This Teacher’s Day, three teachers who serve in ministry at City Harvest Church, tell City News about their calling and carrying the heart of God when they teach.
SANDRA JOY: SHAPING THE VALUES OF THE YOUNG
Proverbs 22:6 (TPT) reads, “Dedicate your children to God and point them in the way that they should go, and the values they’ve learned from you will be with them for life.”
A teacher doesn’t just impart head knowledge, he or she also nurtures the heart of a student. That is why Sandra Joy, 26 a pre-school teacher keeps this verse close to her heart.
“I try to love every child that is placed under my care, although they are not my own flesh and blood,” she says. “To the best of my ability, I’ll teach them how to love others, to be generous by sharing, and to speak life into others with words of kindness. My calling is to educate and direct, which is how I communicate with, nurture, and love my students.”
Besides teaching the preschoolers their ABCs and 123s, Sandra also has to help them learn routines, attain self-help skills, and resolve conflicts among themselves.
“In school, I try to use positive reinforcements and model good behavior for children to follow. Not all children are at the same level of ability, so if a child is not able to understand a concept, say, why he should tidying after himself or completing a task like drinking water, I would encourage another child who understands the concept to teach their friend, instead of picking on them,” she explains.
“Recently a child was taking a long time to finish his water and another child asked if he could help. He proceeded to hold his friend’s bottle for him and say, ‘Just a little bit more, you can do it.’ Such moments are so heartwarming to witness.”
Sandra, who is also a cell group leader in City Harvest Church, finds that the values that she teaches her members are also applicable to teaching her students.
“In our cell group, we teach members the Kingdom values, attitudes, living out ECEM (the core values of CHC: encounter God, cultivate purpose, experience family, make a difference), to love God fervently and love people wholeheartedly. Likewise, in the setting of school, we teach and reinforce good values,” she said.
“Children and teenagers are at the most ‘moldable’ age,” she notes. “We don’t control their lives but we can inculcate good values and principles that shape their thinking, and we can give them a safe space where they can explore possibilities.”
Having said that, Sandra also acknowledges that some days are better than others. “Some days the children drive us up the wall! But I make it a point to reflect and pray on the day every night before I sleep to ensure that my heart is right, and that I remember why I’m here in the first place,” she shares.
“I always hold on to something Pastor Bobby (Chaw, School of Theology’s Dean) taught us in Bible school: a bondservant, a doulos, is faithful and committed to his master. In this case, my master is the Lord, in my serving and my work, and as long as the Lord speaks, I go. On days that are rough, I remind myself that I’m a doulos to the Lord and because He brought me here, He will provide and protect.”
TERENCE KOH: TEACHING KINGDOM VALUES TO YOUTH
Terence Koh, 37, a private tutor, and adjunct secondary school teacher, received a word from the Lord that propelled him into the world of education. He was an engineer by training but after coming to Christ, Terence heard the call of God to become a school teacher.
He started serving in CHC children’s ministry, Harvest Kidz, and that became his training ground for engaging with children. “As a Harvest Kidz teacher, and also a school teacher, I would help themin their studies. A verse I always remember is Matthew 6:33: ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’. I have always trusted the Lord for my career, so I would also assure the children that God will open up a way for them, to help them.”
In the same way, Terence would also use bring the values that he learned in church to teach his students that he tutors. “I don’t preach to them, but I’ll teach them values to help them to relate to their problems in school, or to understand the world and their culture. It’s not always easy because they come from different backgrounds, but I try my best to connect to them.”
If the children are open to the gospel, Terence would reach out to them and tell them about Jesus. In past years, when there are special days like Easter, Christmas, or Children’s Day, he would invite them to church.
SEE TOH WAI YIN: BUILDING CHARACTER ABOVE GRADES
See Toh Wai Yin, 34, is a secondary school teacher who loves her students because she understands the love of God. “Every student is unique, and any tantrum they throw boils down to a struggle at home or with their surroundings,” she explains.
“But God loves each and every one of us despite our flaws and He understands the struggles we all go through. This is God’s heart: to love people without judgment. Some students become discipline cases more often than others, and as humans, we tend to judge them and become frustrated with them, saying things like, ‘Why can’t this student just behave and learn?’ But understanding the heart of God brings me to ask myself what Jesus would do. Jesus would care for this student, instead of judging him and jumping to conclusions about him. So I try to dig deeper into the situation to understand why my students react like this. Very often I discover that they lack love and security at home.”
Wai Yin gave an example of a student who kept acting up and could not focus in class. “God prompted me to find out more about his family and to get to know him better as a person. The Lord also taught me to accept that He created all of us differently and that each person is unique. So I encouraged this student as best as I could, and gave him the space to grow into the unique person God has made him to be,” she said.
“I’m still a work in progress, but I am learning to exhibit this in my encounters with students, and also in leading my cell group, to demonstrate as best as I can the fruit of the Spirit.”
Wai Yin is also a youth cell group leader and she finds many similarities in the values she teaches her students and her cell group members. “As teachers, we do character education too. A child’s character weighs much more than the academic results he or she gets. Many values in the church are similar to what we teach in school, and many values that we impart to the students, I also bring into my cell group. Things like having integrity even when no one is watching is an important value that youths need to uphold, be it in school or in church.”
As a leader both in school and church, Wai Yin candidly shares that she sometimes wishes her students and members would mature quickly. “They are at an age where they are searching for their identity. As much as I hope they can mature quickly, find their purpose in the Kingdom and stop doing silly things, the word from God to me is to ‘be still and know that I am God‘. He is always in control of every situation. The kids will grow up and mature. We just need to know that He is God and we are not.”