JACKSON, Tenn. (BP) -- My first full-time job was teaching high school English, mostly ninth graders, in Tidewater, Va. I taught for two years before moving to New Orleans to attend seminary in preparation for God's call on my life.
Every now and then, a former student will contact me through Facebook. I never cease to be amazed by how many of them remember me. I was not the most attentive teacher, but I loved my "kids." Few things give me more pleasure than catching up on their lives and seeing photos of their families.
Not long ago, one of these former students posted a photo of me from almost 25 years ago. I had a good laugh at my fluffy hair and my skinny waistline, and I was tickled when other students posted comments about it.
I noticed a particular comment from another of my former ninth graders, one with whom I had not previously connected. We clicked off as friends and that evening my wife and I enjoyed clicking through my former student's family photos on Facebook; we also discovered that she had moved to Tennessee, only an hour or so from Jackson, where my family lives.
One photo album caught my eye: "Family Baptism." In it were copies of the baptismal certificates for her entire family. I smiled at first, but I gasped out loud when I saw that my friend and seminary classmate David Leavell had baptized them. What an amazingly small world, to have taught her over two decades ago and to find out that a friend had baptized her in another state, where we both now live!
As I was having my quiet time the next morning, I mused about this and wondered if I had had any small role in her conversion to Christ, and suddenly I was gob-smacked by something I had completely forgotten: I had prayed over the rosters for my classes throughout the year.
I prayed for those who came from difficult family lives. I prayed for those who were struggling with the temptations of the teen years. I prayed that I would encourage them all and that they would somehow see the light of Christ in me. I prayed that the students who were believers would be strengthened and that those who did not know Christ would be drawn to Him.
I had forgotten that I had prayed, but God had not forgotten. He remembers all of our prayers, and He answers them in His own way and in His own time. His Providence redeems our lives and our souls but also our prayers.
Through a fluke, I found out about this answered prayer, and it makes me wonder how many of my prayers have been answered that I have not heard about. How many other students, neighbors, waitresses, cashiers and co-workers have I prayed for in passing and have forgotten about but who have not been ignored by God?
I am grateful for my former student, who is now my sister in Christ, just as I am grateful for David's faithful ministry. I have been humbled once again by God's incredible grace, for where we are weak, He is strong. Where we have forgotten, He is faithful.
Gene C. Fant Jr. is executive vice president for academic administration at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress
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