I’m not normally an overly emotional person. Sure, I’ll share in your basic, standard emotive range: happy, sad, angry, hungry*, etc., but I’ve never really gone for the gushy, waterworks stuff. Crying, especially, isn’t something I’m really into. Getting so worked up that you uncontrollably start leaking bodily fluids just seems a little over-the-top, you know?
Well, I guess I’m going to need to get my estrogen levels checked, or something, because over the last two days, I’ve come remarkably close to losing it on more than one occasion. In my defense though, watching first-hand, as a people’s eyes are opened to an understanding of the depths of Christ’s love for them, and hearing them voice, for the first time, their incredible awe and gratitude…come on, I didn’t stand a chance.
The Iski in our village heard 4 hours of teaching yesterday morning, effectively wrapping up the last 3 ½ months of daily chronological Bible lessons that our team has been presenting. They heard about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. They heard how those events were the culmination of all of God’s promises regarding their sin and their need of a Savior. They heard how it completely satisfied God’s judgment of sin and offered them new life. And then, later on that afternoon, they heard it all again (voluntarily), via digital recordings of the morning lessons.
All of yesterday, the village was pretty subdued. Pretty anti-climactic, actually. And then this morning, after we taught a short, little lesson about how Christ went back to heaven, promising to return again, we opened it up for thoughts from the community. What followed was awesome. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard more beautiful renditions of what it is to understand grace for the first time:
“I believe that this is true. I was a sinner since I was born. I was born under Satan’s clan. Yesterday, I heard the story of the Savior who died for me, and I believed it. Jesus died and said to his father, ‘Why did you forsake me?’ I understand what that means, and I’m healed from my sin.” – Makoleta
“God suffered and carried my pain. Before, we heard the story of Jesus healing the blind man. I was blind, but yesterday my eyes were opened.” – Rudolph
“We have heard the stories and that we are separated from God. John the Baptist, when he saw Jesus, he said “Here is God’s lamb.” Yesterday, we heard the story of the Savior who died for us. It was big for me. God had mercy on us and came down to save us. He took our sin. He took MY sin. He was separated from God for me.” – Avara
“If I don’t believe, the separation between God and me will stay when I die, but I believe that this talk is true and that I am saved.” – Greg
“I heard the story of the Savior that died for me. God is love and sent his Son to save us, to save me. I understood that God died for me. God sent Jesus to save Boni. God bought me back from Satan’s clan.” – Boni
“It is true for me, the Savior came, a lamb without spot died for me.” – Bnaga
“This talk that we heard from the beginning, that God would send a Savior; now I understand it. He suffered for me and died for me. I believe it. It blows my mind. The death and resurrection of Jesus, if you believe it, you will be all right, and I believe it.” – Tobias
“It’s big. I am not going to do any work to save myself. I will hide under the blood of the Savior.” – Alvis
“Before, I used to try to go to God with my own strength. Before, I could not kill my own sins. I tried, but I could not. I was like a blind pig in the pig’s fence. Since my mother gave birth to me, I could not do anything good, only bad things. I was in the pig’s fence, and you missionaries were outside the fence. For a while, I thought that you would be the ones that would get us out. But now I understand that there is only one way, and that it is Jesus that is the one saving us. I heard the story of Adam and of the promised Savior. I heard that Jesus suffered and died for me. He got me out of that fence, took my sin, and put me in his good fence, and the bad smell is over. Now I’m clean in God’s eyes. Now the door of the road that goes to God is open, and I can go to him!” – Priska
“I’m so thankful to your families, to your parents, who sent you with your children, with their grandkids. If they had not helped you and sent you, we would not have heard this talk, but they did. Now we are all one clan: God’s clan. We are all brothers and sisters, and we will see your families in heaven. Before we were worshipping Satan, now we want to worship God alone!” – Cecilia
If your eyes are dry after reading all that, then you’re a robot.
Please join us in thanking God for the miracle he has worked in the hearts of our dear Iski friends! Another language will be represented around the throne of grace, singing unending praises to the God who gave up everything to give them new life!
The Iski church has been born, and it is beautiful!**
* For me, hunger is in its own special class of “gateway emotion.” If you want to see me being irrationally difficult to be around, skipping a few meals is all it will take.
** Aw, man, there I go again, choking back tears of joy. I think I need to go eat some red meat and do something manly…