When I tell people that I am a summer missionary, most people begin to look at me differently. But when I start to tell jokes, laugh, and be silly, they are really taken aback. It is as if becoming a summer missionary has now made it illegal for me to have fun. In all honesty, being a summer missionary contains almost too much fun. I do not bring up a spiritual topic every time I have a conversation (although I do steer the conversation to be one that is filled with salt and light). Actually, where I spend most of my time is on the basketball court.
As it turns out, the small town atmosphere of Grand Isle is very enthusiastic about basketball.
And as God would have it, basketball is my favorite sport (I like the way they dribble up and down the court etc etc). Since coming to this island, I have played two to three games of one-on-one and 21 a day. I play with five year olds, teenagers, and even my fellow missionaries.
To the disappointment of my eager and fast-paced personality, I have not had one conversion for Christ amidst all this basketball. I spend most of my time sweating in spite of my out-of-shapeness. Why is it so hard for these kids that I spend so much time with getting to know and playing with to finally open up to me? My frustration springs not from rationality but from my pride. I want to bear the honor of bringing the masses to Christ.
But what did Paul say? Some of us water. Some of us plant the seed. But it is all God’s work.
Any time we tell the gospel, whether it is indirectly through our daily lives or directly through our words, we will not ever completely understand the immediate and/or long-term effect. Maybe the one receiving the gospel will understand it on the spot or maybe in years from now. The worst thing any of us can do is force the response we want because it may not be the one we want that is the actual one that is felt.
With each telling of the gospel, we are taking “steps” towards salvation. How many times did you have to hear the gospel until you understood it? One time? I highly doubt that. Did you have to hear four times? Maybe 7 times? So, perhaps this time you tell the gospel to a person, it will be just one of the many times they will need to hear it. But it is just as important that you tell it because they need it.
If God gets all the honor and glory, does it really matter who gets the honor to lead a person to Christ? No, it only matters that a soul is won regardless of who did it.
That’s what I have to remember every time I play yet another game of 21. Sometimes it is with a kid that we were all sure that understood God’s love, yet maybe the kid needed to a physical reminder of what love looks like. So, I play even with the aching of knees. Maybe I need to play with a kid that is new to even the idea of church being fun. So, I play even with sleep clouding my mind. Maybe I need to play one more game of around-the-world with a youth helper who thought Christianity was only for kids. So, I play even with my face turning a deeper shade of red.
We never know where someone is in their faith walk. Maybe they need the encouragement or the laugh or just a friend. Dark days fall on us all, but most of us try to hide this fact that we still struggle even after being saved. So, I play just one more game for times such as these.
Week 2 is complete, and we are gearing up for another week of silly songs, prayers of no more island-wide power outages, and of course lots of basketball. Until next time, my friends 🙂