Some months were filled with women so hungry to hear the word they were waiting in the main meeting room for my arrival. The Bible study was only supposed to be an hour and some days we were there well over an hour. Other months the women had to be told by the staff to go to Bible study. In those times, I found myself praying more for God to open their hearts and for a seed to be planted.
One particular month will be etched into my memory forever. When I got to the facility, I was a bit surprised to meet new staff. I wasn't told where the old staff had gone, if they were coming back or the circumstances that caused them not to be there. I was told however that the new staff members were not going to require the women to go to Bible study. I was also told I would not be able to hold Bible study in the main meeting area - that would be for the women to utilize during their free time.
I was given a room, a small room, and told they would make an announcement to let the women know I was there and I could wait to see if anyone came in. That was a lot to take in the first five minutes of being there. I complied and went to the new designated room. After about 15 minutes of sitting in the room and no one came in, I went to inquire on whether or not an announcement was made. I was told that they asked one of the women to let everyone know I was there. I went back to the room and waited. An hour passed and no one showed up.
Needless to say, I was very disappointed. My pride was hurt. I couldn't understand what went wrong. I thought about not returning, then I thought about only going for the first 15 minutes and then leaving if no one showed during that time frame. Then the Holy Spirit convicted me. He asked:
Am I only willing to serve Him when it is convenient and everything is going according to my plans?
Was I going to stop going forward with what He assigned me to do because of some opposition?
Would I throw in the towel every time the road got a little bumpy?
"The LORD gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: 'Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.' But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the LORD by sailing to Tarshish." (Jonah 1:1-3 NLT)
Was I like Jonah? Unwilling to go where God sent me? Even willing to flee from His presence?
May it never be...
I was not proud of my thoughts at all. I began to realize that this walk isn't about me - at all. It is about God's kingdom and how He chose to use me. Further, it was also about His other children. If I had been sent and didn't go how would they hear about Jesus and His love for them? What if this was their last opportunity to hear the gospel?
"Then the Spirit said to Philip, 'Go near and overtake this chariot.' So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' And he said, 'How can I, unless someone guides me?' And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him." (Acts 8:29-31 NKJV)
I chose to be like Philip not Jonah. I decided to go back and stay the full hour, whether someone showed up or not.
I went back the following week, and sat in that small room. People passed by and looked, but no one crossed the threshold. Women went by having conversations, sometimes arguments - replete with cursing. The tension in the air was thick at times. There I sat though, for that hour, reading God's word...primarily to strengthen myself while I sat there alone - seemingly with no real purpose.
The next week I went back and did the same thing. No one showed up.
By the forth week I felt as if I had a routine going. Check in, announce I was available to teach, and sit in the room and wait for someone to show. This time, someone came in. This young woman asked if it would bother me if she ironed her clothes in the room with me! I told her no. After a few minutes passed she asked me if I was just going to sit and wait to see if anyone wanted to come to Bible study. I told her "Yes". As long as the staff allowed me to come, I would - and I would wait to see if anyone wanted to be taught from God's word. She looked dumbfounded. I think I recall her shaking her head in disbelief over my reply. She finished her ironing and she left. I finished waiting the remainder of the hour and I left.
I don't know if I was more affected by that encounter or if she was. I recall having a feeling of resoluteness. An assurance. A boldness that said no matter what I would stand on and stand for God's word. Though I may not be recieved, I would go.
Week five rolled around and when I got to the facility I was shocked to see a few of the old staff members back. Things were back to business as usual. They announced Bible study and the women came. After a month of not teaching, I taught once again. After the Bible study, I spoke with one of the staff members that told me she heard how I kept coming and sat alone in the room. She was glad I stayed and assured me that as long as she was there I would never have to sit in a room alone again. I thanked her but assured her I wasn't alone. God was with me and teaching me during that time as well.
Sometimes He has to pull us out of our comfort zones so we can see what we are made of. Sometimes He needs to see how much we have grown. Sometimes we need to know what it is like to be "alone with God" especially when things are not going our way.
I am still not sure how all of those circumstances came together. But I am sure however, that even when I am faced with walking this journey in tough territory I am capable of waking it alone - with God.
" ... For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NKJV).
Just Around the Corner,