– Cheng Geok L

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Roman 15:13)

Xiao Juzi joined our kindie class just before turning four. She spent her first lesson exploring the classroom, climbing on chairs, crawling under the table, dancing in front of the LCD projector; all with me in her wake trying to teach the lesson. When I said “Stand,” she’d sit; when I said “Sit,” she’d stand; when I said “Quiet,” she’d laugh out loud. . . With prayer, internet, trial and error, patience and love, Xiao Juzi and I now have a loving respect for each other. She sits in place (most of the time), participates (if she thinks I’m not looking), and generally behaves. Her mum has expressed how much she appreciates that we have boundaries in our class.

Running a learning centre has been the most challenging thing I’ve ever been led to do. After starting operations, it was an almost daily emotional roller coaster ride. I’ve wondered: Is this really God’s will? Why has he allowed such painful, difficult challenges? What difference can a learning centre make in his Kingdom?

Not a numbers person, I also asked myself practical questions. How am I going to run a business and develop curriculum as well as teach? How do we price and market services? How can I manage schedules and communicate with parents? How do I lead a team when I don’t know what I’m doing?

My experience is in teaching university English, whereas our centre’s students are age 4 to 17. Reading up about the different stages of cognitive and emotional development takes time; so does developing curriculum for and teaching seven different levels each week.

But thank God for the internet. Some of my recent searches: “How to handle oppositional 4 year olds?” “Classroom management ideas for 4/7/10 year olds” “How to motivate teens?” “Fun flashcard activities”. Who knew watching “Super Nanny” and “Dog Whisperer” would pay off?

As the fog of doubt and fear clears, and hope abounds, it’s the children and families that God has brought to the centre that give joy. When we focus equally on developing the children’s English skills, their behaviour and character, doors open to building relationships with their parents.

Another joy is the small team that God has brought together. Both Annie L and Daniel B (a one-year intern) have been an invaluable support and contributed in many different ways to bless the children and their families. We’re learning to work and grow together in him.

Despite the challenges, it’s our hope in the risen Lord that abounds. The same power that raised him from the dead is working through his Spirit in us to accomplish his will. Is it his will that the centre grows and flourishes? He holds that answer. What I do know is that it is his will for us to follow obediently and be transformed into his likeness.