Monday, August 30, 2010

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

On Friday Gil got word that baby turtles were hatching. Which happens to be one of his favorite things to photograph. So he spread the word around, and by the end of the school day, we had about 25 people caravanning out with us on the two hour drive out of town!

So of course, he got some great pictures. As you can see.

But that’s not really what I wanted to write about.

At dinner that evening, I sat across from one of our new staff members, who has been in the country all of two weeks. All the usual “get to know you” questions ensued, when we came to a common one, “How did God lead you here?”

I love these stories. And I especially loved this one.

This man and his wife have lived their entire lives (maybe about 50 years?) in their home country as good citizens, involved Christians, excellent teachers and school administrators. Then, a couple years ago, they were at a big revival type conference and God separately got a hold of each of their lives. “God wanted all of me,” he said. It changed their lives.

Not long after that, his wife saw a small magazine ad which was recruiting for HOPAC. She brought it to her husband, and they sent an inquiry to the school, not really thinking anything would come from it. The school immediately said they were interested, and invited them to apply.

So they applied, again thinking nothing would come from it. Then they were invited to visit the school last February. Both felt the call of God on their lives to serve at HOPAC, but at the same time realizing for the first time that this was not a paid position—they would have to raise support.

Their call from God was strong. But both understood the huge implications on their lives and those around them. Both had very successful careers—and they knew they would be giving that all up. They told their three adult daughters (the youngest who is 18), that if they did this, they would have nothing to contribute to the girls’ weddings one day. And helping the youngest with university would be tough, especially since her financial aid was based on their previous salary.

The girls said they should go anyway.

Their small church had never before sent out missionaries. This couple was very involved and would leave a lot of holes. It would be a stretch of faith for the entire congregation.

Despite it all, they said yes—to God and to HOPAC. And now they are here. Still not knowing where all their support will come from, still not having a renter for their house, still not knowing exactly how they will adjust after spending their entire lives in one place.

I love all the stories, but that one made me cry.

What faith! What obedience! And these are the people we get to work with! These are the people who will be leading us—propelling our school into the next era. What a blessing, what a privilege for us to be a part of such an amazing team of people—each with their different story of how God brought them to this place.

Some international missionary schools have started paying their teachers a salary (by making students’ tuition quite significantly higher). HOPAC has played around with that idea since every year we have such a hard time recruiting. But that’s one thing about HOPAC that I hope never changes, and not only because it would make it much harder for missionaries and pastors to send their kids here. Having to raise support is probably one of the hardest things a person has to do. But what it means is that the entire staff is tangibly living by faith to be here. And it means that every year the existing staff has to live by faith that God will provide for our staff needs.

I know that you certainly don’t have to work overseas to work with such extraordinary people. But I feel blessed every day that I can call them my friends.

Haven of Peace Academy Teachers and Staff, 2010-2011
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