Life is not simple and God’s ways are not our ways. Making the right decision may come at a cost. But in God‘s eternal plan, His blessings arrive in due time.
Most of us have experienced that some prayers prove better off unanswered. As a child, Amy Carmichael used to pray for God to change her eyes from brown to blue. Later, as a missionary in India, she was grateful for brown eyes, which made her less foreign and intimidating to Indian children.
My capabilities in speaking and conversing in the Iban language were the fruit of unanswered prayers. Almost my entire teaching career was spent with the indigenous people, especially the Iban. Not only did I learn the language but also came to understand their longhouse life and culture. I use to joke with my friends saying that I had ‘grown up’ in the longhouse. My friends sometimes introduce me as a CIBI to longhouse folks when visiting longhouses which means Cina Iban Bukai Iban. Literally it means a Chinese able to converse in the Iban language even though not an Iban.
Serving in the rural area was completely different from what it is today. I experienced walking for hours, wading upstream, pulling the longboat during dry spells, walking along jungle paths, braving the rain going uphill and downhill, listening to the sounds of nocturnal creatures and wildlife at night, pumping the keresone lamp to light up the school and hearing the rustling of falling leaves during windy seasons.
On the brighter side, I enjoyed the local fruits, vegetables, jungle products and longhouse delicacies like tunu babi, pansuh ikan and manuk, upah lalis and many others. Most importantly, I liked the hospitality rendered by the longhouse folks. Whenever and wherever I visited their longhouses, the first words from them were “Udah makai nuan, Cikgu?’ and ‘Datai agi’ before I left. They would serve their best to you if you stayed overnight at their longhouse.
Unanswered prayer had rooted my teaching career with the indigenous people for more than three decades. Yes, I did apply for a transfer hoping to enjoy the glittering lights in the town. However, my transfer applications had always been turned down. Not only my prayers went unanswered, but the authorities directed me to serve further away. Unanswered prayer poses an especially serious threat to the faith of trusting children. I could not understand God, but I believed He has a purpose for me.
Today I realise why God did not move me out from the uncomfortable zone I was in. God was training me, polishing my life, moulding my character, equipping me with all the necessities I need in my later life. God was preparing me to serve with the indigenous people one day. During these years He was leading, guiding, caring and nurturing me to stand firm and courageous in all circumstances. After retirement, God crowned me with joy and peace whenever and wherever I visit the indigenous people and share with them my testimonies and the love of Christ. My experiences not only prevent me from being afraid but also strengthen me to participate earnestly in local mission trips to the timber camps, longhouses, and Ulu Julau areas. A privilege to be a CIBI!
Just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. Trust and obey God to get blessed .F.B. Meyer said, “The greatest tragedy in life is not unanswered prayer but unoffered prayer.”
So pray unceasingly in all circumstances and while waiting, keep trusting and obeying Him.
God has His great plan for you in your life.
Jason Siew S. A.
Nyelong Park MC, Sarikei.