by Jessica L

One day in the summer of 2021, Lazarus, a third-year junior high graduate, called me from where he was working out of town. Lazarus told me on the phone that he was an orphan and was sent to work as soon as he graduated from junior high school even though he had been admitted to a very good high school. He wanted to continue his studies, but his uncle insisted that he should not. So I helped Lazarus apply for MSI’s school assistance project.

The day before freshmen registration, the train that Lazarus was scheduled to take was suspended due to heavy rain. It seemed that he would not be able to complete registration procedures in time as the school stipulated that he must do so in person. Lazarus was reluctant to give up. He asked if I could find a way to help him register. To my surprise, the school agreed to let me register on his behalf. It was the last few hours before the deadline, so I rushed to the school and breathlessly completed the task. When I informed Lazarus, who was stuck on the road, that the registration was successful, he said, “Teacher, I am alive. Before this, I felt like I was dead!”

Three months later, it was the Yi people’s New Year. Lazarus’ cousins, who were working out of town returned home and took Lazarus out from his school directly back to his village. So I went to visit Lazarus’ home with some local friends. Members of every generation in the family were also there. We stayed at his home for three hours and in the process of talking with his family, I came to the realisation that it would be impossible for Lazarus to go back to school to continue his schooling. The family believed that studying was of no value and was just a waste of time and money. That day, as I sat on the small bench in the yard, with Lazarus and his sister sitting next to me, I did not feel sad. Instead, I deeply sensed God was also sitting there with us, surrounding us and the fire pit.

Soon after, Lazarus dropped out of school and went to work elsewhere. When I was feeling sad, God told me: What matters is not whether Lazarus can attend school, but that when he is sad and helpless, you should act by sitting alongside him and praying for him, so my love is placed directly into his heart. What God wants us to share is a True Love. Although our eyes are more likely to see schooling opportunities and the healing of diseases, which are indeed God’s ways of expressing love, they cannot replace the value of love itself. Children will lose schooling opportunities, sick people will die, but God’s love will never change. This fact is true for those we serve, and it is even truer for me. He loves us and shines His light into our darkest moments.