A few years ago the idea of writing the story of our ESL program at Southcliff Baptist Church came to me. At first I wasn't sure if the idea was God's or mine. I knew that if God hadn't initiated the idea, I didn't want to spend the long hours it would take for this endeavor, so I began to pray, asking God to let me know if it was His will or simply my idea to take on this project. For quite some time, I told no one, but as I prayed, the urge became stronger, and I began to sense that it was from God. As I shared with a few people what I was considering, none of them discouraged me.
During this time we had begun to have people from other churches who were interested in beginning their own ESL programs come to observe ours and ask how we had built such a large and well-organized program. This made me think there might be some interest in the story of our ESL. Then one night as I looked at the hundred plus adults filling our loft, I thought, "All of these individuals have unique stories to tell, some amazing, some painful, of how they got to America, hoping to build a new life here for themselves and their families. I would love to be able to tell some of their stories as well." At first I thought about writing a book, but how many people would buy a book telling the story of our ESL, and how would I get the money to publish it? So I began thinking in terms of a blog. More people might read our story online. Besides, I wouldn't have to have it completed by a certain deadline. It could become an on-going project that, like our ESL, could continue to grow. Assured that this undertaking originated with God, I began to interview individuals who were involved in our ESL during its early years. Getting started has been a slow process, partly because I have a tendency to procrastinate, especially when I have no deadline to meet, and partly because getting stories from others hasn't been easy. But God has kept nudging me to push on, reminding me that at 79 I have a limited number of years ahead. I am being forced to rely on God to get the stories from volunteers and students, especially those who no longer live in the U.S.
The saying that "History is His story" is particularly true of our ESL. God's hand is evident in its beginning, its growth, the numerous volunteers involved, and the changes made through the years.