Is It Gonna Burn?

Echoes of exploding bamboo ricocheted off the hillsides surrounding our jungle home as we watched fires consume the remnants of our three buildings. We’d been working furiously since Sunday, and now it was Thursday evening. We heaved sighs of relief as we crawled wearily onto our mats. Only one more day remained for us to complete our work. Most dropped off to sleep instantly, but a few of us gazed up at the stars overhead and wondered, What next? Then, with the knowledge that God holds the future in His hands, we also closed our eyes and slept.

Is it gonna burn – what you build in this life – is it gonna burn? Will you lose it all – when your work is tried – will you lose it all? Will you enter the kingdom as one to whom the Lord will say, “Well done!” Or will you cross over into His land, burned and scared, with an empty hand? Is it gonna burn?

Our story begins about a month ago. Sunday morning as we were preparing for our weekly shopping and internet trip, we noticed a large group of important looking people, surrounded by aids and guards, hiking up our trail.

Last June a law was passed stating that nobody is allowed to live on government land any longer. We’d heard in the news about people in our area being relocated, and wondered if it would affect us. We weren’t sure since the local government officials granted us permission to move here two years ago. But, just as it should, the new law does affect us. We had two long meetings, and the conclusion was that, although we would have to move, they would help us find a new place. They told us they really like us and appreciate what we’re doing, and they want to do anything they can to make our move as easy as possible.

The next week we learned that all our students would have to return to their homes since big things are also happening in their area. That was a huge blow to us, but we had a very precious time with them before they left. Most told us that although they had come to learn English, they now wanted to stay to learn more Bible. But they had to go, and we were left all alone.

Since then place after place has been offered to us – for free. The locals have made it clear that they want us here. We did not expect such an outpouring from the community, but it has made the idea of moving so much easier when people are practically fighting over us.

Then, last Sunday on our way up the river, we once again met the general and a bunch of soldiers. They informed us that we had one week to move! That would be a challenge for anyone, but for us it meant moving all our own stuff, plus the school and all the buildings, the hydro, toilets, and solar system….in one week! With all our students gone, it seemed like a complete impossibility, but since that’s what the government wanted us to do, that’s exactly what we set out to do.

We tore into the place, packing as fast as we could, tearing apart buildings, and moving all our stuff down the trail to the river by foot. Jason informed us that we had two days to pack and dismantle each building. That sounded reasonable – until the end of the first morning. The sun blazed mercilessly on us, and there was so much to do. Our clothes dripped with sweat, and we felt like we were about to faint from the heat and intense effort. Energy waned, along with enthusiasm.

Then, just when we needed encouragement most, the angels arrived. As we were throwing building materials over the wall we heard clapping and a shout. We looked up and saw students hiking rapidly toward us, waving their hands and grinning! Seven more pairs of hands immediately swarmed the building. Courage and energy revived, and by the end of that day most of Mango Hall lay in neat piles ready to be transported to the river – huge, heavy piles, I might add.

“Teacher, when we knew you needed help, we could not stay away and leave you to work alone,” they told us when we paused for a break. The jungle messaging system is real effective here! The next day eight more came, and three more on Thursday. We never told anyone we needed help, and we never asked anyone, either. God knew we couldn’t do everything on our own, so He sent eighteen strong brown angels with black hair and shining black eyes to our rescue.

Christ has given us the model and laid a foundation strong; He has gifted us with talents – for the strength to build we long! All those who claim to love Him, they, too, will face God’s test To see if they have squandered life or sacrificed their best.

Thursday as we threw remnants of our buildings into the fire, we pondered all the work we had put into our jungle home. But how could we possibly be sad? What had we lost? Nothing but a bit of bamboo and leaves. ¬†Because right beside us worked our students who love Jesus and want to tell others about Him. Students who used to be anything but Christians when they first came to us. And beside our students worked other young people we had never even met before, all working harder than anyone should have to work in such intense heat, and every one of them because they wanted to be there. We might have put a lot of effort into our jungle home, but we invested even more into our jungle people. We don’t need to fret about the loss of our home when we have souls preparing for the heavenly kingdom. What a blessing!

Things of a temporal nature steal our focus every day; Stop and take a breath – do you realize that ten souls just passed away? It’s time to stop the mockery, it’s time to awake and see: There is only a blink of time on earth – then all eternity!

Oh, Lord! We pray that every work and every life would be as gold, So that we would mirror the Master’s face till all the world is told! Though the wicked mock and reject us, empower us to stay true, And when our toil comes through the flames, we’ll give it all to You!

We can start over in a new location. We can build our houses again. We can teach more students. And while we are doing this, we can also know that we have students currently spreading the word about Jesus and His soon return to those around them. It is not time to pull back – it is time to push forward and expand our work for Jesus!

Our world is in a state of turmoil and expectancy. Many people are very afraid. Will you still have a reason to rejoice if you lose all the temporal things you have worked for? Will you have people by your side, ready to go to heaven with you? We pray that it is so. We have a work to do for Jesus. Let’s not waste our best efforts on things that are gonna burn.

Is it gonna burn – what you build in this life – is it gonna burn? Will you lose it all – when your work is tried – will you lose it all? Will you enter the kingdom as one to whom the Lord will say, “Well done!” Or will you cross over into His land, burned and scared, with an empty hand? Is it gonna burn?

Lisa and Sarah