Last couple evenings I have been able to play some basketball with the guys outside our apartment. Today I wanted to shoot around a little and the court was empty. As usual after only a few shots and bounces of the ball, kids started to crowd the court. I have played with the idea of trying to see how many shots I can make before they come out and I have to share the ball with them.
This time I decided I'd try to improve their skills while we shot around together. So we played around the world. These kids were 10 years old, so we started by shooting 8 foot shots. They made their five shots and moved out close to the 3 point line. The biggest kid isn't having much luck, so he sort of folds his hands and feigns a prayer before he shoots. And it goes in. He does this several more times with remarkably better success. In face he beats me around the world, making his five 3 point shots before me. He even had me praying for help from above so I didn't finish last.
The highpoint of the 30 minutes on a sunny summer day though was talking to 'Billy' while we played. I said his Mongolian name when he first came out to play. He spoke a few words of English with me, which was surprisingly good. Then he asked in English, "How do you know my name?"
"You used to go to school with my daughter Maggie" I told him. "You came to her birthday party with your mom, do you remember?" It was only later when I was telling this story to Renee that I remembered it was Maggie's 4th birthday. She is now 10 1/2. But Billy said he remembered with a kind of nod. Later when we were throwing up 'prayers' for the ball to go through the hoop, he asked me if I believe in Jesus! "I do too", he said. "Our family goes to church", he added.
Maybe it is because it seems that finding Christians in Mongolia is so rare that this encouraged and struck me so. It reminded me that we are here to participate on what God is doing here AND to report on what he does independent of us. I was amazed to the point I knew I needed to write it down.
I asked him, "how can you speak English so well? Do you have a teacher?" He said, "No I just study on TV". The best part is when the boy who won our Around the World game was kind of playing at praying for God's help, Billy took the opportunity to tell him that praying to Jesus is the way to go.
I was amazed again, and didn't have to utter a word there. But I surely couldn't go to bed tonight without writing a few words here about what a great God we serve. There was such a sweetness in the way that Billy spoke English and spoke of Jesus in Mongolian to the other boys. He is the way to go!