It has been several years since the idea of a community center popped into the mind and spirit of our co-worker, Scott Yingling. That idea has gone through a rigorous planting, watering and fertilizing process. At times we thought the idea was probably dead. Funds were lacking. Deals to purchase land kept falling through. Promises and pledges at times weren’t kept. But…the idea never did die.
Of course, looking at it now, it’s clear the idea is still alive and growing.
As you know, I’ve been helping with the beginning of an ESL program that we expect to lead to many opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus Christ here in the city of nearly 500,000. However, the seeds that formed the idea for this project have likewise been subjected to a rigorous process of development.
Finding a suitable curriculum has been a challenge. I’ve driven to Querétaro numerous times often to come up empty-handed or with doubtful promises that the materials would ever arrive. By the time they did arrive, the prices would be higher than when I ordered them! In other cases, the orders never were fulfilled as promised and we’ve had to work without them.
A dozen members of the church expressed a strong interest in attending the classes for these first two courses with room for a total of only 20 students. We hoped we wouldn’t be turning away folks from the community due to the large demand from the church. 2,000 invitations went out to announce the beginnings of this new ESL program at about 1/4th the going price at local English language institutes.
The climax of this dilemma came to an abrupt and rather hollow THUD when our first week produced 2 students…both from the church. What a disappointment but not a hopeless situation. Sometimes seeds germinate slowly and certainly only in the timetable God has for them.
We’re near the end of our 2nd week for these two course. The beginners class time changed so that another church member could join the class to match her schedule. That class has two of our older youth (20-ish) and are both very much interested in serving God with their lives. The intermediates class also added another student as a teenage church member joined his dad in attending the classes.
Yesterday, I drove across town in order to teach my weekly session with the intermediate class. I was running a little late and thought I’d try a route that is a bit roundabout but on faster roads. I don’t think I have ever taken this route to go directly to the community center before.
As I sat a traffic light that I would normally never travel by on my route to the center, down the sidewalk came Mario! Mario was a man who showed up at our one week of free ESL classes last June given by our interns and Kendra Cervantes. That particular week he was one of the very few (perhaps the only one) who came every single day. He was very serious about learning English and wanted to know exactly when we’d be offering courses this fall. He even showed up at the next Sunday service to check it out. I hadn’t seen him since. We didn’t have his phone number and had no way to contact him.
But, there at that traffic light yesterday…he walked right past my car. I spoke to him for just a few seconds through the passenger side window and told him that classes were now in session. He showed up outside the classroom 90 minutes later wanting to know more. After a discussion with John B. (our main ESL teacher), Mario said he was anxious to join our intermediate class ASAP. He’s having some financial difficulties but we found a way to cut his cost even more than norma,l and for about $20, he’ll be able to join us this month. We even told him he could pay next week when he thought he’d have the money for the course.
I am so excited that God provided this “divine appointment” on the street with Mario. He doesn’t know Christ as his Savior yet, but there have been some seeds planted already and we’re ready to plant some more in his life. Pray for Mario that he’ll understand his need to be saved by the grace of God through faith. We’ve seen some seeds of ideas growing lately with the community center…may God give life to these eternal seeds in the heart of Mario too!