Our mission is to transform Guatemala through Christ-centred education, but this mission is only possible if we have quality teachers. Without staff who believe in our vision, we can’t influence our students. Alex Calí is one of our staff members who lives out this vision, transforming student lives at our school. But when Alex first came to our high school as a student in Grade 10, he was in a very different place.
"I didn’t know what to do with my life. I didn’t study, and I didn’t have any hope that I would go back to school, either."
THE LIFE OF THE PARTY
“When Alex first walked into the office for his interview, our first reaction was: ‘This is going to be a great story.’” Julianna Konrad de Pelaez, our Executive Director in Guatemala, remembers when Alex came to our school. “He had dropped out of his other school after middle school and worked for a year. You could tell he needed Christ, and that he wanted to go deeper, but the adjustment was really hard for him.”
Alex remembered lots of highs and lots of lows from middle school. “As soon as I got there, all my friends would come over to me, because I was the life of the party… but there wasn’t a day that I wasn’t in the principal’s office. I failed lots of classes and moved schools a lot.”
“Before I came to CCAF, I stopped studying for a full year. I didn’t know what to do with my life. I didn’t study, and I didn’t have any hope that I would go back to school, either.”
But after his interview, Alex joined the brand-new high school program in January 2016. “My first day was a radical experience. I saw all those kids running to get to class and I had the same feeling. I wanted to run in too.”
Alex knew that he had a second chance at CCAF, but it wasn’t easy. “I was always in the office here, too,” Alex remembered. He missed handing in homework, or got in trouble with the teacher, repeating what had happened in middle school. But Alex managed to finish high school, and soon afterwards, the seeds that were planted in his heart started to grow.
A RADICAL TRANSFORMATION
“Shortly after graduation, Alex got married,” Julianna remembers. “Something happened at his wedding. He sat there, weeping, and we knew that the Lord was doing something. Something shifted in him.”
It was when Alex’s bride walked into their wedding ceremony that something powerful happened. “That moment is etched into my memory,” Alex told us. “The sun lit her up and I thought: ‘Am I really here? Or is this a dream?’ Tears started to flow and I didn’t know if I should kneel, give thanks to God, or ask forgiveness for everything I’d ever done. It was a blessing so undeserved that I knew that God is good. That day I was sure of the love that He has for me.”
Alex experienced a transformation that day, and the change was evident in his life — such that when our ministry was looking for a PE teacher the next year, it was obvious who they should hire.
“We saw him doing all these things,” Julianna said. “He was working with kids in his community, and he wanted them to know Christ. That was it. He had what we wanted our staff to have. And we knew that he was going to engage his students because he’d been a student here. He’d walked that path. He’d succeeded here and had lots of difficulties here, and he knows what it’s like to come out on the other side.”
Alex was nervous about returning to his school as a teacher. How should he address his former teachers? Would the students respect him? Would they listen? Quickly, he found his fears unfounded.
“He was working with kids in his community, and he wanted them to know Christ. That was it. He had what we wanted our staff to have."
A PERSON OF INFLUENCE
“I had been here two weeks and the kids would throw themselves at me, hugging me,” Alex said. “The middle school students respected me too, calling me ‘Teacher.’ It was something really special: the affection, this sensation…. You can’t explain it, but it’s the best thing you can feel.”
Not only did Alex win the affection of his students, but with support in his first year, he quickly became a skilled teacher in the vision of our school. “One of my favourite things to do is walk out to the soccer field and see him sitting with his class,” Julianna shared. “He sits them down and speaks to them about the Lord before they start class. He really takes that time to pour into their lives with whatever it is that the Lord puts on his heart.”
“He knows what they’re going through, and he’s right on board with the vision. He’s pouring into students’ lives the way he was poured into.”
“Being able to gain their confidence, to be able to help them so they could get out of a bad situation… that’s my purpose here.”
Alex went from the student being sent to the office to the teacher students can confide in. The work that God did in Alex’s life is the same work he’s doing in students’ lives every day at our school — and that’s what we believe is going to transform Guatemala.