We stood around our students, we teacher-chaperones, our arms outstretched over them. Together we prayed, aloud and all at once, as believers in Korean churches often do. And amid sniffles from the students and tears pricking my own eyes, I felt the presence of Jesus there, covering us, surrounding us.
Have you known those times?
A few weeks ago I had the privilege—though I admit at first I just felt overwhelmed—of being one of the chaperones for our high school’s “Serve Week,” where our students spent a week in one of two inner cities in our state learning about the various people groups there and helping out to serve various organizations in different ways. It was an eye-opening time, and I learned more about the urban center nearby us than I have living in this area most of my life.
We did a lot that week, and it was intense and often exhausting. But what stands out most in my memory are the times through the week when I knew the Lord’s presence so clearly, often catching me by surprise.
Like when we approached an older homeless man in the park to see if he’d like to share Central American pastries with us for breakfast, and he answered my initial questions in Spanish. Two girls in my group, one from Guatemala and one from Columbia, stepped up to speak with and translate for the man, and then prayed for him in his own language after we’d heard his story. Later one of the girls told me, her face alight, how the Lord had used the experience to confirm in her heart her dream and His call for her to be a translator.
And our final evening, when we had a time at the beach of sharing “affirmations” of each other using I Corinthians 13, and seeing our students reach out and build each other up, hearing them share how the trip had brought them together and helped them cross friendship and cultural boundaries even within our own school.
Or before bed that last night in the girls’ crowded room of bunk beds at the church where we stayed, when one girl wasn’t feeling well, and we decided to pray for her, and ended up having a beautiful session of prayer in—spontaneously—four different languages . . . and after that, she felt better.
And that final morning, as we leaders prayed over our students and knew the Holy Spirit with us there.
I was humbled, to see how the Lord used and worked among us, on a trip I hadn’t even initially wanted to join –I wanted to stay home, sub for the junior high classes, write and catch up on grading. Because they needed me, I went…but how glad I am now that I didn’t miss out on those moments.
At our chapel a week or so later, our students were given time to be quiet and connect with the Lord in their own way and time through various “prayer stations,” through coloring or praying over a world map or writing down confessions and putting them through a shredder or lighting candles…or just sitting quiet before Him as one student’s sister softly played worship songs on her guitar.
Again I sensed the Lord’s presence, and I was thankful for a school that, wherever students may be spiritually—and they don’t have to believe in Jesus to come here—gives opportunity for them, and us, not just to hear about God, but to reach out and touch Him, to try Him out. To “taste and see,” as our dean put it to the kids, whether He might indeed be there.
And He is.
Michael Card remains my favorite Christian composer and lyricist, and I’ve had one of his songs, from the “Misunderstood Messiah” album inspired by the Gospel of John, going through my mind as I ponder these things. Take a listen here:
I’m grateful for a God who does not just demand we believe, but invites us to “Come and see.”
Has He invited you? How have you known His Presence lately? I hope you’ll comment and share!