The Blog of WEC USA

Idols in the Classroom

By a worker in Asia

My wife has experienced some interesting days at a ceramics course she attends on the weekend. The group of about eight ladies know her well now, and she has had good opportunities to listen to some of their personal trials and worries. At lunch or after the class she has been able to do counseling: explaining there are real, lasting solutions to many of their problems, but that they only can come by knowing Jesus.

My wife approaches art and ceramics in a manner that constantly surprises both the students and teacher. When they have creativity problems they frequently look to her for new ideas—a very small, energetic lady isn’t easily forgotten, especially since she is the only foreigner taking the class. What she wears, eats, says (and the how she says it) and the type of art she chooses to do are all noticed by students, teachers and even the management.

During the first days of class the teacher and other students began to notice that on Sundays my wife came for only a few hours. Eventually they asked questions and learned that she is a Christian who attends church without fail. A number of discussions opened up because of this: “Where does she go?” “What does she do and why?” They all realize that, because of her absences, my wife will never earn the course certificate they will.

This country has a history that goes back thousands of years and includes a large number of different nationalities, cultures and languages. Along with these came their gods and goddesses. The museums here are filled with these ancient idols. Recently the teacher gave the class an assignment. She had museum photo books and asked each student to find and choose a different idol to make a copy of .

To this my wife adamantly said, “NO!”

As you might imagine, the first question was, “Why not?”

So she explained her position to her classmates and then privately to her teacher. They later asked her several questions. Of course the first answer she gave was, “There is ONLY one God! We are forbidden to make idols!” Her teacher tried to persuade my wife otherwise, but of course that wasn’t possible. In the end she and her teacher looked through the book of museum figures and found a statue that was not an idol, a mother nursing her child. Later at home, through an internet search of the museum, we confirmed the statue was not an idol.

When the class learned of this change, their response was mixed. For awhile there was a small uproar. Some students questioned whether or not they, too, as Muslims should be making idols? Others replied that this is simply art, and they were not really making idols. Some asked the teacher if they also could make something else. However, when the teacher asked these students why they did not want to make a copy of an idol, they really couldn’t give a clear enough answer. My wife was the only student allowed to change her assignment.

This is an ongoing story, of course, but it points out that if you are prepared for opportunities to share your faith and ask God to bring them, He will—often in unexpected ways.

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