Ministry begins with relationships. That is how the public school ministry in Antigua, Guatemala started. In January 2014, Potter’s Field Ministries (PFM) hosted a medical outreach in Antigua. Many people came, were seen by the doctors, and were ministered to by all of the volunteers. One of the locals who came just so happened to be the director of 150+ schools in Antigua. They told us they had just lost their funding for English in the public school system. This was detrimental, because English provides opportunities for children to have a brighter future. We only had one question, “Can we use the Bible as the curriculum?” The response, “We don’t mind what you use!” Building a relationship with the board of directors led to PFM teaching ESL (English as Second Language) in one public school. But that soon grew.
The following is written by Quincey McCook, IGNITE alumni and current IGNITE 2.0/staff serving with us in Guatemala.
I was an intern in IGNITE Class 6 and was stationed in Guatemala for my six months of field time. My team and I began going to one school every Friday. To be honest, I was scared to death. I thought, “I’m not a teacher! I can’t speak Spanish! What am I doing?” But in the back of my mind, I knew that every Friday was a gift from God. It was an opportunity to reach these kids and to show them God’s love. About two months into my field time, my team was pulled into a meeting and were told we were going to be teaching in three more schools! My heart dropped. How am I supposed to do this? This is too much for me! God spoke to me, “You are not going to do it. I am. Rely on me and my strength.”
It was a little scary going into those three new schools for the first week. I will never forget when we went to the biggest school of the week with around 500 kids. We were all going to take on five classes of our own in just one morning. We arrived at the school and my leader said, “Well, who is taking the first class?” Somehow I volunteered to do it. It was a first grade class of about 30 six-year-olds, and when they saw me through the window they started cheering. “Ingles!!!!!” they all yelled, and whether I was ready or not, I realized I was the teacher!
God grew me so much in that time. He used my team to reach over 1,000 kids a week. It was insane! Such a huge blessing. When my field time came to an end I said goodbye to my students, not knowing if I would ever see them again. I knew that they would continue to have English class when school started up again. Their school year is from January to October. The ministry reminds me that no one is irreplaceable, and I knew that the IGNITE Class 7 interns would take over when the school year started again.
God still had so much to do in the schools! I was praying with all of my students before class started and teaching memory verses every quarter, but God was still laying it on my heart to do even more. How else could the ministry get His word in these public schools? As God was tugging at my heart, the doors opened up for me to come back and be a part of the ministry again! After my IGNITE time ended, I returned to Guatemala in January of 2015 to continue serving with PFM. My role was to help the interns who were taking over the old schools and to begin teaching in three new schools with my teammate Lydia who also returned post-IGNITE. We were in charge of writing the curriculum, and we added a Bible lesson in with every English lesson! So, there were four interns from IGNITE Class 7 teaching our old students, and Lydia and I started in three new schools with 800+ new students.
After another year of teaching, God again opened up the doors for me to come back. I returned at the end of December 2015 to start up again with the schools in January 2016.
It has been two years since we started teaching in the schools. In the beginning it was just an open door that we all walked through by faith; we didn’t know what we were doing, none of us were teachers, and some of us barely spoke the language, but none of that mattered. We had no idea what God was going to do when we stepped into the school for the first time.
Now, two years later, we have a bus ministry and we go to all the schools and bring hundreds of kids to Potter’s Field Kids club where they are shown the love of Christ, are given a free meal, and most importantly hear the Word of God. We are currently in seven different public schools teaching 1,900 kids each week. The board of directors offered us 100 schools if we only had the hands and feet. The Lord is giving us so many opportunities to reach these lost children. Every day we teach, the Lord gives us the words to share the Bible lessons. He gives us opportunities to pray for the students. We have been able to meet their parents and build their trust. We have seen kids from the schools start to attend church and have a relationship with the Living God.
In all this, a verse keeps coming to mind:
“Now to him who by his power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine—to him be glory in the Church through Jesus Christ for ever and ever, amen!”
God always goes above and beyond what we could ever think up. We know the Lord is going to use the ministry in the schools beyond what we could ever imagine. To Him be the glory!
’Til the Whole World Hears!