I have just completed my first year of ESL teaching at Southcliff Baptist Church. Wow! Every week seemed to get better as students were eager to learn English, the Word of God was shared, and needs of students were valued and met. The organization of this ministry was impressive especially seeing people of all ages volunteering in every capacity imaginable. One volunteer even found a Band-aid for me when I hit my elbow on the chalk rail! Every detail was planned and worked like clockwork. I applaud everyone who has been working in this program.
This opportunity to teach came at a time when I had just retired from teaching 47 years in public education and also when my mom passed away at the age of 96 in June of 2018. For about 16 years, my husband and I had been taking care of elderly parents. My mom was the last of our four parents. So, I was suddenly left with a huge block of time on my hands. Not only that, but I was wondering how to come down mentally from teaching five developmental reading/writing classes at Tarrant County College-Southeast Campus where I had been for the last 14 years serving around 125 students each semester to an empty slate for retirement. I had always believed that teaching reading was my ministry, then God added the responsibilities of care-giving beginning with my mother-in-law who moved in with us for four years with Alzheimer’s dementia, then my dad who had a series of strokes, and lastly, my mom who needed assistance for her widowed years and eventually skilled nursing care. It was actually when I was taking my mom to her church at Southcliff after my dad died that I first heard of the ESL program. When all these responsibilities ended at retirement, it was the perfect time to use my gifts somewhere else. I am now delivering Meals on Wheels, teaching ESL, and holding a small group Bible study in our home on Wednesday evenings.
I was also delighted to see how salvation through trusting in Jesus was presented in the fellowship time of the ESL ministry. God called me as an eight-year-old child to confess my sins and trust in Jesus, but I began more fully to know Jesus as my Savior and Lord at the age of 23 when my grandfather died. It was the first time in my life I had known anyone who had died. My grandfather’s death caused me to really wake up to the fact that one day I would die, too. For a while, I was questioning my beliefs and was frightened by the enormity of the universe. Having been raised in a Christian home, Jesus had always been a part of my life. It was only when I went to my pastor with my questions that I learned the true value of Jesus’ death on the cross for my sins. He read to me the Old Testament story in Exodus 12 of the last plague God sent to Egypt in which the death angel would pass over and kill the firstborn of every household except those that had the mark on the doorpost of the blood of the lamb. This was the scripture God used to open my eyes to understand Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world by His shed blood. Not only did He die for sinners, but he also was raised on the third day and lives today at the right hand of God making intercession for us. By trusting in the shed blood of Jesus, I know I will have everlasting life in heaven with Jesus when I die from this earth, and all fear of death is gone.
Today, I share the joy of life with my husband Frank of 58 years of marriage, our three children and their families including nine grand-children, and all the friends I meet in the ministries God is making available for me in my retirement. I hope to serve in the Southcliff ESL program for many years.
|Darla Teaching Her Level 3 Class||Fellow Educators|