I can't believe how rapidly the days are ticking by now that we're in week three. Each day is as full as ever, with worship and group time in the morning, followed by TEFL baseball (our homework game) and TEFL instruction before lunch, and culture or spiritual cultivating in the afternoon, and practicum prep before dinner, and practicum followed by debrief followed by various activities (tonight, swing dancing!) at night. Yeah, it's pretty busy. But this Saturday the first teams depart for Vietnam. And next Sunday, my team gets on an airplane. Man, that came up fast! We switched dormitories on Tuesday, and we forecasted as we rolled our luggage between buildings, "Next time we take our suitcases down this path, we'll be headed to the airport."
|Practicum prep in the CIS team room.|
In one of our workshops this afternoon we talked about Bible studies in our host countries. How to respect the "no proselytizing to minors" law, reasons to host a study, the difference between eisegesis and exegesis, et cetera. The instructor talked about how he had found himself the teacher of a kids' church, how rewarding it was to take them through a study of the entire Bible, how he trained them to memorize verses and know the word. But my eyes filled with tears as he talked about the six kids in his very first class, how they had walked away from the faith and even how he had attended one student's funeral. How do you disciple youth, pour yourself so intentionally into others with faithfulness, knowing that so many will walk away?
(I have never wondered this about the students in Ignite. Even though I saw so many students walk away. Even though I saw so many youth leaders lose hope. But I think forward to my students at the language center, the friends I have yet to make, the trick dates and the dinner parties. I theorize about being used, people hanging out with me just for my language skills, being manipulated. I am not so cynical to expect it, but with anxiety I acknowledge the possibility.)
The workshop instructor asked the class how it was possible to maintain hope after the arguably "failure" of the kids' church, and they gave some great answers. If it mattered to just one student, it was worth it. His word does not go out void, seeds were planted. Those who turned away made the conscious choice to do so. And these answers were a comfort. But the instructor asked, what is the greatest way you can love someone?
Share the good news, we murmured.
The truth that gives life, sharing this with faithfulness is true love.
The older I get the more certain I become that loving fully and whole-heartedly will eventually mean heart-break. It hurt to hear of those first six students who had studied the whole Bible in their youth and hidden His word in their hearts had also turned away. But does that mean he ought never have poured into them? Of course not. I think of my teammates, newly married and in adorable love. Sometimes they get annoyed with each other, it's true, but does that mean they ought never have married? Of course not. Love will eventually break your heart. And if it doesn't then you're not doing it right.
And perhaps the reverse applies: if you try too hard to shield yourself from heart-break, you may miss many, many opportunities to love deeply, richly, truly. Is not love-given so much more important than collateral pain accrued? Why are we so afraid of the heartache when loving others is the very thing He has called us to? When I look forward to this year overseas, coming upon me oh so swiftly, I know I must give my whole self to this process. To be fully present. To be completely invested. To be intentional and purposeful and free with loving.
Loving without fear of how it will hurt.
So much easier said than done.