Sometimes the Psalms become poignantly autobiographical for me, as I am sure they do for all who love them and meditate in them daily. Take Psalm 71:17–18, for example: “O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shown thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” Well, I’m not that old, but I am older, and I do have a little gray hair. And I still have a burden from God for which I am grateful every day. My burden is that we on the BJU Seminary team would impress the importance of having a heart for God on every student God sends us to train.
I want all of our students to have a heart for God like Ouya. When you read this article, Ganda Bongo Ouya will be back in Chad, West Africa. Ouya completed a master of divinity degree in the Seminary with a concentration in Bible translation under the sponsorship of Bibles International. Ouya was a spiritual leader in his country and the father of six children. He left a lucrative position as a hospital administrator to train for the ministry in Cameroon. There he worked as a day laborer to support himself through several years of training in a seminary operated by fundamental missionaries.
Ouya’s burden to see the Bible translated into the languages of his country brought him to BJU for 18 more months of concentrated study in Bible translation, leaving his family behind. Imagine studying on the graduate level—not in your first language (a tribal dialect), not in your second language (French), but in a third language (English). Now, imagine taking classical Hebrew and Koine Greek, advanced courses in Bible translation technology and techniques, and advanced Bible interpretation and theology while working all the hours you can to support yourself and your family back home. Think that is enough to get a fellow down, make him complain or feel sorry for himself? Not Ouya. Joy, pure joy—that is all I ever saw out of him besides overflowing gratitude for the privilege God had given him to be here and to prepare to serve his people. What a heart for God!
I want all of our students to have a heart for God like Ohm (“Ohm” is his American nickname taken from the electrical plant in Thailand where his father worked; his real name is Attisith Chamnan-Ua—don’t bother trying to pronounce it). Ohm is from a Buddhist family and had committed to being a Buddhist monk. He first attended a Christian church with some friends so he could convince them to return to Buddhism. Instead, he became convicted and trusted Christ as his savior. By faith, he began to walk with Christ, became a youth pastor and immigrated to the United States to gain further training for the ministry. He completed a master of divinity degree here at the Seminary, relying on mission agency scholarship funds and trusting God to meet his needs day by day. Ohm saw God move the language, culture and money mountains as he persevered. He radiates love for God and love for others. His driving desire? To return to his home and reach the Thai people for Christ in a land steeped in Buddhist philosophy and tradition. He has returned to Thailand and is reaching his people for Christ. What a heart for God!
To these fascinating examples from among our foreign students, I add the scores of American young men working nearly full time putting themselves through seminary to prepare for the work to which God has called them. Forgive me, but I cannot help but wonder if the churches they will serve someday will really be worthy of them. Will those churches ever know and fully appreciate what these young men have put themselves through so they can serve effectively? I daily see their blurry eyes from long hours of work and study—all because they love God and they want to obey Him, knowing full well that financial security and a life of ease will likely not be in their future. I hear their heartfelt prayers. I witness their tears while they preach and become overwhelmed with the needs of believers and unbelievers alike. These are young men, middle-aged men and—in a few cases—older men whose hearts are breaking for America, her church and her lost. And that is a benediction of God upon them, for a broken and a contrite spirit God will not despise. They are the real All-Americans. What hearts for God!
The Right Ingredients
Ouya, Ohm and the All-Americans each have a heart aflame for God. They see Him as their ambition, the very passion of their lives. They fear Him, love Him, obey Him, pray to Him and preach Him at every opportunity. They strain every nerve to understand Him and experience Him at work in their own hearts so they can work with the hearts of others for His glory. For them a conscience void of offense toward God and men is the only standard of holiness that is acceptable. For them loving God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength is the first great priority and loving others the second priority as the overflow of their love for God. They say with the psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee” (73:25).
Our prayer is that God will call and compel an army of men like this into His harvest, men whose eyes are set on the mark of the prize of the high calling of God and on the face of Jesus Christ, to whom they have given their whole heart for His glory.