There’s a song that says “Lord, change the world, and let it start with me.” That’s right…it starts in us first. Not only is this my heart’s desire, but it’s also the cry of each Latin American missionary that comes through Corrientes, a mentoring & equipping program in Ecuador that prepares Latin Americans to be Christian leaders around the world, including right in their own country. As we surrender our hearts and our wills to what God is doing, He amazingly does a deep work in each of us and then sends us out to partner with Him as He does a deep work in others’ lives.
During my first year of teaching English at Corrientes, I had two middle-aged Ecuadorian women (Adriana and Natalia) who came to class together every day. They were both missionaries and pastor’s wives who wanted to improve their English so they could better work with international teams that came to work with them.
One day, I’d planned our conversation to center around the topic of education in Ecuador. It was a subject I knew little about and I thought it would be useful vocabulary for them to learn. We could talk about subjects studied, how the educational system is organized, what students & schools must each provide as far as materials, etc. It turned out that God had a whole different idea though, and He hijacked the conversation in order to accomplish HIS agenda for the day.
The conversation turned to how public school teachers treat and talk to their students in Ecuador. I was shocked to hear that throughout grade school, high school, and even university, there are many teachers who are rude and insulting to their students. Adriana and Natalia told me that it was common for teachers to declare to students “You’re stupid!”, “You’re ignorant!”, “You’re good for nothing!”, and “I can’t stand you!” In fact, some teachers have even been known to make these insulting remarks to parents about their children!
As they shared this information with me, the Holy Spirit suddenly reminded me that MY profession was teaching; before coming to the mission field I’d been an elementary teacher for many years. Now years later, God was prompting me to stand in the place of those Ecuadorian teachers who had done so much damage to Adriana and Natalia with their harsh words, so as a teacher, I asked my dear students to forgive me on behalf of those teachers who had spoken such insulting and devaluing words over them. As I asked them for forgiveness, tears streamed down their faces, sobs were released, and God ministered to those deep unhealed wounds in their hearts that they’d been carrying around all these years and hadn’t even realized they were still carrying. God knew though, and He had ordained that THIS specific day in English class would be the day that He would heal those wounded areas of their hearts.
It turned out to be a powerful time of God ministering healing to them, as we all prayed together and they forgave their former teachers for all the negative words they had spoken over them. God then led me to speak specific blessings over each woman…they ARE intelligent, they ARE gifted and skilled, their unique learning styles were created by God, they are not a mistake, etc.
We also spent some time praying together for Adriana’s and Natalia’s children who were still currently in school, praying that God would protect them from hurtful words spoken by teachers, that they would be able to show their teachers the love that they so clearly needed, and that their lives would be a testimony to their teachers rather than a burden.
What an amazing equipping class! This class period turned out totally different than I’d expected, but exactly the way God had intended. God’s timing for healing and freedom is perfect, and His “interruptions” make for the best classes! God’s heart is to bring all of us into wholeness, and I was blessed that He allowed me to partner with Him in releasing healing to Adriana and Natalia. I’m thankful for the Lord’s perfect agenda and timing, and for His great love that He pours out in these classes. Students come to me for English, but they leave with a whole lot more, as I partner with the Holy Spirit in equipping them. Thanks be to God for His mighty work!
(Names have been changed for privacy)
By: Sue Noroña, Serving in Ecuador