Stephen passing out bingo cards to 6th graders in
Pelhřimov, Czech Republic. Not only was bingo
a helpful tool to teach English, but with the learning
came much laughter and competition.
My story actually takes place on our very first day of teaching. The night before Meredith was up most of the night with an upset stomach, so I went to teach by myself the first day. In the class of 9th graders, rather than introducing myself, I suggested the class ask me questions to get to know me. Questions you might expect were asked: How old are you? Where are you from? What do you like to do in your free time?
After answering about 10 questions of this type, I asked for one more before we started the lesson. A guy in the back of the room raised his hand, and asked, “Do you believe in God?” I replied with a simple, “Yes,” but then I asked him the same question. He said he did not. So I asked the rest of the class, “Do any of you believe in God?” All 25 students said they did not. The question is vague of course; I mean, about which God are we even talking? But that is beside the point. I knew the statistics of Christianity in the Czech Republic, so I wasn’t surprised by their response. But in that moment, statistics became people, people traveling to hell.
After class, I wanted to know why that student asked me if I believed in God. I caught him going out the door and asked, “Of all questions, why that one? You could have asked me anything, but you asked if I believed in God. Why?” His response is what I hope you find encouraging. He answered, “Because there was an American here last year (whom he even remembered by name) that said he believed in God. So I wanted to see if you did too.”
Be encouraged that when you leave the mission field overseas, the words you spoke remain. Remember this! Every place God has taken you to share his gospel remains a place where the gospel seed was sewn – that is, if you actually proclaimed it. So when others come along, God continues through them what he began with you. It is ultimately God’s work after all.
- Stephen Payne
Meredith Payne (Stephen's wife) is teaching a class of 7th graders in Pelhřimov, Czech Republic. She became a celebrity in the schools (we were the only Americans in the city), as many students got selfies with her afterwards.