us the significant problems in the Lahu church and the number one issue was the fact that many Lahu Christians live no differently than the unsaved. Mike and I tried to decide how to address this issue biblically, and finally decided on a couple of passages, Ephesians 4:17 –24 and Titus 3:3-7. We had no prep time so it was designed to be a group Bible study on these passages. Mike took Ephesians and did an amazing job finishing in a way that led perfectly into what I was going to do. After Titus I went on to Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 to show how the Spirit uses the Word to renew our minds, and how it is critical for them to preach the Word so their people can experience this since so many of them are illiterate. I just don’t know how it could have gone better even if we planned for weeks. God is so good to lead us in teaching these men in ways that really helps them. I think they really understood the importance of what we are teaching them for the first time.
Marting, the leader, told me that he had been trying to use our approach in his preaching. One thing that he noticed is that people were actually interested in hearing what he said and were paying attention. I have noticed at the chapels that almost no one pays attention when the speaker preaches. I assume that is because they have all heard the sermons before. But when one shows them what God is actually saying in His Word, they get very interested. These are the times when it is so much fun to do what we do.
Tomorrow will be another interesting day. I do not know how we are going to adjust the schedule to fit the time we have but I am certain God does. And, His way works just fine. Thanks so much for praying for us. Today is one illustration of how your prayers help us do what God has called us to do, and to do it with joy.