Having worked with our Christian day school for more than twenty years, I was always concerned with the students that seemed to have real problems keeping up with the rest. Having experienced that frustration as a child, my heart went out to students with the same problem that were in my class. When I began to work as the school counselor, the teachers would send students to me that were having problems. Often it was obvious that the problems were related to learning difficulties of some kind. I did my best to help them, but that is not my specialty. I desperately wanted to do more.
In my own studies, I had only the briefest of introductions to learning disabilities. Trying to help these children made me realize that I needed help in this area. Our teachers were in the same position as they worked with the kids every single day. Four years ago I began praying that the Lord send us someone with special training in this field. For two years, I prayed and asked around. I contacted many people asking for help. It seemed that everyone was afraid of coming to Colombia to work with us.
Then three years ago I was preaching at a church in Southern Ohio. A visitor asked if I could preach at his church and I said I would and gave him a card. It never dawned on me he was in Ohio from Florida. I presumed he was from an area church and so I agreed to preach there. I was surprised when the invitation arrived from Orlando, Florida. But I had told them I would go and so I did not want to break that promise. We made the trip to Florida to preach and turned it into a mini-vacation by visiting Disney World. I mentioned the school while preaching and made reference to the fact that we took in and were successful with many students who had dropped out of or been expelled from public schools.
In the audience were Paul and Patty Odham. Paul works with Special Education and Transition in the Orange County School System. His masterâ€™s degree is in Special Education. With no knowledge of my prayers or search, but with the Holy Spirit working in his heart, he asked after the service if I needed someone to come down and help with Special Education training for our teachers. I nearly fell over. â€œOf courseâ€ I replied (nearly shouted) excitedly. And we began to make plans. He came down last year and helped us a lot. He was so excited about the work he volunteered to come back again this year.
We just finished our conference in Villavicencio. Paul taught and I translated for him. His lessons were specifically on dyslexia and included theory, diagnosis, and treatment. We worked from eight in the morning till nine thirty at night. We had a short break for lunch but there was not time for supper. We had more than seventy teachers present and the Ministry of Education sent people to observe. After it was over, the vice minister of education came to speak with me and she was ecstatic. She wanted to know if we would do it in conjunction with them next year for the entire school system; both public and private. We were thrilled as this would give us an even greater outreach.
We make every effort we are involved in evangelistic. This event was no exception. We preach Christ in all we do. These seminars are an opportunity to preach Christ as well as train teachers. As we teach about learning disabilities, we speak of our calling and our hope in Christ. We make it clear that we are all created in Godâ€™s image and we work to teach children and to share Christ with them. While we have nearly worked Paul to a state of total exhaustion, the conferences have been a great blessing. I praise the Lord for providing for this need and I thank the Winter Park Church in Orlando, Florida for sending him to us. As we do all things for the glory of God, doing a better job in teaching children with difficulties is one way we can lift a song of praise to our Father in heaven and also be sharing the Good News with all here on this earth.