Divine Surprises

As I walked into the classroom for my first of three lessons, the professor was folding up a fish into a paper towel and putting it in his briefcase. Then he walked out and I was on! Though basically a captive audience, these 22 college freshmen gave me their undivided attention as I described the creation account from the book of Genesis.

On my first month-long trip to Irkutsk, Siberia, I was given the opportunity to speak to some of the students at the Science Institute. My interpreter, Sergey, asked several professors if I could speak in their classes. Most refused, but to my surprise, I received permission from a biology professor to teach his class for the next three sessions. And the first one started immediately! Even though I had next to no time to prepare, I felt good about the lecture I gave and the discussion afterward.

Unfortunately, the next lecture was scheduled for the following morning, bright and early, before their other classes. Many of the students would have to take an earlier train to make it. I was discouraged and convinced that I would be left talking to an empty room. But to my surprise, all 22 returned!

Toward the end of our second session, I asked the students, “How many of you had ever read the Bible?” Not one hand went up. Then I asked, “How many of you have seen a Bible?” Again, not a one. So I told them, “Be sure and come back for the final lecture tomorrow, as I’ll have a surprise for you!”

I ended my third session with a gift. Before I distributed the surprise, I asked, “If I give you something, do you promise to read it?” Everyone agreed. So with the help of my interpreter, we went around the room and handed each one a copy of the Bible in Russian. They were overjoyed, and the room filled with excitement!

After I returned to the front of the class, each student got up and walked to the front of the room carrying his or her Bible, almost like they were returning them to me. I turned to my interpreter and asked, “What is going on? Did I offend them?” He said, “No, they are bringing them to you for your autograph because this is the most precious gift they have ever received.”

What phenomenal hunger for God and for spiritual things these students displayed! I told them that anyone would be welcome to attend some small group discussions we would soon start in the city. You can be sure they read their new Bibles and I’m confident God caused great impact as a result. I trust each one has accepted the gift of eternal life God offers through Jesus Christ.

Sometimes God surprises us with wonderful opportunities to share His truth and love, but they’re not surprises to Him. May He give us boldness to make good use of these divine surprises.

What divine surprises have come up in your life? How have you been blessed by something unexpected?

Bob Reusser directs the Nav Encore Mission of The Navigators. You can learn more about his ministry here.

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