His Work, Not Mine

I'm sure I learned a great many things during that very challenging Gospel work among my Hakka friends and neighbors in San Yi, but there are two things in particular that I've not forgotten and that I still draw on today in my pastoring here in the States:

1. It's the Word of God, not my word, that makes a difference in the end.
2. It's the work of God, not my work, that sees a lasting consequence. 

When I ask myself just how I learned these two important truths, a hundred things come to mind, but none of them more impressive than a dear little seventeen-year-old high school girl, with the beautiful name: Yang Ya-ru. 

My first encounter with Yang Ya-ru was in the ICU of a hospital in downtown Tai-Chung, I believe, and it wasn't exactly a good encounter. 

But let me back up a bit...

It was our second year in the little Hakka town and we were struggling in this work. We'd hardly had any impact on the community. 

One day, two high school girls from our little youth group showed up to stand in the doorway of my office: "Teacher, you must go! Right now to Taichung!" they cried out in great distress. "Our best friend, Ya-ru might die at any time and if what you have taught us is true, there's no time to waste! Please! Go and make her a Christian!" 

Yang Ya-ru had been in a terrible head-on collision with her motorbike and she hadn't been wearing a helmet. Now she was in critical condition, with severe head injuries that had required extensive surgery. The prognosis was not good. She was conscious now, but not at all out of the woods.

I tried to instruct the kids about this: "Of course, I will go, but I can't make people Christians. I want you to know that. You two just pray and I'll share what I can."

I was filled with trepidation as I made the short trip south to Taichung. For one thing, Ya-ru's whole family was Buddhist, I'd heard. There was no reason why she would be receptive toward the "yang jyau" (foreign religion). For another thing, I was a stranger. Yang Ya-ru didn't know who I was. There was no guarantee that she would want me there at all. In fact, wouldn't it be just an enormous intrusion? 

No less daunting was the fact that the entire visit would be done in Mandarin. I mean: ICU visits in English are no piece of cake, but with Buddhists in Mandarin? 

To top it all off, right before I set out, Ya-ru's friends chimed in with: "Oh, by the way, she's pretty angry, too. She doesn't know why this had to happen to her!" So, I had that to contend with as well. 

On my way up the stairs to Intensive Care, I kept praying: "Lord. I can't do this! Not me!" And I had already started telling myself: "Just apologize, say a few words, and leave."  

When I got to the room, there was the saddest little thing on earth: her head all bandaged up, lying flat on her back and staring at the ceiling. As I walked in, she didn't even turn toward me, just caught me with her peripheral vision. 

I took a deep breath and started in: "Miss Yang Ya-ru. You don't know me, but your friends asked me to come. (I'm sure I gave their names) I'm the pastor of the church they attend. But I came to tell you that we are all praying for you. I'm praying that God will heal you and keep you safe. But I also want to tell you, Ya-ru, that Jesus loves you. He is the one who will keep you safe, no matter what happens, if you will trust in Him to do so." I went on to explain what Jesus did for us on the Cross and how we can find salvation in Him, and life eternal. 

I didn't even get as far as trying to pray with her. I had already sensed that she was uncomfortable with the visit. After I finished, she stared at the ceiling for a few more minutes, and then rolled over and turned her face to the wall. 

This visit was over. I left convinced that it was a complete failure. 

All the way home I tried to comfort myself: "many are called, few are chosen"; "some seed fell on such-and-such ground"; you know: the usual stuff. I drove back to San Yi, went back to work and, eventually, forgot about Ya-ru. 

The work went well that year. At Christmas, we had a remarkable outreach: a community-wide Christmas celebration to which almost everyone in San Yi was invited. There was a pot-luck dinner, caroling, and a Christmas drama, with a clear presentation of the real meaning of Christmas. All this for a town that knew almost nothing about the real meaning of Christmas.

That evening—oh!—did they come! Our little second-story church was wall-to-wall people. Our pitiful thirty chairs didn't begin to suffice—nor could the pot-luck dishes provide—but it didn't matter; everyone got a taste; no one seemed to mind. All-in-all, it was a wonderful evening. 

But very early in the evening, something beautiful happened. One of the kids from the youth group came up: "Mr. Schorr, go! Quickly! Go look out the window!" "What?" I asked. "Just go! See for yourself." I walked over to the window and looked down onto the little plaza that was there, right next to our building. 

There, down below was a little waif of a girl, just crossing the street, carrying a little dish in both hands. She was wearing the cutest little blue baseball cap with the bill turned sideways. And that hat was covering a sad little head that had been completely shaved bald!  

It was Yang Ya-ru, on her way into church...

...for the very first time in her life! 

The years have flown by and I've lost track of Ya-ru, and almost all the other kids in that group. Oh! I do hope she still walks with the Lord! But I've always known this, especially about her: she was always His work; not mine! He did it all, from beginning to end. And "He who began a good work...will complete it." Phil 1:6

See you Sunday!                     RAS 

 

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