It was the last time of the academic year. Then it dawned on me that for some it could be the last time ever.
I thought the futsal practice was probably not on on Tuesday night. Exam season is over and it’s basically the spring holidays for students at the Hokkaido Institute of Technology (HIT). My friend who originally invited me to that futsal club said he thought it probably wasn’t on. I was looking forward to a relaxing evening in with my wife when I got a message from another friend whose a more regular member – it’s on!
After a moment’s hesitation, I decided it would be best to go, even though it was a bit last-minute and I had plenty of other things I wanted to do that evening. I’m glad I did. What with the New Year break and then being away for a couple of Tuesday nights, it had been a while since I’d seen the futsal gang. It was nice to catch up with them.
But during the practice it became clear to me that it would be the last one of the academic year. Then it hit me: all the 4th year students were about to graduate. As I was chatting to them about what they would be doing after graduating, I realised they were going to be spread right across the country. They all seem to be leaving Sapporo. Most of them, I haven’t got their contact details. I tried to exchange contact details with one guy, but he wasn’t interested.
So this is it, I thought, probably the last time I’ll see these 4th years for the rest of my life, probably until the day of judgement. As I trudged home in my wellies through 1ft of fresh snow, I ached. My body ached all over because it had been a while since I’d had any proper exercise! But more than that, my heart ached – with sadness at having to say goodbye, with hope and prayer that they will meet other Christians in all the different places they are going, with regret that I don’t remember having any significant conversations with any of them about Jesus. How could I have done better? Should I have been more forward, or more bold? What will become of them now? Who will tell them the gospel? My feet were heavy with snow, my heart was heavy with sorrow.
The next day, I was doing a Bible study with a Christian student from another university on Romans 10. Once again, this passage that I’m so fond of, struck home afresh:
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
I have been sent. But I didn’t preach to them. God forgive me.
I take comfort in the fact that they at least have now met a Christian, and have heard the name of Jesus. I invited some of them to events at church – none of them came, but perhaps having met a Christian they may be more likely to go to church when invited in the future, or to think of going to church when they hit a crisis. But more than that, I take comfort in the fact that God is sovereign, and uses the weak to show His power, that we might not boast in ourselves but in Him.
- May God have mercy on those students and put other Christians in their lives to preach the good news to them
- May God give me wisdom to know how best to make the most of every opportunity and the courage to take them
- May we boast always in the Lord and not ourselves