A decade ago, when the school was just a small kindergarten class, we were told by some development workers in the area that we were wasting our time and that we could expect most of our students to drop out by grade six. It was sensible advice; many families in the communities we work in do not place a high value on education and will pull their children out of school when they are old enough to start contributing an income for the household.
I was thinking of those comments as I watched the thirteen students of our first ever grad class beat the odds as they crossed the stage and received their diplomas. I was reminded of the verse in Psalm 18:29, “With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall,” and I was in awe of this tangible example of the fact that when we work in the kingdom of God we get to dare for things beyond what seems sensible. It was a profoundly encouraging evening of stepping back and being floored all over again at what God is doing in this beautiful school perched on a Guatemalan hillside.
What God has done is bring together a family of supporters, prayer warriors, donors, teachers, and workers to create a place where these thirteen students were able to encounter the transforming love of the Father while receiving a valuable education. Over and over again we had the privilege of hearing these students express how thankful they were to their teachers and sponsors for getting them to a milestone that they would never have been able to achieve due to the economic circumstances of their families.
The evening was a real celebration in every sense of the word. Katrina and her aunt provided a beautiful violin and piano duet for the processional, the English department organized a rousing choir and dance presentation, Manuel our fourth grade teacher put together a moving drama, the visiting Canadian team formed a choir, the founders were on hand to honor each student with their own personally engraved Bible (lovingly donated by some incredible supporters), and everything wrapped up with loads of fireworks. Beyond all the festivities, though, what was most memorable for all of us there was the faithfulness of God in the lives of these students and the generosity of amazing people like yourselves that made this milestone possible.
“At my first school camp I not only experienced that exquisite presence of God, but I was also healed and my heart was restored. I want to study a Bachelor degree in science or in computers. At university I want to go to medical school and become a paediatrician and to provide medical assistance for children in poor communities.”
“Having this scholarship has helped me to develop my studies and to let the gifts of God flow, the ones I had hid for so much time. One of the testimonies I can share with you is how I learned to never give up, to do everything in the name of Jesus. My goal is to finish high school and look for a job and continue my studies in medical school so I can help people in need.”
“Global Shore has been a huge part of the change I have seen in my life throughout the years I have been studying here and this last year was the best year yet. I knew God in a very different way and stopped doing things that were not good for my life.”
“Ever since my first school camp I decided to be different, to be unique and to not do the same things that other boys my age did. I set this goal in my heart because God spoke to me and said: “Don’t do only what you are asked to do, but do even more than they ask to become a better person.” In the future I want God to be my guide, in everything I do, so if God calls me to do something for him I will be ready to do it.”
“I have decided to keep studying in the school because the school has already blessed me so much and has blessed my family. Thank you for the discipline and the truth. I am thankful for the teachers and directors who supported me throughout the years. I know that what I learned at school will help me my whole life. “
“Studying at the school has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I have shared with so many incredible people the love God has for me. He has never left me. It doesn’t matter what situation I am going through; God is my help and strength.”
“The school has meant so much for me; it has helped me to grow intellectually and spiritually. It is like my second home where I grow in my spiritual life and I share with my friends. The school has been a great opportunity for my parents and me. We have seen God’s great mercy for our lives.”
“God has given me a new opportunity where I have felt him so close that feeling him has made me change so many bad attitudes in my life and allowed God to turn them into joy. This has encouraged me to seek him more and to go to church and even become a part of a small group. I have only been in the school for three years, but every year I get to know a new part of the Lord.”
“I understand that God has a great plan for my life. God has blessed me through the school, because thanks to the help of supporters, my parents don’t need to pay a lot of money for me to go to school; it is a great blessing to come and study in the school. It has been a great honor to be a part of the school with excellent teachers because God uses them so we can learn.”
“I thank God for putting me in this school because I was literally saved! So many of my friends I went to school with before are now lost and doing wrong things. I hope my sponsors can be proud of me and happy to know that I am graduating and that they invested in someone who has accomplished his goal, but can still do a lot more.”
“This experience has helped me financially, spiritually and socially. It helped my family financially because my parents paid for a school before, but now they don’t need to pay for my education. It helped me socially because I have met people, friends, classmates that helped me develop. It helped me spiritually because God gave me so many precious experiences with Him in my life and He presented himself to me.”
“God knew I didn’t have any resources to be able to study, but I am able to complete my studies now thanks to Global Shore. God has shown me how important I am. He has also shown me that I am His son. He has given me a ministry to work with.”
“During the course of the years I have been in this school I have felt blessed. I came for the first time in grade three with a bad attitude. I was angry and irresponsible. As time passed and I started learning about God my life started to be transformed. The love of God has been planted in my heart and I started to have a relationship with God.”