I was recently reminded of a true story concerning a missionary and his student. The story took place in Papua New Guinea.
Bill, the missionary, was with his recently converted student, Ruben. All of a sudden the drums from Ruben's village became active. His village was on top of a hill, several miles away.
Ruben informed Bill that the drums were calling for the great missionary who had spoken of his God who heals. An infant had become drastically ill and Bill's magic was needed.
Bill was at first a bit hesitant about going, what with it being pitch black dark. Also, between them and the village, stood a jungle barrier, full of thick brush, dangling tree limbs, and snakes.
Nonetheless, Bill was persuaded to go, assured by Ruben's native ability to see in the dark. Taking Bill by the hand, off they went.
Arriving at the village, wailing women made it immediately apparent that they were too late. The two were escorted into a hut. There stood the crying mother holding her limp baby in her arms. They were told the baby had been dead for a little over thirty minutes.
Bill began thinking about how he was going to handle the funeral service, and was searching for words of comfort. But before he could say anything, he felt someone brush past him. It was Ruben.
Taking the baby, Ruben held the child above his head. He began crying out in prayer to the great Father in the sky. He cried and cried that he knew of and believed in His power to resurrect.
The baby twitched as life reentered the body. There was much rejoicing that led to the whole village being converted.
Bill, with whom I've broken bread, later summed up the experience as the teacher being taught by the student. Here he was with his theological degrees and decades of pastoring and teaching; yet the thought to do what Ruben did never crossed his mind. And even if it had, he's not sure that he would have had the faith. After all, suppose it wouldn't have worked. The prospect of that would have meant loss of face for him, and the strong possibility of the villagers rejecting anything else he had to say about God.
Of the two men in the story, I wondered which I would've been. I'm ashamed to say it probably wouldn't have been Ruben. I identify with Bill.
But, like Bill, I'm thankful for the story. It showed where I stood spiritually. It will not let me become complacent. It's increased my desire and prayers to be the man the Lord has called me to be.
Ruben didn't entertain any doubt. He wasn't sophisticated in his thinking at all. Instead, like a child trusting in what he'd been told, he simply acted on his belief.
So the biggest realization that I'm thankful for, is the reminder that spiritual growth to maturity is watered by a simple childlike attitude of faith.
"Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as a child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 18: 3, 4
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