It never ceases to amaze me how God brings the right people to the right place at the right time—every time!
Have you ever had a distinct need and you just couldn’t imagine how God would meet that need? During this journey of faith, I have witnessed God call and equip people to make astonishing contributions, sometimes when and where we least expect it. Erin Parks is a leading example of this type of very unique answer to prayer.
Erin’s husband, Colton, is completing a one-year fellowship at one of our favorite partner ministries, HOPE International. When they relocated to Rwanda, Erin immediately began to ask God how she could use the gifts, calling, experience and passion that God had given her to serve in their new neighborhood. First, she began volunteering at a ministry that serves street children in Kabuga, a city just down the road from our village. Then, Erin reached out to Hope Haven and asked if we could use some volunteer help. Could we use some help? From a veteran, former inner-city, cross-culturally experienced teacher? Are you kidding me?
Under the guidance of Susan Hollern and Liz Ingabire, Hope Haven had literally been working for years on developing standardized workbooks for each student to incorporate into every class they take. The first challenge was developing the content of the workbooks. Our goal was to integrate new concepts, images, tables and charts, from sources similar to McGraw-Hill Curriculum, with existing Rwanda National Curriculum.
Secondly, we needed to develop these workbooks from scratch. We needed our teachers to take a blank page of paper and to build workbooks step-by-step. All of this was to be accomplished while they were maintaining their usual teaching load and effectively managing their classrooms.
Finally, the teachers needed to format and produce these workbooks in a way that would promote learning and deliver a professional product which could be adapted and used for many years to come. They needed to meet the high standards that people have come to expect from Hope Haven Rwanda.
Oh, and did I mention that our Secondary students are required to take English, Kinyarwanda, French and Swahili classes?
Honestly, developing workbooks for every class seemed like an overwhelming project and we weren’t sure if it would ever happen.
Then Erin showed up, willing to volunteer and to invest herself in this massive workbook development project. Erin has clearly embraced a weighty biblical principle reflected in Ecclesiastes 9:10: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”
Erin recognized how exceptionally valuable these workbooks would be in our context, so she took her vast experience and perspective, rolled up her sleeves and started meeting one-on-one with our teachers. She coached them, encouraged them and helped them cross the finish line!
This is a powerful example of delivering hope in a desperate place. May God give each one of us eyes to see the needs around us and hearts to jump in and serve!