Written by Kati Sherman
At the front of the simple classroom was a single whiteboard, the only teaching tool for me to use. More than 35 teenagers sat on a tiled floor with notebooks in their laps and knees touching one another. They were familiar with this weekly two-hour English lesson, but I was just a visitor. I was The Native English Speaker from Canada – and with that introduction some got giddy, others stared blankly, and a few whispered to one another.
I was visiting friends in Indonesia, and they had recommended I check out a ministry in North Jakarta where over 500 kids came through weekly for school. This ministry was said to be sustained by miracles, so I was excited to spend two days in their midst.
On that whiteboard, I wrote the word “character” and then below, I listed:
In their notebooks, the students copied the words down, and using dictionaries, they found the translation in Bahasa Indonesian. But more than translation, I wanted to talk about the meaning.
“Who do other people say that you are?” I asked them rhetorically. “God wants our character to be described by these words.” I talked about each characteristic, provided synonyms, scenarios and even impromptu skits, but afterwards I felt like I had shorthanded them.
Talking about fruit doesn’t benefit ones’ health, one must eat of it to truly benefit. Who was I to tell these teenagers about peace when I had little understanding of the threats they faced living in a slum. Jesus, you came to live among us so we could understand the Kingdom of God. Who would live in these slums to pray for the Kingdom of God to come here?
I was blessed to have been raised and surrounded by fruit-bearing people. I had admired these fruit-bearers and wanted to produce the same crop. I realized, here and now, I could produce good fruits because I had the Spirit living in me.
A worker from the miracle-sustained ministry offered to walk me through a slum where some of the students lived. Many families here spend their days collecting garbage and then sorting it to find recyclables to resell.
Amid the poverty, I could see a decent structure being built up in the distance. As I got closer, I realized that the building was a mosque. It was likely that money had been sent from Saudi Arabia to cover the building costs. Helpless as I was at the sight of this mosque in this wasteland slum, I prayed to God:
Raise up people with your Spirit to live here, that this community may eat the fruit and know that your Kingdom has come.