I want to share my experience answering the call to teach.
Around 2005 I developed an intense desire to become a missionary. I prayed about it and gave God the desires of my heart. Amazingly enough, in just a short amount of time I would find myself having traveled 4 times to provide missionary services including disaster relief and international missionary fields. In 2006 and 2007 I volunteered at an orphanage, infirmary, and local churches in several cities in Jamaica including Kingston, Spanish Town, West Moreland, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and White House.
The part of the trip I remember most is the orphanage where I spent a lot of time with a little boy who was around 8 years old. To this day I cannot remember his name, but his face I clearly see. He had a beautiful golden cinnamon color, hair the color of coffee, and eyes that glistened like amber in the sun. His hands and feet were dirty as he didn’t wear shoes, and his clothes loosely hung over his lanky limbs. This orphanage had limited resources so supplies like clean water, soap, and other hygiene products were very scarce. Every visit he would nestle under my arm and together we sat on a bench under a tree to read a book about animals. He had memorized this book, and could tell me about every single animal, their sounds, what they eat, and their capabilities.
One day while reading the book he looked up at me with a smile that was forced in front of a heart that was full of fear and disappointment. Out of his mouth were the words that no adult can handle with a heart for children. Especially when you know the answer will not ease the pain. “Are you going to leave me?”
I could not think of a word to say. My eyes began to fill up with a well of tears and immediately my heart bore witness to the pain this child was feeling in that moment. “Leave you? What do you mean, leave you? I’m always with you.” I knew those words wouldn’t work for him.
“My father said he would come back to get me, but he never did.” He then lifted his shirt to show me a scar that reached from the top of his chest to his belly. He traced the scar with his tiny finger and gazed across the yard, reflecting.
“You see this? I had heart surgery. My father promised he would come see me in the hospital, but he never did. Now I’m here. I’ve been waiting on him to come.”
Yes, let that sink in. This was his reality. A reality I could not change, fix or save him from. In just a few days I would be loading onto a plane to come back to America where my world was nothing like his. He would remain in that same orphanage waiting for the love of his parents who may never come back. Or, prayerfully they will. But all in all I would never know.
“Let’s just keep reading while we have time together.” He snuggled back under my side and together we kept reading the book on animals.
When I returned to the United States I had a dream. Before me was a burning school house and all of the community stood in front watching it burn. Nobody would help stop the fire, but everyone gawked and murmured their opinions. Something in me knew I had to go in. I ran into the house and found twins, grabbed them, and ran out. When I ran out of the fire the crowd drew closer. In my right arm was a twin who had no burns, was healthy and unaffected. Everyone reached for the healthy twin. In my left arm was the twin who had burn damage, was underweight and appeared to have Downs Syndrome. Nobody reached for this baby, rather, I draw him close to my chest and said “this one’s mine.”
When I awoke, I didn’t question what I just saw. I knew God had a work for me to do with children. At the time I wasn’t sure what exactly that was. Later I found out one of the avenues I would be in education. The burning school house represented the system of education, and the state of which it is in. The children who needed rescued would be the children in need of more than classroom lessons, but someone who would truly care and love them in spite of their condition, intellect, and present state. The people standing by represented society, with all their opinions and ideas, but the lack of progressive ideas or desire to do what needs to be done. And finally, the twins. The healthy twin represented the more desirable type of child. One that is easy to love and care for, while the other twin represented the cast away. Someone needs to care for the cast away, unlearned- the forgotten and the unloved because all in all they are both the same.
God was calling me into the classroom to teach such children to offer hope, to mend what has been broken and to work with children who have exceptional needs. Today I am thankful for this call and I walk in it boldly. Every school year I learn something new and I gain more insight and passion for the children I reach. I am grateful to be an agent of change. It is hard at times, and every summer I question if I can do it another school year because the responsibility is so great. But each year I step into a classroom I know I’m in the right place, ready to receive my new batch of seedlings.
As I always say, “I don’t teach children, I grow them.”