One Decision - Across Pacific Magazine

Just One Decision
One Decision

by David Hall

Dhaks street sceneWhy is this trip to Bangladesh so special to me? Only a dozen students are in this Discipleship Training School where I am teaching this week - some six or eight hours outside the capital city of Dhaka. When I arrived in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Mosese was there to pick me up at the airport. On the way to his lovely home and family he thanked me again for coming to his remote village in Samoa so many years ago. (Picture: driving down a typical street in Dhaka, Bangladesh.)

Don’t under-estimate the potential of this current DTS to impact the world. Just one decision can have an impact on nations

I could never dream the impact on the world
that small group would have over the next few decades.

It was late 1970's. Loren Cunningham came for a short visit. Loren is now recognised as "the most traveled man in the world" as he's gone in obedience to the Lord to share the Gospel in literally every nation and most states and provinces of the world. Don’t under estimate the potential impact of a short visit.

We made a simple decision to show Loren, the founder of Youth With A Mission (YWAM), something God created: a waterfall that was only about a mile up the mountain from the YWAM base in Nuu’uli. He didn't tell us until later that he was recovering from a sprained ankle. But he wasn’t about to let that stop him. We all made it to the waterfall without incident and enjoyed a swim. My wife, Lydia, got a swimming lesson from the former USC water polo scholarship recipient (Loren).
Samoan house
Then we made a decision to climb onto the big rock and ask God one question: are we to run a DTS in Samoa? We all sensed that God was saying, "yes". I remember sharing that I felt God was saying “Yes, even if it’s only for one student.” We went back to the YWAM base encouraged that we knew our next assignment from God.  (Picture: Man and children in front of a Samoan kitchen.)

We put the word out the best we knew how – through the “coconut wireless” (word of mouth) and several students applied. But only one person who started at the beginning of the school made it to the end: Suega. One student was asked to leave because of repeated theft, another for even worse stuff. One left because of family problems, and a couple others came to the school a week or so late.

The week I taught at the school - which we decided to locate in Apia, the capital, even though we were living in Pago Pago - Suega invited me to go with him on the weekend to his village in Savaii and speak to the small group of young people who met regularly for prayer and Bible study at his home. It was led by his older brother, Opeta. I couldn't help but wonder: Would going to one small home fellowship make any difference? Don’t under-estimate what God may have in mind. Just obey what He tells you to do.

I could have decided not to go. I could have reasoned that I needed to get back to my wife, especially since we had been married less than a year and I had very little money to leave with her when I left for Apia. But I knew I could trust God to look after her and the team as I was faithful to go in obedience to God.

Samoan homeWhen the week of teaching was through, Suega and I hopped on one of the crowded buses in Apia for the hour or so drive past the airport to the wharf for the ferry to Savaii. We waited at the wharf in the hot sun for what seemed like just shy of eternity. Finally the ferry came and we could board. Was it the MV Queen Salamasina?  Anyway, we got on. But finding a place to sit on the deck - along with the pigs, the coconuts and all the Samoans who were also looking for a place to sit down on the open deck - was no easy task.  (Picture: A typical bus in Apia, the capitol of Samoa)

The smell of the diesel, along with the ocean waves, usually does a number on my head when I take a boat trip like this. Sometimes I just feel like I want to dig a six foot hole and cover it up. But I knew the pain in the head would only be for a season. When we finally arrived in Savaii it was into another old bus and off on the final section of the journey to Suega’s village.  His village had about 1000 people, mostly children and youth. At the time it seemed like I was going to the ends of the earth, much like this trip to teach in this Bangladesh DTS.

Samoan hospitality is hard to beat. So what if there’s no running water inside the house, no TV, no fast-food – and lots of other stuff we’ve come to accept as normal to our lives. (We didn't have most of that in Pago anyway.) Did I mention that most of the  “johns” were a 50 yard dash - with sufficient holes in the old boards at the right level to keep an eye on what’s going on in the village while you take care of business? Sometimes simple is better!

When I shared from the Word of God at the home fellowship I sensed a real hunger for more of God. I challenged them to pay the price – whatever that might be – to obey God with their lives. But I could never dream the impact on the world that small group would have over the next few decades.

Samoan childrenAfter they attended a six month Discipleship Training School, one of them went to Hong Kong, another to Japan, a couple to Taiwan, and the one who just thanked me for that long-ago trip to his Samoan village - to India. Still others from that home fellowship went to other parts of the world to share the good news.

Several of them started and still lead YWAM ministries. Some, like Mosese, have many workers serving under their leadership to advance the gospel and are highly regarded by Christian leaders in those nations.  Others are working with various Christian churches and/or mission organizations. (Picture: Samoan children in a typical Samoan fale.)

No doubt there were many factors that played a role in influencing and shaping the lives of those young people. Most of them grew up attending Congregational, Methodist or Catholic churches in their village - like most Samoans. But what a tremendous privilege was mine to have played a small part in their decision to “Go into all the world...”. Of course if I knew the formula to repeat those results, I’d do it again a thousand times over.

We’re called to plant the seeds (normally through sharing the Word), to water (normally through prayer and follow up), and shepherd the flock God gives us - the best we can. But God is the one who brings the increase – in His way and in His time. So don’t under estimate what God may want to do with just one decision.

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