By Chara Benson (Outreach Worker at Victoria Village)
About a month into our program, I was discouraged because I didn’t know how to help these girls pass the challenging GED exam with their inconsistent attendance. It certainly didn’t help that there were rumors of girls talking poorly about one another.
One day when a student refused to work with another, there was an outburst of swearing and anger. I knew I had to address the whole class so I prayed for the Holy Spirit to give me the words to speak. We were in the middle of learning about World History so I asked them: What do you think causes wars?” They came up with words like: differences, miscommunications, rivalries, power, hatred, anger…I helped them realize how miscommunications and differences had been affecting our entire class. I pointed out how God has made each one of them so unique: some quieter, others louder, some jokesters, others artsy. Those differences are beautiful, however, they can also get in the way of having good relationships. I shared how growing up I would get easily frustrated with family and the Bible verse that helped me was: “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”
We proceeded to make a list of the type of environment they’d like to learn in. They said things like: “I need silence; I Just want to be respected; I don’t want to feel judged…” after that talk I began to see the classroom dynamics do a 180 degree change. The Middle Eastern ladies became friends with the Caribbean student. Girls started to invite each other over to study. One of the few Christian students bought a Bible for another girl. For potlucks, the girls lingered and talked with each other longer. During our optional Bible studies, girls started to encourage each other and realize they had similar struggles.
Through the initial tears and frustrations at the enemy who was trying to plant discouragement, I can definitely say now that clearly God was at work.