Last Friday around 5:30, I emerged into the balmy air of Kampala to my trusty minivan, accompanied by a couple of my students carrying my weapons (foam ones--for acting out the scene of Jesus' arrest, admittedly including a few pool-noodle light sabers and a Little Tikes bat), dress-up clothes (needed some garb for the drama, which I plundered from my kids' stash), and other random detritus that reflect my rather...creative style of teaching. The guys set down my stuff, waved and thanked me, and left me to the Irish friend of mine who'd waited there for me.
Spunky and exuberant, Jaz is a gift from God to me, and no more than last Friday. "I had to hear!" she waved her hands. "I waited for you, because I've been praying, and I heard you in there, and it was unbelievable to hear what was going on!"
We collapsed in the van's seats, and I thanked God for the only space in Kampala where I can regularly depend on frigid air conditioning, particularly when I am sweaty and rank from hours of teaching. (Poor Jaz.) But that's when we both sat there, exclaiming and incredulous over the events of the day.
The two classes had been packed because of the exams, with a scattering of students I'd never even seen before. Were there eighty students between the two? Who knew? But thankfully, the energy level had remained high and engaged during the entire class--with the exception of the last few minutes in the first (a prior long-running exam meant they'd sat in exams for four straight hours). But even then, the responses were invigorating--almost too good to be true, I told Jaz. I kept thinking, Is this really happening? Am I really getting to do this? Could they really be responding like this?!
After the story of Christ's Passion, I'd included a video clip from Prince of Egypt, of the last Egyptian plague. I hoped to demonstrate the significance of Christ dying on Passover, of the Lamb's blood ("Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!), of Christ calling Himself the door, of the slaves at last being freed. I'd had a couple other "road to Emmaus"-type examples, attempting to draw in Christ from the Old Testament from all the stories we'd studied this year.
I glanced around at my students in their religious clothing as I talked about God ripping the temple curtain from top to bottom: Because of Jesus, you can be close to God.
At pretty much the same point in both classes, this is the point where my voice cracked a little with emotion: "And this is why I teach you: This is what I've been wanting to tell you! Believe in Jesus, and you can be saved!"
Jaz mentioned that she got particularly excited, listening outside the door--"when you were asking for volunteers to be Jesus [in the drama]--and then you said, 'Ahmad! Great!' I couldn't believe it!"
I couldn't either. I'd talked with him before class, giving him a dual-language Bible so he could read in his own language, and a copy of the JESUS film in his own language, too--both gifts from Jaz. He told me he'd read the gospel of John, too: "The Word was before everything, and then God made the world"--pretty much a paraphrase of John 1. I grinned.
"So what do you think? Do you think He was really the Messiah?"
"Yeah! I do!" He grinned.
But did he have any Christians in his tribe, someone he could talk to when he got back?
"No, but there are some in the next tribe."
Of course, only God knows about the Christians there--and whether the soil in Ahmad's heart is the "good soil" Jesus describes. But when I was recounting this to someone the next day, I was mentally jolted: every tribe, tongue, and nation? To be a part of that promise? I was floored. Please--pray for him as he goes back to his home country.
And at the end of the second class, when the same question hung in its PowerPoint square on the whiteboard: "Who do you say that I am?", I was surprised by the enthusiastic, vocal response:
Was He a liar?
Was He crazy?
Was He "the Messiah, the Son of the Living God?"
And the vast majority of little "YES"es were circled on the handout in response to the last question: Would you like to know more about Jesus? If so, circle YES.
I'm so thankful God sent me Jaz, because even now, I find myself second-guessing. Did this really happen? Are their responses genuine?
Pray, please, for these students--that their faith would be genuine, that God would create real life in them--that I would get to hug them exuberantly in eternity. For right now, I'm just amazed that our God is doing this. Can I get an Amen?
Something tells me this may not be the rest of the story, but just the beginning.