Paul did not want to go on the mission trip to Ghana. He was absolutely terrified of going. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Olson had gone on many such trips and knew the joys that came from the hardships and especially the joys of sharing Jesus with people who wanted to know him so very much. So they made him go even though he pouted and looked very afraid all the way over on the plane no matter what mommy and daddy said to comfort him.
When they arrived and got settled, everything Paul was afraid of turned out to be true. He hated it all. They didn’t have a nice hotel room to stay in. They had a hut. The food was weird and hard to eat and made of things American kids don’t eat. The people looked funny, didn’t speak English and they even smelled strange to Paul. None of the events or work assignments they got were fun to Paul and he felt sick a lot because he didn’t like the food and didn’t sleep well. Noises in the night there were so different from home.
So Paul just stayed in his hut every day as his parents went out and ministered to the people of the village. No matter how many wonderful stories he heard of God’s miracles and the fun they were having getting to know the people, Paul was stubborn and he would not leave his hut. He just sat there day in and day out and played with his Rubik’s cube. He loved that toy. It was very good for keeping his mind off of his surroundings and trying to solve it which he never did.
One Thursday morning, Paul got up and ate with his parents. He noticed that either they were starting to serve American food or he was getting used to the stuff they cooked here because he kind of liked it and ate lots more than usual. Right on schedule then, Paul’s parents left to start the day’s work of building homes and buildings for the new church, teaching the people and working on Bible translations. Paul went to his bed and looked for his Rubik’s cube to start his day too.
But he could not find it. Where could it be? It was his best friend in this lonely place. He looked under his bedding, in his suitcase, everywhere. He was just frantic. He started looking all around the hut, even outside the windows on the off chance it got thrown out there. Then he remembered. The night before his mom asked him to leave for a while so she could clean up so he went out and found a tree stump down the hill from the hut area and he had it with him. But it was too dark to play with it so he laid it on the stump. The sounds of monkeys and animals in the trees started to make him afraid so he suddenly bolted back to the hut. He must have left it there.
He was going to have to go find it. Paul peeked out the door and the village area seemed quiet. So cautiously, he left the hut and walked down the hill toward the log. But he stopped when he got close. There was a small boy, about his size and age, sitting on the log looking at something. As Paul approached carefully, the boy looked up. In his hands was the Rubik’s cube. The Ghana youth looked at it in his hands where he was playing with it and then at Paul. Then the biggest smile you ever saw came over his face and he held it out to Paul to return it to him. That smile was so warm, so happy and fun loving, it seemed to almost say to Paul, “come play with me”.
Paul walked up slowly gazing at that friendly smile. The boy lifted the other hand and began to twist the Rubik’s cube skillfully but looking at Paul for approval. Paul watched the patterns the boy was making. “No not that way, this way” he felt himself saying in his mind and before he knew it, he had sat down. Before long, the two boys were engrossed in the toy. Paul could not resist helping the boy because it was clear this strange colored, funny smelling boy loved the Rubik’s cube just as much as Paul did and that made him just like Paul, not a foreign person at all.
The boys played for hours and what Paul thought was a time for him to teach this simple villager the hard logic of the Rubik’s cube suddenly changed when boy suddenly laughed with joy and solved it. He chattered excited phrases to Paul in his own language and Paul took it from him and held it up and then burst into happy laughter. “YOU SOLVED IT!” he shouted with amazement and a thrilled joy. “I never saw anyone solve it! That’s amazing!” Paul said with excitement. He patted the boy on the back showing his sincere respect for what he had done. “Hey let’s see if you can do it again.” Paul said and then he mixed it all up again.
Right away, the boy set to work, his tongue sticking out from his teeth just like Paul’s did when he was close to solving it. Paul watched tense as an athlete cheering in his heart for his new friend to finish the puzzle. He didn’t see the lead missionary come up.
“You boy’s having fun?” He said in his always friendly voice.
“Yes. Reverend Keith. It’s amazing. He solved it! He solved the Rubik’s cube. This is so cool. I never had a friend who could…” Paul’s excited bragging was broken but a shriek of laughter from his Ghanan friend. ‘HE SOLVED IT AGAIN!” Paul declared with excitement and he literally jumped up and started patting the boy and telling him how amazing he was. Reverend Keith was deeply pleased to see the boys from two very different cultures find fun together. He talked to the boy whose name was Ramda and told Paul his name and helped the boys talk to each other for about an hour before he had to get back to work.
Ramda explained that he too had to go help his dad work on their hut but both boys promised to meet tomorrow and play some more. As Paul and Reverend Keith walked back to the missionary huts, Paul asked. “What did Ramda say to you as he was leaving?”
“Well Paul.” The missionary said. “He told me to thank you for playing with him and he made an observation about the Rubik’s cube.”
“Oh what did he say?” Paul asked with excitement. “He is so good at it. I want to know his secrets.”
“He said it isn’t as hard as it looks.” Reverend Keith responded. “And you know Paul, the same is true of sharing your faith. By just being a friend, as you are being with Ramda, even if you are enjoying it and it seems natural, you are sharing your faith. All you have to do is not hide what you know about Jesus and let God guide you in acts of kindness, compassion and your natural desire to see Ramda be in heaven like you will.”
“Well I want that for sure. Thanks Reverend. I will let God show me how to share Jesus with Ramda. I want him in heaven partly because I want him to be happy and not go to, well, the bad place.” Paul answered.
“What is the other part?” The missionary asked.
“Well, so I will have him there to play with me.” Paul laughed.
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. [Matthew 5:14-16]