An encouraging story we recently received by email:
In the summer of 2013, we hosted an Eastern European orphan boy through a Christian summer hosting program… to show him America, what family life is like, and hopefully love on him in Jesus’ name. We were advised to get The Story of Jesus in our child’s language (Russian) and to get other print materials in his language, which we did. He was with us for five weeks… Thankfully, he was usually pretty easy to get along with, and he was fairly patient with us all. But as the weeks wore on, not communicating was making our lives more and more difficult. He was crankier, he didn’t want to interact with us much, and the days dragged on. The “newness” of being in America had definitely worn off. It was painful to read about all the discussions that other host families were having with their EE orphans who could speak a little English… I really felt like we were “living in the moment” … unable to talk about what life was like for him, what he was thinking, etc.
Yet at the end of our hosting time, God broke through big. Tuesday night, two nights before he left, we watched The Story of Jesus in Russian (with English subtitles for us). I worried he would balk at giving up 67 minutes of Xbox b/c Xbox had become the only thing he wanted to do, something of an “escape” for him from the difficulties of living in a culture he couldn’t communicate with, I think. But once he heard the Russian language, he was completely glued to the whole movie. The whole movie. Never budged. The whole family was piled on our bed for 67 minutes, watching someone learn about Jesus for the first time. He happily giggled when Jesus performed miracles (loaves/fishes especially), then he wiped his eyes when Jesus was being crucified. Did I mention he was just 8 years old? He was deeply touched by the crucifixion. At the very end of the film, when the child narrators were explaining what it means to follow Jesus as Lord, to ask for forgiveness and receive eternal life, L enthusiastically nodded YES to everything. Yes, he wanted Jesus to forgive his sins. YES, he wanted Jesus to be Lord of His life. Yes, yes, yes!
We backed it up to the beginning of the narrator’s explanation of the plan of salvation and made sure he heard it again. Though limited by our language barrier (and my deep ache to TELL him about Jesus’ love), I really do think The Story of Jesus film made the incredible love and forgiveness of God clear to this little guy. I have to believe that God will honor L’s childlike step of faith. I believe that as children “we give all that we know of ourselves to all that we know of God” and He takes that and blesses it.
We sent PAL versions of The Story of Jesus and The Jesus Film back with him to (hopefully) watch again and share with others at his orphanage. We were told the hosted kids often bring home DVDs, and orphanage directors like that because all the kids can benefit from watching the new movies. We also sent a Russian children’s Bible, so that one day when he learns to read, he will have it. We hope. It is humbling to watch when God breaks through to reveal Himself to someone for the first time. Thank you all for your collective work to be the tool He used to do just that.