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Notches In My Bible

“How many people have you saved?” the older woman asked me and it cut through me like a hot knife through butter. I felt the hair on the back of my neck (which as I approach 50 years old is more than ever) stand on end. My heart started racing. I fumbled for an answer. My social anxiety kicked into high gear. I gave some lame answer like, “I don’t really measure our ministry like that”. It wasn’t a good answer. After all we had only been in Rwanda for 2 years and this was our first trip back to the states. This old woman sincerely wanted to know what results we had seen so far.

Truth be told I have always struggled with this question. It seems so impersonal like I am putting notches in my Bible for everyone to see. But maybe she hit on a nerve because deep down I know I really suck at “closing the deal”. I have heard and read so many incredible stories of evangelists who have altar calls and scores of people come forward to make the decision to be a Christ follower. So why do I have such a problem with it? Peter in the book of Acts preached and 3,000 came to a saving faith. Why can’t I be like Peter?

Theologically I have issues with decision theology. All of my education has made me such a critical thinker that sometimes I feel it has done more harm than good. I find decision theology focused on what we do and not on what God’s Spirit is doing in us. I am much more of a response and relational theology guy. I like to emphasize what God is doing already and that we are just finally responding to it by not rejecting it. It’s much less flashy and kind of boring compared to decision theology. It takes a lot longer to develop relationships with people and help them see God working in their every day life. It’s walking along side our neighbors and living life together: The good, the bad and everything in between.

I know I miss opportunities to share Jesus with people. I am more timid than I should be when the opportunity arises. I look at our ministry in Rwanda as more a long distance race than a sprint. Our influence on these students is a long term investment. Young children are impressionable and we have seen God using Joy Christian School to show his grace to them and their family.

Eide Phonse came to our school with his sister. They were selected by the local leaders as a family in crisis. My first impression of Eide Phonse was stark. He was tiny and malnourished. I feared that he could drop over dead from lack of calories. Fast forward 2 years and Eide Phone is unrecognizable from those first few weeks. He is strong and healthy. His smile lights up the room. When he sings “Jesus loves me this I know”…I believe him. God is doing something inside him and his family. We hope to one day put he and his sister through college or trade school and give them a career that will support their own families. City of Joy is about educating and discipling followers of Jesus: Regardless of how long it takes we will be here.

Will you come along side us and pray for these students? The amazing thing that is happening is that my families’ faith is being strengthened by being in Rwanda. We are actually receiving much more than we could ever give. Maybe this is why we are in Rwanda. To have our neighbors help our faith grow. Whatever the reason I know that we are here for a reason and long season. Thank you God for using someone with all his foibles!

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