This is Brian writing. I am aware that I rarely post, but am trying to discipline myself to get better in this respect!
A year and a half ago I felt strongly that God was calling me to interact with some youth who live across the street from our campus. This is a squatter area of small shanty-houses constructed of loose boards and tin. The young people here have typically limited English because of limited education.
I began conversations with them, which started with me learning Tagalog slang that they thought was hilarious! Slowly I began to learn some of their names. Last year some other students invited them on campus to play on our basketball court. These guys love basketball! Most of them are not in school and are unemployed, so basketball is a welcome diversion. We played 3-4 days a week last school year!
This school year some students left and others have schedules that limit their ability to sponsor these guys to be on campus to play. I was busy with work and school and for the first few weeks I did not see or talk to them often. But God continued to lay on my heart the critical importance of being in the community where I live and among non-believers. To be honest I gave excuses to God. "I'm so busy studying and my job with NYI is my ministry," I told him, but when I was honest these were smoke screens for my own laziness. So I put in my schedule to finish work early and play ball with the guys every Tuesday.
While I feel like I have a good relationship with these guys, it is a somewhat superficial one. I have quickly found that to discuss issues of the heart, issues that deal with emotions typically don't make their way into less-than-conversational-english conversations! I've struggled with this but Julie continues to remind me that as long as I am there and care for these guys God will do the rest. One thing I have felt God leading me to do is be intentional to pray for them both in my quiet time and also when I am playing with them or watching them play.
Last Tuesday I had a meeting that ran late. I hadn't gone out and reminded them that I would be at the gate at 4:30 to play, so I thought I wouldn't play ball that day. However, I told Julie I should go check just in case. As I walked towards the gate I saw one of the guys and he looked at me, smiled, and made a dribbling motion with his hand. They had been waiting! Five minutes later 25 guys were filling the court playing or watching. Since I wasn't in playing clothes I decided to just talk with the guys.
As I sat next to one boy, U-choy, a unique thing happened. He began really talking to me! He was asking questions, struggling to find the English words with his limited vocabulary. This is rare because often we are content to let my limited Tagalog ability and his limited English be what they are and just hang out, but not really talk. But here we were having a meaningful conversation. It was a huge encouragement to me, a sign that our relationship was growing, even if it was a slow growth.
I have to continue to pray and trust that God can and will do the work that I can't do. I want to make myself available completely no matter the results that I see or don't see. I want to be bold when God leads me to be, but also to be consistent when I don't see anything happening. This is hard for me to do because I feel my value as a missionary rests in results. I have to be reminded on the one hand, that one plants, and one waters, but only God makes things grow. And I must be reminded, on the other hand that I must be ready to be obedient whenever God provides the opportunity to be more direct about Jesus.
Please pray for U-choy, Jerky, Ivan, Rene, Jun, JR, Din Din, Doods, Andrew, Edward, and all the other boys who play basketball on the APNTS campus on Tuesdays from 4:30-6.