Each year we say goodbye to a group of seniors that have become a part of our lives. They are our adopted children. We have prayed for them, loved on them, challenged them, and laughed with them. Each year as we sit and watch their graduation ceremony, we shed a tear or two. Each class is special and each class will always hold a special place in our hearts.
It reminds of us of our call. This is what we are here to do. As they cry and give us hugs, it warms our hearts to know that God has given us the gift of this ministry.
We always have that moment of talking about the next class coming up - what will they be like? These new freshmen? After years of loving students, we know that they will be just as special - we will hug them and cry for them as they say farewell in four years as well.
Change is a given. I probably wish to keep every class right here with me, but my quiver would certainly be full. Instead of focusing on the goodbyes - we relish the memories. Most of all, we find it to be a privilege to continue to pray for them.
Years ago, we sat and listened to the testimony of a man who grew up in a one-room school house with the same teacher for most of his life. When he was in college, his teacher came to see him. As they sat at dinner she pulled out a small book and began to make notes as she asked him, What are you doing for God's kingdom? In that moment he realized that she was spending the years of her retirement visiting her students and filling that small book. What a precious, precious gift!
As we say goodbye again, we are reminded of the task at hand. Love the students God has placed in front of us. Pray for them, share God's word with them. Simple enough, yes? But oh so draining - the times they do not respond to our love, the times they make poor choices, the times they look toward the world for answers instead of on their knees. All of this builds who they are and who they will be - it is all a part of God's plan and we are such a minor role in it. But our role is still important. We do not take this calling for granted.
We pray that in our twilight years we can look around and see hundreds of students who have committed their life to kingdom work. Maybe as a doctor, a missionary, an artist - whatever their calling may be - they are doing it for the Lord. We pray that in those moments we can praise God for His wisdom and not our own. It would be much easier to do this job in America - we would be around family, financially better off - probably career-wise as well. That is not our calling. For us to do what we have been called to do, we have to be here in Indonesia right now. Maybe it is only for the benefit of our own children, maybe it is for one relationship with one child, maybe it is for one word to one child. Whatever it may be, we praise God for the calling and the blessings we have received from it.
As communities around the world have graduation parties and ceremonies, we once again have a challenge for you - pray for the futures of these graduates. Pray for them often and pray that they are protected in their college years and continue to seek Christ in all that they do. Most of all, let them know you are thinking of them. Send them Facebook messages, let them know they are still loved, thought of, and prayed for often. Oh the sweet, sweet blessing to hear from your former students years later - as they are married, with children - and they think to email to you. Just a way that God blesses you again and again.
Congratulations graduates! May your lives be abundantly blessed with Christ's love and direction.