Fresh mango-coconut smoothies in hand, I pat the smooth tile floor and invite the children to have a seat. “Come, I will tell you a story,” I say to the middle-school-aged Great River children who frequently come to play with River (and River’s toys), look at our books, learn some English, or hang out.
I had been praying about who I could reach. I feel like I have limited opportunities to leave the house at this stage of life—napping kids and endless chores. Then one day, mid-prayer, I had my answer: The children come to you.
Taking advantage of today’s visit from Hana and her friends, I turn it into a sharing opportunity rather than switching into productivity mode (cooking or doing house chores while they play with my children). I ignore the dishes beckoning me from the sink and the ants swarming around breakfast’s remaining sticky spots.
As the three children sit down, I hand them smoothies and open up one of the My Bible Friends books we recently lugged across the ocean to add to our library. I turn to the story of “Elijah and No Rain.”
“About Isa?”—that’s Jesus—13-year-old Hana asks.
“It’s about God in Heaven and the prophet Elijah,” I reply. I translate it into Khmer and hold the book up for them. Islam shares our belief of not bowing down to idols, so this was a story on which we had some common ground.
“He repaired an . . . What do you call this where they put an animal on it to burn and sacrifice it to a god?” I ask as I point.
“Bo-chia,” (alter) Hana volunteers.
“Ok. Elijah repaired a bo-chia. He had the prophets of Baal build a bo-chia, too, but they failed when they called their gods to bring fire down on their dry altar. Then Elijah told the people to pour water all over the alter he repaired . . . until it was soaking wet.” The children raise their eyebrows, engaged in the story.
“Elijah prayed to the Almighty God. Then, fire came down from heaven and burned the entire bo-chia up! The water, the stones, and the animal sacrifice! Then the people knew that God Almighty was the true God. That night, it rained over all the land, ending a long drought.”
Seeing their smoothies all gone, I shut the book with a smile. “I will tell you more next time.”
Did I pick the best story? Are they listening just to be polite? If I tell them about Jesus every time they come, will they stop coming? I don’t know. Sometimes we can be so paralyzed, wanting to do things perfectly, that we don’t do anything at all. Please join me in praying that Hana and her friends encounter Jesus, the true God, whenever they enter our home.