Thursday, April 17, 2008

Readers

The other night as I came home I noticed a baby albino lizard lurking in the corner. I thought he'd be just fine as I opened my front door, but he surprised me and literally jumped horizontally right toward my feet. I screamed (hope the neighbors didn't hear it) and he scurried right into my apartment like he'd been waiting for the moment all night. I won't go into detail about what the next few minutes entailed, but I will tell you that that about 2 hours later I was still sitting on my couch with my feet up, trying to watch Law & Order but actually just surveilling the entrance to the kitchen where I knew he was hiding. Did I mention the line of bleach that I made on the floor, dividing his side of the apartment from my side? Someone told me they hate bleach.

This is something crazy people do.

So, I know a lot of you have been waiting for a long time for me to give you a reader intro/update. The truth is, I have sat down several times to write one and I just can't ever seem to quite articulate what it is that really goes on in our sessions together. They are such special people, such wonderful friends, that I feel like the measly words on this blog won't even come near to doing them any justice. So I usually just give up.

With that being said, prepare yourself that what you are about to read may very well be boring. It very well may be unimpressive. And I can assure you that the reason is that the written word does not capture or convey the work the Spirit does in my time with these readers. Yes, some days are boring days. Some days they are too preoccupied with the test tomorrow, or the Dengue fever they just got over, or with their most recent family crisis. Some days I'm the culprit, the one who wasn't well-prepared, the one who didn't ask in-depth questions, the one who was also preoccupied with something else going on in my crazy life.

But, usually, those things don't matter. Usually, within the 45 minutes allotted for our reading sessions, we open the book and the lesson was "just what I needed to hear today," or "I had never seen that before!" or "God can do anything!" Even with their often limited vocabulary, I see the stories and ideas going into their minds and hearts and getting worked over, planting seeds that I pray will one day come to fruition.

So, with that preface, please allow me to introduce you to two of my very special readers, with names that have been changed, of course!: Leandro and Paulo.

Leandro has been studying with me since I arrived in September, and during these 7 months we have become great friends! Our sessions are filled with laughter and teasing, but then our conversations get so intense that I often lose track of time and accidentally keep him into my next session! Like many Brazilians, Leandro grew up in a Catholic home. As we read through the book of Acts together and now the Good News study, he is seeing and understanding the Gospel message in a way that has never been clear to him before. Just last week he said "Well, now that you explain it like that, I completely understand!" He has also mentioned recently that he is changing in the way he lives his life, and he is willing to give credit to the fact that maybe it's because he has been spending more time learning about, thinking about, and searching for God. Please be praying for Leandro, that he will open his heart just a little bit more to what he already knows the Spirit is doing. Please also pray for me, that God will give me boldness and the right words to help Leandro arrive at the answers he is looking for!

Paulo was my reader in 2006, and during those four weeks we became good friends. We always had great discussions about the Bible, and he was never shy to be honest with me about where he stood with his faith. When he found out I was back in Natal, he was so excited to see me that he came to church the next day, something he had never done in the 3 years he had studied with LST! Paulo had a bad experience with a church several years ago (a story way too common in Brazil) and has since been far from the Lord, with difficulty in knowing how to get back. Paulo believes in God, believes in Jesus, but has made a choice to not follow them. He makes no secret of the fact that he fears that one day he will go to hell, but also that he doesn't want to follow Jesus just because he's scared of what will happen if he doesn't. He is very sincere, and a very DEEP thinker. Recently he has been blowing me away with his insights into the lessons, one of which was so profound for me that I went home speechless that night! A few weeks ago I gave him an Easy-to-Read English New Testament, and when he came back the next week I asked if he had read any of it. He said "Yeah, a little." I asked what, exactly, and he said "Well, I read Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Luke and John, and a little bit of Revelation." I'd say that's "a little"! I am so excited to watch what God is doing in Paulo's life, especially since when I first met him he was so deep in despair that I wondered if he would ever be able to find his way out. Please pray for Paulo, as well, that he would be able to see clearly what it means to make a choice to follow God, and that he would begin to consider to make that choice again.

So...I promised it might be boring, but I didn't promise it wouldn't be long. :) I hope you enjoyed reading about my friends, and got to see just a little deeper into what it is exactly that I do here. Leandro and Paulo are just two of thirty, and if you ask for it I could tell you about a lot more! Please being praying for us, as we weekly delve into scripture and try to figure out what in the world it is saying to us. I know you've been there...

6 comments:

Deanna said...

Woah Cris! That is SO not boring. I love hearing about your readers and the amazing things that happen with you. I especially loved hearing about Paulo knowing that I will be dealing with people immensly influenced by the Catholic church. Thanks so much for sharing. I will be praying for you and your readers. I know you probably feel under-qualified but the Holy Spirit qualifies you. Remember that!

lacy hefley said...

Thank you so much for telling us about your readers! Your words have blessed and brightened my day. I look forward to hearing more about them! :)

Mark and Kelly said...

Telling us about your readers is the most un-boring topic you could pick!

Anonymous said...

Amen! Thanks for sharing these stories!

Cyndi Needels said...

That was great! Thanks for sharing about your readers! I want more!

Anonymous said...

Cris, have you ever thought how these lizards become albino. It's the bleach!!! Keep up the good work. Hug and a kiss, Aunt Nell