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Saying Gracerob

By Rob

 

 

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17  

 

As we sat down in a restaurant near the university campus, I gently asked my three student friends, "Do you mind if I say grace before we eat?" Bewildered faces looked back at me as though I was speaking a foreign language. Well, actually I was! 

 

This was early in my first year as a missionary teacher in East Asia. Although my friends had more than adequate English skills to understand my words, the concept of praying before a meal was foreign to them. Seeing the confusion on their faces, I explained that I wanted to speak to the Most High God before we ate our food. They consented quickly, although the puzzled looks remained.

 

I prayed slowly and with words full of thankfulness, joy and love. I gave thanks for the food, but I also prayed for Nick, Mike and Phil by name (many students take English names as they study the language). I asked the Lord to give them wisdom to find truth, and I thanked God for their friendship. I ended with "in the name of Jesus."

 

After my prayer, everyone picked up their chopsticks and began eating - except for Nick. He had a question. "Mr. Rob, what is the most important thing in life?" As we ate and laughed as friends, I began to explain the truths of the one true God - in response to Nick's sincere question.

 

I don't think I missed saying grace once while serving in East Asia. I prayed with hundreds of students and other nationals over the years. Never was anyone offended. Almost uniformly, when I sat down for a meal the second time, I was asked with anticipation if I was going to pray.

 

Saying grace with students and faculty often led to spiritual questions. These short prayers were almost always the first time these dear people saw first-hand that there is a living God who we can speak to and who listens.

 

Of the three, Nick and Mike eventually gave their lives to the Lord. Phil is still seeking. God is so faithful.

 

The term "English Corner" refers to regular, free gatherings of nationals that want to improve their language abilities. These loosely structured meetings occur weekly all over the world, especially in university settings. When a native English speaker is present the crowd buzzes with excitement.

 

I love English Corners. One night there was a dozen students interacting with me. My friend Nick eventually joined us. Within a few minutes, he said, "Mr. Rob, when I was in your class last semester, you spoke of the Most High God. I want to know more." I smiled and thanked God silently. I was aware of how God was moving in Nick's life. I was also aware that Nick's honest statement was used by God as a witness to the other students.

 

Nick and I began to take long walks to discuss Jesus and his gift of eternal life. On about our third walk, we found a place to sit down as I sensed the seriousness of our discussion. Eventually I said, "Nick, I think you are ready to give your life to Jesus and follow him." He agreed without hesitation, and he prayed right there.

 

Nick later told me that when he was in middle school, he had dreamed that he was a pastor. I said "Nick, at that point you wouldn't have known what a pastor was!"

He responded, "Yes, but now I do."

 

Our team of missionary teachers invested a lot of time in Nick over the year. We watched him grow, and we increasingly gave him leadership responsibilities. I know of at least four of his friends who are now Christians! It is going to be wonderful to see how our Lord continues to use this brother and those who come to Christ through him.

 

God had been pursuing Nick all his life. Eventually the Lord got Nick's attention as he heard someone say grace before a meal. Amazing grace!

 

I am back in America now, and I am committed to say grace with everyone the Lord sends to share a meal with me in the mission field called America. As I did with my friends in Asia, I give thanks for the food and pray for each friend by name. My family didn't always do this before we moved to East Asia. We were afraid that our "non-PC" prayer might offend some. We now realize that this is an unfounded concern. Our prayers have led to family and friends opening up to us in wonderful new ways. Mealtimes are often like having communion. We break bread and remember our Lord and what He has done.

 

Praying before a meal can be a warm, authentic expression of hospitality. In this New Year, consider gracious ways to begin meals with friends, family, international students and even business associates. There is no telling how God might use saying grace to bring grace to a person's pain, hopelessness and heart longings.

 

May God bless your daily ministry in 2016 as you say grace and live grace in our broken world.

 

I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. Psalm 34:1

 

 

 

 

About the Author 

 

Rob manages a key region of the world for East-West Ministries International based in Plano, Texas. He continues to maintain Internet anonymity due to the ongoing work in certain areas. If you desire to be a missionary teacher, please contact East-West Ministries employment (a college degree, age 24 - 64 and a 10-month commitment is all that is required).

 

 

A Word From James

 

I am so thankful for Rob's gentle but effective witness and leadership. He understands friendship ministry and strategic focus. May God use his testimony to challenge and encourage us all to move forward in 2016 with more intentionality. The needs of the world and the glory of God compel us.


Is there some way FollowOne can help you, your children and your church use the blessings of God to serve lost and hurting people?

 

 

 

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