Not Here Just to Teach

A missionary is serving God and neighbor in one unlikely mission field in the Middle East.

Adventist Mission
Not Here Just to Teach

My calling to the mission field was a little bit crazy!* I had a career in marketing and only a little experience in childhood education. Yet God led me from Brazil to work as a preschool teacher in one of the largest, most crowded ancient cities in the Arab world.

It started when I noticed a job posting on Facebook for an English-speaking person to work at a preschool in the Middle East. I had been wanting to do mission service, and although I’d never considered working in that part of the world, I began to get excited.

Once I arrived, it didn’t take me long to realize that I loved everything about the place. There’s always something interesting to see — structures that are thousands of years old, beautiful beaches, and some of the best museums in the world. Even the food is amazing!

We started the preschool with only three children, but as time went by, we grew and grew.

One day as I was leaving for an appointment, a woman stopped me on the street and asked in English, “Do you know if there’s a preschool around here?” I always needed a translator when I talked to the parents, so I was thrilled to hear her speak English.

“God has directed you to the right person!” I told her. I invited her to visit our preschool, and she eagerly accepted my invitation. Like many parents, she was pleased with what she saw and immediately enrolled her son. He proved to be such a blessing to us. And so did she. She encouraged me in my work and always gave me nice compliments.

We started each day at the preschool by asking the children, “Who’s happy today? Who loves preschool? Who loves God?” After a resounding “Me! Me!” we prayed together, inviting God to be with us throughout the day. We also shared stories that helped the children understand that God can listen to them and answer their prayers.

One thing I’ve found very interesting while serving at the preschool is that several people have told me I wasn’t there just to teach. Well, I didn’t think I’d come just to teach. I appreciated the opportunity to improve my English and social skills and learn how to help children grasp new concepts. But as time went on, I began to believe there was something to what these people were saying. God has opened opportunities for me to share His love in multiple ways outside the classroom. For example, I’ve met women who were in abusive relationships, and I was the only one in their lives who could offer help.

Unfortunately, after such a meaningful start to the school year, we had to shut down most of our operations due to the coronavirus. Our students had to stay home with their families to be safe. I hated being separated from them. I would call them on the phone to try to help them with their studies and assure them that I was still there to support them. As I heard their little voices saying how much they missed the preschool and me, it broke my heart. We began searching for online resources we could use so they could see us again and be connected with us. And it happened. The four-year-olds also had Zoom meetings!

Looking for an alternative way to teach them, we worked with other preschools to find easy-to-use online programs. While it was difficult for many teachers to record and edit videos, my marketing skills proved useful to me in using online platforms to teach. I developed new abilities as well and was very grateful for these experiences.

We opened the preschool, established an effective learning program, built relationships with the parents, and connected them with services to help them in times of need. I’m thankful to God for bringing me here to do more than just teach!

* Name and country withheld. The original version of this commentary was posted by Adventist Mission.

Adventist Mission