Ouch. I held the letter in my hands, still feeling the sting of the words I’d just read on the page.
“This doesn’t make sense. I graduated with a 3.8 grade point average! My teachers have always praised me for being a good student. How could I not get accepted?” I sat on the couch with my husband, absolutely bewildered.
We’d only been married for a year, and I already began to feel restless. My college years had taken me on such incredible adventures that I couldn’t imagine settling down yet. A semester abroad in Argentina awakened a hunger to experience the world, while a summer in Mexico as an intern missionary only deepened my passion for international missions. My degree in Christian Ministries felt incomplete, so we decided to look into opportunities for me to pursue a Master’s degree in the English as a Second Language (ESL) field. A perfect complement to my first degree, one I felt would increase my usefulness on the mission field.
After visiting a school in Minnesota, I drove away in tears. The school already accepted me, but I felt no peace as I stood on the campus. I just couldn’t see a future in such a cold state. Later we found a school closer to home in Indiana. I could envision myself in all of the classrooms and labs, and I connected very easily with the advisor. I eagerly filled out the application, and we let our friends and family know that we’d be moving that summer so I could attend grad school.
Now I had to go back to everyone and tell them we wouldn’t be moving after all. I didn’t even get accepted. Despite my GPA in college, my GRE score (a test you have to take in order to pursue a master’s degree) automatically disqualified me from their program.
It’s exceptionally hard for a twenty-three year old to swallow her pride. I had no choice. I asked God to show me what He wanted me to do if I wasn’t supposed to pursue higher education.
“Bible School.” He may not have said it audibly, but I heard it clearly.
“What?” The thought of volunteering to help with Vacation Bible School at church that summer had never even occurred to me.
Why not? I didn’t have anything else to do, and I felt robbed of my newest sense of adventure. So I signed up as a volunteer.
“Invite your kids.” Another nearly audible voice from Heaven boomed loudly in my ear.
“Really? Is that even legal?” We lived in a small town, and I assumed an hourly position working in several schools with kids in the ESL program. I didn’t have any certification to allow me to teach, but my minor in Spanish opened the door for me to work in the school system with bilingual children. God had already used that job in multiple ways to get me involved in the lives of many of the Hispanic families around town, and now I knew I had to personally invite every last child to Vacation Bible School.
Only a week later, we’d driven to every single home to invite each child that I worked with. All but one family said yes, embracing the opportunity to send their kids to something worthwhile in the summertime. Another week after that, I rode in the front seat of the church van as we drove to pick up all nineteen children.
By the end of the week, I realized how much God had stretched and broken my heart. When two of the older kids in my van accepted Christ into their lives during the final worship time, I could barely hold back the tears.
“Thank you, Father. Thank you for closing the door I wanted to go through. Thank you for not letting me miss this.” What a humbling experience. God had bigger plans in mind for me that didn’t require another degree. They just required a listening ear and an obedient heart.
That week led into three years of an intensely beautiful ministry with those kids and all of their families. One week of Vacation Bible School opened the door for them to come to a Five-day Club and also weekly involvement in an AWANA program at another local church. A few of them even came to church with me regularly on Sunday mornings, and two of them attended Bible camp. Five kids from the same family prayed to receive Christ as their Savior.
When I gave birth to my son a year and a half later, I quit my job at the elementary schools, but my involvement in the kids’ lives didn’t stop. In fact, their parents asked me to teach them English, and they invited our family to many of their special occasions and celebrations in their homes. I never could have imagined what God would do through my obediently inviting those kids to Bible School.
My husband lost his job a little over a year after our son’s birth, leaving us near penniless. After struggling for several months, God rescued us from our hopelessness by moving us almost two thousand miles away to Texas.
I came to Texas to assume a new job as an ESL/Bilingual Teacher, a job that my sister-in-law found for me on the internet and took the initiative to even arrange a phone interview for me. Though I didn’t have a degree in education, the school agreed to hire me with the assumption that I would attend an alternative certification program. Since the district needed more bilingual teachers, they paid for my entire certification. Now I finally have that ESL/Bilingual certification I wanted to pursue in grad school, but I didn’t have to pay a single penny for it.
God, in His sovereignty, always knew the plans He had for me, and He brought them to pass in His own perfect timing.
My Sovereign God. He’s worth trusting.
Connect With Rachelle
Follow me on my blog: www.fromtheheartofrachelled.blogspot.com
Read our adoption story, in pieces, on my book blog: www.unexpectedtearsbook.blogspot.com
Or purchase my book, Unexpected Tears, on Amazon:
(The sequel, Painful Waiting, is still in production.)