God’s in the Game

Ethan Martin with kids in Soba, Papua, during the HIS Outdoor Education mission trip.

Ethan Martin with kids in Soba, Papua, during the HIS Outdoor Education mission trip.

I sat on a small rock, barely big enough for myself, with two little Papuan kids, doing nothing. This is supposed to be going a lot better, I thought to myself. We had arrived in the small village of Soba the day before, and I was trying my best to make friends with the kids, but so far, my feeble attempts at communication had not impressed them.

Aha! I was hit with sudden inspiration. “Let’s try and teach them how to play tag!” I called to my friend Ethan who sat with another group of kids nearby. I spoke out in Indonesian, their second language and mine, and explained the rules as Ethan and I demonstrated in front of them.

“Alright, let’s do it,” I said as I tagged the closest arm and ran off. I was met with stone-faced rejection. None of the kids started moving.

I explained it again, wondering if they hadn’t heard me, but had no more success the second time around.

Friend and classmate Dani Maxey plays guitar for kids in Soba.

Friend and classmate Dani Maxey plays guitar for kids in Soba.

I gave up and sat down again, wondering why God had brought me to Soba if I couldn’t even start a simple game. Times like these happen often enough to MKs, and for me it’s usually right before God shows how He can work in a situation, even when I can’t. In Papua, it means that God provides a “man of peace” in every village I’ve gone to. And I’m not exaggerating. Every time I find myself in an unfamiliar place, God’s gone ahead to prepare at least one person to lend a hand to whatever I am trying to accomplish. Whether it’s spreading a message about AIDS, trying to give medical assistance, or even just trying to start a game of tag, someone always shows up.

Finally, my “man” showed up—one of the younger kids translated the instructions more clearly for his friends. Moments later we were running and laughing together on the hillside, making memories and proving the truth of God’s Word.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” —Romans 8:28 (NAS)

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