One of my greatest joys in English teaching is incorporating spiritual topics into class. I have found many opportunities to do so, and my students, all professing Christians, seem to appreciate the focus on the Lord and His word.
Each day, we memorize one Bible verse. We’ve finished Psalm 103, and we’re now in Hebrews 11, which has generated profitable discussion about faith and God’s promises. When we reached verse seven about Noah, we covered the concept of inheritance, which was difficult for one student to grasp due to his village’s custom of burning the possessions of the deceased for his use in the afterworld. At that student’s request, I repeated my explanation of inheritance to him after class, and his eyes lit up when he finally grasped the importance of Jesus’ death so that every believer, like Noah, can “become heir of the righteousness which is according to faith”.
God’s wrath has been another eye-opening subject for those who have heard more about His love than His anger. Each day I give the students reading comprehension homework assignments based on J. I. Packer’s Knowing God, covering one chapter per week. After examining His role as Judge last week, we moved on this week to the topic of His righteous wrath and punishment against sin. This meshed perfectly with our hymn study, as we were in verse two of In Christ Alone this same week. All eyes were fixed soberly on me as I explained the English meaning of the line, “On that cross, as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied”. The students then expressed the great thankfulness they feel to Christ for His amazing sacrifice on their behalf.
Sometimes spiritual discussions arise at unexpected times. One day a student raised her hand in class to ask me, “How is Christianity different from other religions?” I wasn’t entirely surprised, because I’d given this essay question to the students a few days previously, but neither was I prepared to fully answer that question, so I punted, saying I’d give a detailed response later. She politely requested an immediate reply, so with a silent prayer for God’s help, I did my best at answering both this question and her follow-up (also from a writing assignment I’d given), “Why are you a Christian?” The students’ essays on these topics had given me a good basis from which to bring up points that they may never have considered before.
And sometimes heart-to-heart connections are forged in the trials of life. Just a week ago, my grandmother passed away, and my students were deeply sympathetic toward me upon hearing the news. Little did I expect how soon I’d be able to reciprocate to two of them who also lost family members within the next few days. One was a male student whose grandmother died, and another was a female student whose beloved brother unexpectedly passed away, leaving her overcome with grief. The other students joined me in surrounding her with love as she sat sobbing. Many of them had also experienced the death of siblings, in the absence of adequate medical care in their villages. Though I have never personally known that type of bereavement, I could relate to her sorrow a little better because my own loss was so recent. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Would you join me in thanking God for the mutually edifying spiritual discussions in which I’ve been able to engage, and in praying that such profitable conversations would continue and bear eternal fruit for His glory? Thank you very much!