Encouraged by Response

In the days when the mission operated many primary schools, the teachers were able to regularly hold Bible study classes during school hours. In many instances, the local evangelist came to speak and teach but, with the number of schools, most of the brunt of the work fell to the teachers. It was great to work with them – to encourage them and provide them with teaching materials.
About 40 miles from the mission station, out behind the forests and across the seasonal swamps, I had begun construction of a “middle school” which was geared to grades five through eight. There were about four teachers at the school at that time, fine men who loved the Lord and who provided a real Christian witness to the students as well as teaching them the needed educational subjects.
Because the area in which the school was located was practically inaccessible during the rains, the teachers got together and chose one of them each month to come in to the mission station for their wages. I paid these out over the signature of the collecting teacher.
Because there were the four teachers, and because the head-teacher was the one in authority, it was four months before I saw him. He was last on the list for making the trip out to collect the wages. Maybe he thought that the swamps would dry up before the fourth month and I would be able to travel out to the school, bringing the salaries and thus saving him the 40-mile bicycle trip!
In any case, he had to come. As I met him and invited him into the house, I knew something was up. Even before I could pay him the wages – before we could discuss anything about the school – he had to tell me about how the Bible classes were going. He was very encouraged with this facet of his work. He enjoyed teaching the Bible (in fact he was also the preacher in the little church we opened there).
Response to the Bible teaching had been slow. Up until the rains started, there had been no visible decisions for Christ. But something had happened. During those four months of the rainy season, attitudes had changed and responses voiced. The head-teacher, with face beaming and a real joyful spirit, announced, “And many of the boys have come over onto the Lord’s side!”
This, to him – and to me – made all the school work worthwhile. And he was overjoyed! So was I. It gave meaning to that “out of the way” school; it gave meaning to the efforts and witness of the teachers in that isolated area; it made it all worthwhile.
About two years later Carol and I were asked to move out to that area, to build a mission station and start ministry in the surrounding villages. We spent a very fruitful time there and were privileged to work with these same teachers for many years. We wouldn’t trade our time out in Salawe for anything!