Curiosity after class
By Tianna Haas | west-africa
Representative stock photo by Kojo Kwarteng from Unsplash.
Detouring from small talk into discussions on faith requires bravery. Many of our workers long for the people they serve to express curiosity about Christ and pursue further conversation.
SIM worker Wade* found himself in this rare position after he offered an opportunity to hear and discuss the Kingdom of God to his elementary level English class, and a Muslim student said, “This is a really interesting topic, but the time is not good. Could we discuss this in the morning?”
Wade serves in West Africa at a student centre that provides English classes to university students. He and his wife Natalie* have been in the region for 11 years, where they were sent from the UK. What Wade has learned in this time is that “the vast majority [of both private and public university students] will never come across an evangelical, let alone hear the gospel.”
The centre offers study space, community events, Bible studies, and presentations of the gospel, like the one this student attended. Wade had given the talk, entitled “What Is the Kingdom of God?” several times before.
He said, “I was a bit taken aback by her comment, as I always have an expectation that not many will want to come to a presentation about the gospel. But here she was wanting to rearrange the meeting for a time that would suit her.”
Fourteen students came in total to the evening and morning presentations, spanning many religious backgrounds including Islam, Catholicism, and evangelical Christianity. Wade shared that, of the one hundred students who have heard the talk, most had never heard the good news of Jesus until that point.
Wade said, “We often have the longest discussions about how God can forgive sins. What intrigues them most is the forgiveness of sins and how it is ‘free’: we do not contribute anything to our entry to paradise.”
This particular student had plenty of similar questions, especially wondering about good works as a means to access heaven. Past outreach has led to one female student becoming a believer, despite significant challenges and questions.
Although there has been little outward fruit at the student centre, Wade knows there is potential for transformation through the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul too experienced a crowd who wanted to know more of the gospel in Athens, as they beckoned him to further describe “this new teaching” (Acts 17). His discussions led to some joining and becoming believers, as we pray will happen with these young people.
These types of conversations aren’t far below the surface in this community, where Wade said, “Many fear death, and then judgment by God. So, it is always relevant to speak about these things. Generally, people are very happy to talk about God and paradise, and respect anyone who is here to help people.”
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• the students who came to the evening presentation on the kingdom of God, that the Lord would transform their hearts.
• many students to come to upcoming presentations at the student centre and for discussions to focus on forgiveness and the gospel.
• soft hearts, opportunities, and perseverance.