(February 07, 2021) Erica Grace, ex-missionary to South America, recalls a memorable Holy Spirit-blessed occasion and encourages us to sensitive to others…
Prema (not real name) first caught my attention when, through an interpreter, I was speaking to students in India about creation and marriage, and how God had made everything perfect.
When I began teaching about Eve and why God made her and how special her creation was, I noticed a spotlight over Prema’s face; she was beaming, and the rest of the class was a blur.
In a culture where girls are second class citizens, she was hearing good news and was furiously taking notes as fast as I was speaking.
When my class finished, we began pairing off with someone and praying for each other, and I went looking for Prema. On finding her, we just stood facing each other and just smiled; then I took her hands and began to pray for her.
Suddenly, she pulled me to herself and began to pray and weep – so here we were, neither one knowing what the other was saying, but feeling remarkably close as the Holy Spirit was ministering to both of us. We were both a blubbering mess, crying and praying on each other’s shoulders!
In the next session the men went upstairs, and the girls stayed down. Everyone was sitting on mats on a cold cement floor while other team members shared. When the session was over, I got up to sit on a chair, and didn’t realise Prema had been sitting right behind me. Suddenly, she knelt by my feet and began to rub my legs. How did she know that my legs were numb and hurting?
I could see she was hanging around me and when it was time to leave, she took a step forward and said to me: ‘Me English no, me English no!’
Knowing she didn’t understand English, I just nodded but I could tell she wanted to tell me something. I asked the sister in charge of the women to come and interpret for us.
Then Prema told her story: She was the only believer in her village and her family had told her she was an embarrassment to them and not to ever come back; that if she did, they would be the first to stone her!
As she told me this she was weeping more and more. I felt her pain of being rejected but also the pain of not seeing her family saved. In midst of so much pain I really could not find words in me to speak. So, I prayed, ‘Holy Spirit what do you want me to say?’
Following the Spirit’s leading I took my Bible and pointed at it; she went over to get hers. Then I opened mine to Matthew 5. She quickly opened to the same portion in hers. I pointed at verse 10. She moved my finger so she could see better and began to read: ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for yours is the kingdom of heaven…’
Another torrent of tears of flowed.
Then she read verse 11, ‘Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.’ More crying.
Prema read on… ‘Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you’ (Verse 12).
She nodded and then she sighed and wiped her eyes with her shawl. Calmness filled her previously anguished face. She looked straight into my eyes and nodded.
Then, in a blink of an eye, I saw Prema dressed in royal robes with a lovely crown on her head! I immediately thought of that verse found in 2 Timothy 2:12 – ‘If we suffer, we shall reign with him…’
Yes, I felt I was in the presence of one that would receive much greater reward than I could ever hope for. I took my Bible and hugged it; Prema did the same. Then we both had a laugh.
It was a joyful laughter that comes when you know Jesus is with you and that even when horrible things happen on this earth, they cannot rob you of an eternity full of wonders.
As we follow Jesus, we can all have meaningful encounters!
Although my experience above was in India, I encourage readers to be sensitive to those we meet wherever we are. The great commission of Matthew 28:18-20 is a calling on all Christians and the Holy Spirit can assist and use us to lead lost souls to Jesus, the Saviour of the world (John 3:16).
And not only that, but he can use us to encourage someone, enrich their life and bless them meaningfully to know security in Christ Jesus.
Erica Grace, author of Foundations for the Family, a biblical teaching series suitable for whole congregations, and her husband Chris were missionaries for over 20 years in Paraguay, Bolivia and Chile. Link: Mobile 0408 483 358