After being called to missions at a young age, Rachel enrolled as a student at the Institute for G.O.D. in it’s initial year (2004). She has since ministered in India and has worked as a beloved kindergarten teacher at the Academy for G.O.D. She is spending this year in India, serving administratively at Aquatic Primary School. Here, she shares about what the Lord has been teaching her along the way.
Q: What brought you to G.O.D.?
"I first met the band, Unnamed Servant, when they came to my church during my senior year. They put on a youth conference for several churches in our area, I also got to spend time after the conference with the band.
Gregg Garner’s Bible teachings just brought the Bible to life and I was beyond intrigued when he said, “Any question we have about life can be answered by the Bible.” I wanted to learn more.
When they showed a video about a summer internship program and said that it was an opportunity to experience what it's really like to be a missionary, I signed up right away!"
Q: What was your first trip to India like, and when did you felt called to return?
“My first trip to India was hard. The culture was more foreign to me than any other country I’d ever visited. It was so hot, the food was not what I expected, and I was hit hard with sickness. I was completely out of my comfort zone. It’s funny to me now, but it felt so hard that at one point I decided to do away with my aspirations of being a missionary!’
However, within just a few minutes of deciding that, I gave my testimony to a group of Indians . God spoke to me during that moment that I needed to return and give my life for these people. I had met so many kids that couldn't read. So, it was also on that trip I decided to choose teaching as my profession. There was a grave need and I knew I could help. I've never turned back since.
Q: How have you changed since that first trip until now?
I feel like I've changed completely! But a few objective ways are that I've completed the Institute’s Bachelor's degrees in both Biblical Studies and Community Development. Learning the Bible has been invaluable to my development as a teacher and a development worker. I’ve also been involved as a teacher at the Academy for G.O.D. since it began, teaching kindergarten and helping administratively. This opportunity to grow in capacity as a teacher and school administrator has shaped me into a great resource for the staff at APS now.
I couldn't do what I'm doing now at Aquatic Public School (APS) without my years at the Academy. My principal, Betsy Johnson, was the most faithful mentor I could have asked for and she taught me so much. I know how a school should be run and what can be expected of children, and I know I'm a genuine asset at APS.
Q: What are some of the ways you've been able to serve at APS?
Most of my current work is administrative, as that is the biggest need. APS is a relatively new school with 250 students. When they started, they were just surviving day by day, focused on handling classroom responsibilities. The staff uses very little technology; only a few teachers even own a cell phone, let alone a computer, so I have to figure out alternative ways to communicate with the staff.
I'm helping them back-track administratively and put in place all of the framework they'll need to continue successfully for many years ahead. I’ve created a system of accounting for them, and organized all of their student files and records. I also teach Music Theory and English reading to their oldest students.
q: What are Some of the biggest challenges that you've faced so far during your trip?
It’s hard to see how culture dictates certain ways of life that don’t seem fair, especially for girls, but then not be able to do much about it. Change comes slowly. For example, the school serves people in a local village, and local culture dictates that girls not leave the house except to go directly to school and come back.
APS has limited space, and we would love to host certain elective classes at our office building that is just one block away. The older boys are allowed to do this, but the girls are not allowed to come for classes that require more space and equipment. Because we want to offer the girls the same kinds of opportunities as the boys, we have to get creative in order to do that.Otherwise, operating in a different culture is just tough all around. It requires you to be very slow to speak and quick to listen.
Q: What were your objectives coming into this year long trip?
One of my primary objectives was to help at the school however was needed. I also wanted to help strengthen our ministry through my work at our base, serving the staff here and helping organize our ministerial efforts. A big prayer of mine was to develop good relationships with our employees and the APS staff. I am constantly reminded in Scripture and encouraged by team leadership that one of the most important objectives is relationship building, which helps all other objectives to go more smoothly. Finally, I hoped to teach the Bible as much as possible!
Praise the Lord, all of those things are happening!
Q: What are some of the things that the Lord has been teaching you during your trip?
So very much. I’m reminded daily of God’s great love for his children. He provides what we need and keeps us safe when we act in obedience to him. I’m learning to perspective take more and be even more sensitive to those around me.
A verse that has really meant alot to me comes from James, "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." (James 1:19) It has helped me through a lot of moments of cultural misunderstandings.
Q: What are your hopes for the rest of this year? How can people pray for you?
I hope to not just do quick fixes at APS but to make lasting change. I also hope to continue to deepen my relationships with those around me and to serve them well. Please pray for patience, both with these projects and with cultural differences. Pray that God will give me wisdom, as his plans are what will bring lasting change.