In 2008, with a backpack, my guitar and $50 in my pocket, I boarded a plane to Nashville. My parents had faith enough to recognize the Lord calling me and trusted him to take care of me as I moved over 7,000 miles away. After spending several weeks on a Summer Internship with G.O.D. Int’l, witnessing extreme poverty, injustice, and despair, I was hungry for the word of God. I didn’t know how the Lord was going to do it, and I didn’t feel like I had much to give, but I was more than willing to join Jesus in his mission to take care of the least of these. I was unsatisfied with the options that life had offered me, namely, sports, military service, music, or an education that would leave me indebted for a number of years. However, I knew the LORD wanted to work with me and I was willing to do whatever it would take to learn his word and to know him more. This is why I moved to Nashville to join G.O.D. Int’l in their work.
Joining this organization has meant becoming a diligent student. Becoming educated in God’s Word and learning about myself has not been the easiest journey. Learning how to be of benefit to others is humbling because sometimes you recognize the deficiencies life has dealt you, and the reality that you must overcome them before being of service to others. I realized my low reading comprehension and constant writer's block were because my literacy skills were far below what they should have been at a college level. The education I had received prior had not taught me critical thinking skills that would aid me in evaluating and recognizing the layers within texts that I was reading, and this seemed debilitating as I started out in my biblical education.
Now, 4 years later, I am actually helping others develop critical literacy skills! I didn’t think that this could be done, but God is good, and does great work in those who are obedient and willing to learn. Since being at the Institute for G.O.D. Int’l, I have been able to take classes that will prepare me for teaching literacy to poor and illiterate peoples in the Philippines. I have also worked locally with several individuals on their personal reading and writing skills. Being able to read and write is something that makes my heart beat, and I am thankful for every opportunity I have to help others with these skills.
My journey continues. I want to continue to become a person competent enough to help others develop the critical literacy skills necessary to begin to tell their own stories, giving them an identity and a history, and enabling them to contribute towards the transformation of their world with their words. I have been empowered. As I continue to receive and grow, I know that I can be a person who has more to offer the world than what money can buy: me!
By Leafa Vagatai