God can fix all kinds of problems, but could He—would He—“fix” a prize drawing? I didn’t know, but if I didn’t ask, I would never know!
It wasn’t for me. It was for Dan. Dan was a level-two student in an English class I taught in Asia. He was university age, studying English with the hopes of securing a good job after graduation.
On Dan’s first quiz he scored low—only a 2 out of 5. That was embarrassing for him, but when he got a 2 again the next time, he was not happy. As class ended, I tried to encourage him, but instead of listening, he stormed out angrily.
The next day he was still upset and began talking loudly with his classmates in his first language. Then he began drawing his classmates into the same behavior, which, for several days in a row, became progressively worse.
I couldn’t let things continue that way, but because I didn’t speak the students’ language and they spoke so little English, the problem was not easily solved. There was nothing to do but pray.
One of the blessings of living abroad is that you frequently encounter the most amazing circumstances and have nothing to do but pray. As a result, you more often see answers to prayer.
By the time I met Dan, I had seen what prayer could do. I had asked God for help when a community development worker I shared a home with had decided to raise chickens—in the kitchen. She was determined, and I didn’t speak the language. I had nothing to do but pray. I did, and the worker changed her mind—no chickens at all.
I had asked for help when I drove the organization’s van to a city two hours away. From almost the start of the trip, the steering wheel shook so violently that I could barely hold on. It was necessary that I reach my destination, so I drove until I thought my arms would drop out of their sockets. Finally, I had nothing to do but pray. I did, and the steering wheel immediately stopped shaking. I drove the rest of the trip in peace.
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I had asked for help again when I discovered that the downstairs portion of my house had been rented out to a fortune-teller. How can Christ and Satan share the same building? I wondered. I had nothing to do but pray, so I did, and in short order, the fortune-teller moved out.
Now, once again, I had nothing to do but pray, and so pray I did. I prayed for order to be restored, I prayed for each member of the class, and I prayed especially for Dan.
The next day was mission day. Instead of having classes, students attended a worship service delivered in English and translated into the local language. At the end of the service, there was a drawing. I knew it was coming, and I knew the highest prize was a Bible printed in both English and the local language.
As I looked around the room at the 50-plus students, I thought, I’d sure like for Dan to receive the Bible. So, fair or not, I prayed for that very thing. A moment later, the pastor drew a slip of paper and read the name. “Dan.” Why was I amazed?
I was amazed again when Dan showed up at my translation club and surprised even more when one of my Bible class students announced she had invited Dan to my Sabbath afternoon Bible study! He came too, and looked intensely interested.
For the class itself, I had prayed for order to be restored, but God gives abundantly more than all we ask or think. The attitude of the class began to change. I soon found that when I walked into class in the mornings, I was greeted with an enthusiastic chorus of hellos from around the room. This most difficult group became the warmest and closest class I had!
The class president took it upon himself to bring a tin can with him each day—so that he could collect money from anyone who spoke anything other than English in class! They continued to talk more than any other group, but now it was all in English—which of course was the whole point!
And Dan’s grades improved—I prayed especially for that. I was amazed again the day I could give him not a 2 or 3 but a 5!
What will God do when we have nothing to do but pray? Ask and see! “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7, NKJV).