The call came about two weeks ago from a large public school in the Suba section of Bogotá, where we have a church. This school of more than 3,000 students was having all sorts of problems with their kids and the teachers had no where to go for help. The person calling me was in charge of such issues and also did not know where to turn for help. Someone who had heard me speak at a different school recommended they call me, and so the phone rang late one afternoon. I spoke with this teacher about the nature of the problems and exactly what they were interested in me teaching them. After a few minutes, I felt comfortable with the topics they were concerned about and I agreed to speak at their conference.
This morning I was up early and headed off to the school. I arrived a bit early as I wanted to make sure I did not get lost and get there late. That section of town was originally an invasion where squatter simply set up huts one night and the next morning a whole section of town has sprung up in what was a pasture field the night before. But that means the streets tend to be a jumble of disorganization and that makes addresses very hard to find. But I arrived in good time and so had a conference with the principle and the director of discipline and behavioral problems who had initially called me. We discussed the problems in more detain and the topics they wanted me to discuss.
We then headed for the school’s conference room where they had gathered all of their teachers. The students were on their midterm break and so only a few were in the school building. But the teachers were all present for the required teacher’s workshop. I began by offering a short explanation of educational theory and possible reasons for the difficulties they were experiencing. Then I dealt with their specific concerns one by one and offered suggestions on how to proceed. After I had dealt with the issues in that manner, I opened up the conference for questions and answers so I could specifically deal with actual problems.
In all of these conferences I make frequent references to my Christian faith and I use the Bible as one of my authoritative sources I quote from. I make mention of our church in the neighborhood as well. These conferences are what I would call pre-evangelism. I use them to build a good image of the Bible and of the Christian churches here in Colombia. I make certain they know where to find the church and whom to contact. Obviously, since it is a public school, I could not hold an evangelistic campaign per se. But I can quote the Bible and present Christian faith as part of the solution in my understanding. At least up till this point, that has never been a problem here in Colombia. I would probably have more problems in the States if I were to try this.
After the conference was over, as is typical, there were twenty or thirty teachers waiting to chat directly with me. I took my time to speak with each one. All expressed their thanks and appreciation and invited me to come back again in the near future. After the teachers had all finished talking to me, the principal came up and chatted a minute to express her appreciation and to thank me for taking time to teach them. She ended by saying, “God sent you to us! With our problems He knew we needed help and so He sent you to us. Thank you very much.” I felt like I had been successful in what I had come to do. It had been a long day and I headed back to the apartment tired and ready to relax a bit. But I was content, feeling that I had been used by God to plant some valuable seeds and to open many doors for the Gospel.