Working Smart, Working Hard

The sad time has arrived for our summer interns to head back to the States. They have done such a wonderful job; God has used them in unbelievable ways! I pray that the Lord will give them glimpses of the true impact they’ve made here in China. I asked them last week (nervously) if the trip was easier or harder than they thought it would be. And (much to my relief) they all responded that it was way harder than they had imagined! These guys really are troopers – they have really allowed themselves to be spent for the work here. And never a complaint, no matter what tortures I subjected them to!

So what did they spend six weeks doing that was so hard? Having parties, basically. Well, that’s an understatement. They killed themselves meeting people – I mean dozens and dozens of people. They spent every waking moment with those people – eating out, throwing parties, going to classes, participating in English corners, playing basketball, singing karaoke, and cooking dinner. And they let their love for Jesus and his Gospel be evident in their actions and in their words. That’s it. And they almost died!

You’ve heard the admonition to ‘work smart, not hard,’ I suppose. Honestly, I think their work has been smart AND hard. Smart, because they were open about their faith and witnessed boldly. Smart, because they prioritized their time and stuck with the people who were interested. Smart, because they connected people with the church and got them involved with existing Bible studies. Smart, because though they were unable to pass out tracts or do any other kind of ‘mass evangelism,’ they still made deep impacts in the lives of many people.

But hard, too. Hard, because to make those impacts required hundreds of hours with each person. Hard, because they had to meet many, many people to find a few that were really interested in learning about the Bible. Hard, because they became emotionally involved with the people they taught, so that leaving them is painful. They are ready for a vacation, to say the least.

That’s discipleship – smart and hard. It’s effective and excruciating. One of the Chinese guys that I was training in our city has moved away to another city (against my wishes). It’s a kind of pain that I’ve never experienced before. Certainly not the same as having a child leave you – but it’s of the same sort, I think, just different in degree. Yes, it would have been far easier to just prepare messages, preach those messages, plan and program, and hope that students’ lives are changed. But thanks to the wisdom of other men in my life, I knew to get in close and personal. And now I’m hurt. That’s the hard part. But what a joy to be in their lives for the time we are allowed! What a joy to see God change lives! The closer you are, the grander the joy and the harsher the hurt.

All in all, I couldn’t be prouder to have worked with these interns this summer! God has blessed our ministry through them, and they’re welcome back at any time. I hope you’ll pray with me about next year’s team – this will be a hard act to follow!

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One Comment on “Working Smart, Working Hard”

  1. Katie Moreland July 29, 2009 at 9:18 am #

    God is amazing in how He chooses to use people. I am so glad they had the oppurtunity to come and experience that. I was jealous at the beginning of the summer because I wanted to come too. God blessed me so much by allowing me to stay here and read what you all have been doing and challenging me to pray regularly for you all. Thanks for the blogs. They have been such a blessing and an encouragement. Praise the LORD for the impact they had. That is so amazing, and so is our GOD for that matter. Much love and prayers…

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