Inspiration from Ishmael

Although my many friends are working hard from early morning till night everyday, I, who have no more dependent children, retired, and have an excuse of being on chemo, get easily lazy relaxing too much.  In the midst of such a temptation, three Bible classes are always good to stimulate my lukewarm spirit.

 Zealous Ishmael

Last week 29-year-old Ishmael, who is an assistant pastor in a small church, came to our ESL Bible class as a guest speaker.

I’ve known him for about 7 years.  When he was taking a pastoral internship in a mega-church which had about 10,000 attendance every Sunday, George, who also started working there as a new pastor, introduced him as a zealous young man who was giving out tracts on the streets, or in the front of high schools every day.

His bald head, well sun-tanned body that is always in good shape as the result of good training, and his zeal for God have never changed even after he married a beautiful wife.

Showing up in the class with a backpack and tennis shoes, he politely greeted George,

“ Hi Coach, thank  you for inviting me here!”

He opened up his big thick Bible, and  began his sermon.

 Servant of All

 Ishmael, who was born to an Iranian father and Mexican mother, described himself as a rebellious child who didn’t respect his father or even hated him.  The Koran or God were not interesting while the parents tried to teach him about them, but the one who influenced his spiritual growth was his Catholic grandma, who was always next to him and prayed for him whenever he was in trouble.

While he was attending a sports gym to enjoy what he loved to do,  he got a desire to tell others whom he met in the gym about God and he told Him his desire, and then gradually his lofty talent in sports enticed other attendees who wanted a personal trainer.

Soon after, he was given an opportunity of a ministry by opening a free gym, called “ Dungeon “ in a church’s garage.  His prayer was answered.

Yet, as he had been training people how to run, aiming at the annual L.A. Marathon, he said, he got angry because he wanted to run fast instead of running slow with people he was training.

Then the Bible spoke to him:

“ Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

“I asked God to give me an opportunity to minister to those I met, and He gave it to me.  But now I was so selfish and complained about it!”, said Ish.

When he noticed  this way, he wept.

On the day of L.A. Marathon, Ishmael, who had enough ability to compete with the fast runners, chose to run with his slow group of trainees all the way to the end.  When they reached the goal raising hands up together, he said he felt great joy, which was probably very different from the joy of winning the race.

We all have desires to be the number 1, or to be better than others, especially if we have the ability to be.  Ishmael chose to give up such a desire for his slow trainees.  I was moved by his humility, the strength behind of his tenderness, and his obedience to God.

I admire Ish, who wants to be a great servant of God continually.  He is an inspiration and  I want to be like him!

Ish, thank you so much! 🙂

with Ish

with George, and Ish (center)


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