Sri Lanka Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my trip to Sri Lanka!

The hardest part about traveling for me is meeting new people. I’m a generally shy person, and it takes time for me to open up to those I’ve met for the first time. However, the team I traveled with made it so easy to talk, so easy to share. There was sense of vulnerability in our midst that made our group tight nit from the beginning.

After 20+ hours of flight time, and a short layover in Qatar the first three of our group, Patty, Randy and myself, arrived in Sri Lanka early in the morning.  The remaining two members, Pastor Abel and Henrique, had an 8 hour layover and would join us later that day. When the last half of our team arrived we had lunch and were able to meet with Pastor Woody and Melanie, and it was suggested that Henrique would speak at the Youth service. We had some time before hand, so I had some quite time and that was when I felt prompted to share about my fear in coming to Sri Lanka.

That night I shared this verse:

Proverbs 2:8 …for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

I spoke about my fear in coming, being away from my Dad. I was also able to share a little about making where you are at your mission field. We chatted a bit more, we ate and then we rode back to the hotel in a tuk tuk.

Before we left the house, I noticed an older woman, her hair a mixture of grey and white and gathered at the back of her head. She wore a cobalt blue saree with white geometric designs all over. Timid and quiet in voice, yet she was seated in such a way…the way she held her self spoke of strength and perseverance. She teaches English at the orphanage we are working with during this trip. I’m not sure why but our eyes meet and I feel as if I have known her for a long time. At the end of the night, before we leave, she grasped my hand and held tightly as she kissed either side of my face. There was a sense of compassion and an unspoken message there, one that I can’t put into words plainly, but I will remember it forever.

The next morning as the team gathered for breakfast we began to share our “war stories”, that being moments during the day that either challenge, encourage or just standout to us from the previous day. It was at that time we noticed that several of us had shared on the topic of fear, and not letting that control us. Henrique had shared about fear during his youth message, Pastor Abel about fear at the home group he visited, and myself as well at the home group and none of us had mentioned it beforehand.  The Holy Spirit was connecting us through his word.

Now prior to the trip, it had been mentioned that I would be meeting with some teachers there, which at the time didn’t bother me because another teacher, Hilda was also scheduled to be on the trip. However, circumstances beyond her control caused her to reassess, and she decided it was best at that point to stay behind as a prayer warrior for our team. When Pastor Abel mentioned the teachers forum again, I began to get nervous. I asked to speak with Pastor Mitch, who began the forum, to better understand his expectations. He mentioned that he’d like us to talk about Teaching with Excellence, and understanding that even in your job you can be a missionary for Christ, which happens to be a topic that we spoke on at our first home group as well.

I spent some of my free time thinking and reading. I felt so inadequate at the time and questioned myself, did I really have anything to share with these teachers? I’m not a preacher, I didn’t go to Bible college…who am I? Then God gave me a word, here is what I shared with them…

Teaching with Excellence

As Christians we are set to a higher standard – a standard of excellence. We se this is Paul’s letter to the Colossians in verse 3:23:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the LORD, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

As TEACHERS we also know the burden of excellence – test scores, expectations from our principals. It can seem overwhelming, but if we remember what Paul says, “it is the Lord Christ you are serving” then the expectations of man melt and our true role of serving the Lord can sustain us.

Now let us look to our ultimate teacher JESUS.

Matthew 9:35-38

Jesus went through the all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

When I think about Jesus it amazes me that the Son of God would become a teacher. He could have been anything, a political official, someone with great wealth or power, but he became a teacher. I think it’s important to recognize this as we too have been called to teach. How special is it that Jesus shared in some of the same things we go through as a teacher?

-When students don’t listen (Matthew 19:16-30)

-When a student doesn’t understand (Mark 8:14-21)

-Managing a large group of students (Mark 6)

-Having to repeat himself (John 21:15)

Jesus shares in our struggles, burdens and joy of being a teacher. Here are a few points that you should know about being a teacher:

  1. God has appointed you to a position of authority and influence. (Matthew 5:14-16)      The classroom is our mission field. We must arrive to school knowing that God placed us here for a purpose. You will give light to everyone you come in contact with, students, teachers, parents and even the surrounding community.
  2. God also appoints the students in your classes.                                                                         If God appoints us, doesn’t it also stand to reason that God also has a hand in the lives of the children he places in our care? Jesus hand picked his disciples, and they were not perfect. Some would even call them uneducated…but can you image in the joy that Jesus felt when the disciples learned from him? When the disciples had that moment of understanding. We have all surely had an experience of seeing a child understand a topic for the first time.
  3. God gives you wisdom to know exactly what to say to students.                                           As a teacher isn’t it amazing that in certain siuations, at different moments that you know exactly how to speak to a student to calm them down or help them?

I know why this is because in Proverbs 2:1-11

Now I know that because we serve the Lord in our teaching that opposition may rise against us, but I want to encourage you with this scripture:

Titus 2:7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

We as teachers rely on Gods strength and wisdom and because we love the Lord we want to ,out of that overflow of love, do the best we can for him. That means teaching with excellence for the glory of his kingdom.

What do you do if you are feeling weary or overwhelmed? Jesus reminds us that in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Being a teacher is a privilege given to us by the Lord, and he provides us with authority, appoints the right students, gives us wisdom. He protects us from opposition and gives us rest. I hope that you are encouraged today knowing that you play an important part of God’s kingdom by being a teacher.

Afterward we had sometime to meet together and chat, I was so excited to discover that there was another art teach! We are still keeping in touch and I am so encouraged by her!

If your are led, here are some prayer points for the teachers in Sri Lanka:

  1. That cooperation among teachers would happen more
  2. Smaller class sizes
  3. For more Christian teachers
  4. Remove discouragement
  5. The right principals to be appointed

Stand with my fellow teachers across the world as they face each day and help them by praying that they would also stand firm in the truth of our Lord Jesus.

Stay tuned, next weeks update: The Murals and Preschool