One of our summer missionary associates shares her experience of teaching via online this summer. Because she has been working in a sensitive area the following testimonial does not include any identifying information.
Praise the Lord that I have had the privilege to serve as a summer missionary associate for two years in a row. Both mission trips were excellent opportunities for growing in the likeness of being God’s servant and reflecting on His sovereignty. As I was teaching a college-level English course this summer, it was edifying to see God’s grace for all image-bearers and His love for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). God always makes the best of all seasons to plant the seeds and watch over the growth. The freedom of sharing the gospel comes from God’s sovereign rule over the world. Therefore, His truthful and powerful Word gives us confidence when facing persecution. I am so grateful for my team that has borne many fruits through their faith and beautiful testimonies.
My missionary associate service last summer was quite different than this year’s. Last year I was physically on the mission field. My tasks included living in a campus dorm room with five female students and teaching an English course at a university, while assisting the mission’s work at the local church and with community outreach activities. There were many opportunities to meet people and share our faith, so the mission itself required significant time and energy from every one of us. We met for team meetings and prayer time. We also worked closely with the team leader and were able to observe his example.
As I juggled the different tasks, it was a valuable lesson to stay joyful as God matured me in faith and service. I learned to celebrate each step of the way because it was a great temptation for me to lose joy in busy work, especially when I faced personal rejections from my roommates whenever I shared the gospel. Even more than that, once I saw that serving the King of kings was itself already a joy-inducing job, I learned that faithfulness to my task as a teacher in the classroom would be a testimony to Him.
This year, with the school under lockdown, my experience was quite different. I taught a language class online from the other side of the world. My challenge was preventing class content related to our Christian faith from falling into the wrong hands while making it a priority to share the gospel through my class. I had to pre-record two-hour long lectures per day, conduct one-on-one interviews, and daily interact with test-based assessments, and use a secure internet platform to avoid the risk of being scrutinized. I prayed continually for my students as they endured the hardship of remote learning and isolation under lockdown. I prayed that God would bring fruit through this unconventional class taught during my night and their day.
My job focused on teaching language from a biblical worldview which I hoped would reveal something of God’s grace to my students. Language is primarily a gift from God to all image-bearers. We all exhibit the linguistic effects of sin daily, as Scripture says, that what comes out of our mouth proceeds from our hearts (Matthew 15:18). As our sins and our problems are exposed, a solution is demanded. Only a change of heart can solve our deadly sin. God gives grace when we confess our sins (Romans 10:9). God loved us when we were still sinners. We were all so wretched in our sins, yet God has chosen, made, and loved us because He is our Father.
Some of my students this summer included Hope and Grace, a couple of young women I had roomed with last year, and Lena, who had professed faith and joined our local Reformed church. Soon I would hear comments from students like “It is new to me as I have never heard that language is a gift from God.” Lena would make a bold confession of her Christian faith in class. Hope would go from “I think human beings are just animals” to “I have lied many times. Where is my hope? I truly want to learn it well.” In our one-on-one interview right before the class was cancelled, Grace confided, “I agree that what comes out of our mouth proceeds from our heart. I am willing to confess my sins with my mouth and believe in my heart that Jesus has died for my sin!” Even after the class got cancelled, another student sent me the final assignment, writing “Humans survive because God loves us. We are God’s children, and Jesus sacrificed himself to cleanse us from our sins. …and language is God’s gift to us.”
It is challenging to know that your students could report on you when you share the gospel, but I learned that even the hostility of this world testifies to the truth of Christ’s coming and the faithfulness of His servants. As my students told me that other teachers had told them stories about Christ, I also recognized the staying power of God’s Word. When this world must use counterfeit-hope, counterfeit-peace, and counterfeit-love because it fears losing control over the hearts of people, the true hope, love, and faith in God’s Word stands up to the trials of persecution and witnesses to the fact that this is our Father’s world and that Jesus is on the throne.
Amazingly I had the privilege of hearing my students use language for a greater purpose—the confession of sin and the declaration that Jesus offers grace and mercy through His sacrifice. I wish I had had more time with my students, yet I know our Father will hold them fast. They are in so many ways like me when I was in college. My desire is that God would choose them just as He chose me out of the many souls in that nation, that they might call upon the Lord as their Father and Christ as their Savior.
It will be my joy to stay committed to this mission in prayers and action. Please pray for protection over the mission and God’s servants in this land that is thirsty for truth. Pray for the training and calling of more missionaries who will be committed to sharing the gospel in and out of season. Please pray for the perseverance of faithful Christian teachers across the country that they may be profitable channels for God’s grace. Pray for students reached and unreached that God’s love may bring them to repentance and call them for service in His kingdom.