Jo arrived to the Old Testament Prophets class somewhat unexpectedly. Though she wasn't registered as a student at Koinonia Seminary in the Philippines, she was curious about the prophets, so she decided to sit in on Monday's class. On Tuesday, she returned. That morning began with a discussion of Hosea and his unfaithful wife, Gomer. Jo participated in class discussion with enthusiasm, but by late morning she had grown strangely silent and eventually excused herself from the afternoon session. She gave no further explanation, but concern was written all over her face.
By Wednesday, Jo was there again, this time wearing a broad smile. She handed her instructor a hand-written letter explaining her life story. As a young woman, Jo had served in a medical mission venture where she met her future husband. After marrying, they moved to Malaysia where her husband started a business. However, twenty-five years later, he left her. She was crushed. An ugly divorce followed his unfaithfulness. In the ensuing months, Jo struggled with deep depression, doubted her faith, and even attempted suicide. But on four separate occasions the Lord had someone there at just the right moment to stop her. Through the care and concern of a sister in Christ, Jo's life eventually stabilized and her faith was renewed. But bitterness toward her husband remained.
Only days before arriving in class, she had begun receiving emails and letters from him begging for forgiveness and pleading with her to take him back. God's hand had been heavy upon him. His affair ended badly, and his business had failed. He was broken and repentant, but Jo wanted nothing to do with him. However, God began to change her mind that Tuesday morning! The story of Hosea was deeply convicting and inspiring. It was as if a voice was saying, "Take him back! If Hosea can forgive Gomer, what about you?" By day's end, Jo was ready to forgive and restart their broken relationship.
“God began to change her mind that Tuesday morning! The story of Hosea was deeply convicting and inspiring.”
Jo's story is another reminder of the way God's Spirit works through the Scriptures to change lives. What a privilege it is to teach theology, but even more so to become God's unexpected instrument to bring renewal and reconciliation on distant shores.