“You are the God of miracles and wonders! Your road led through the sea, Your pathway through the mighty waters—a pathway no one knew was there!” Psalms 77:14, 19 NLT
I sighed as I looked at my class roster. I recognized the name. John* had been my student before and I remembered him well. He had not been very motivated to learn and was now enrolled in a course where he would have to work hard to achieve the course objectives. I watched as the assignments in my Google Classroom were completed in a patchwork manner, one or two done, then several missed, then another one done. Here we go again, I thought.
Then I got the WhatsApp message. Hello teacher, we need prayer for my father please. John’s father had cancer and had just had a biopsy to determine whether the doctors should operate or whether he should have chemotherapy. I shared a Bible verse and replied, When we cannot see the future, we can know God will make a way for us.
Two weeks later John messaged me. We got the results of the tests that my father did and he has cancer in the colon and the chest. Two weeks after that, his father went into surgery.
That day, John sent me a picture of his father in the recovery room and replied to my first message. Teacher Maria, I understood this now, after seeing God’s hands in all the processes that my dad went through. He did the surgery on Sunday and thank God there’s no pain.
We managed to get through the semester and although John needed a little extra time to catch up on the assignments, he had a real reason for needing the extra time. He had been working two jobs to pay for school and taking care of his family as his father battled cancer. We worked together and John put in the effort to finish his course with a good grade.
As I reflected back on the semester, I realized that John wasn’t the one who had changed; I had. Yes, John had shown more maturity in his ability to complete the homework, but this was simply part of growing up as a university student. I, on the other hand, had learned how to look beyond the classroom and make a meaningful impact in a student’s life, regardless of whether they were motivated or not. Taking a moment to write an encouraging note to a student who had exasperated me deeply made a huge difference to him. He held on to that hope that God would make a way through a very dark time in his life and reminded me as he saw it realized more than a month later.
As we teach, let us always keep this thought before us. Our influence goes beyond the textbooks, beyond the quizzes, and beyond the lectures. Our influence is for eternity; let us make it a positive one.
*Not his real name