(A Testimony of a Pastor turned Teacher)
By Wensdy S. Casio
I am greatly honoured to become a vessel in expounding truth as a minister for more than two decades. I started to work as a freshman missionary at sixteen and was deployed in one of the remote places in the province of Quirino in Cagayan Valley region as my first station. Given my age, and very little experience during that time, I had faced tremendous challenges to adjust to my new environment–the language, way of life, geographical location, and even their food. Everything was new to a novice preacher like me but God didn’t fail to help me to overcome giants in front of me.
I vividly recalled when I was about to end the first Bible study session I had with these people I asked them if they understand the message. I heard from one of the adult members sitting at the back said “Awan naawatak uray maysa, awan Americano ditoy” which literally means “I didn’t understand even one, there is no American here”. (The chapel is not that big so I can literally hear him saying those words). For a moment, I didn’t know what to say ordo because I didn’t understand what he uttered only to find out that we both didn’t understand each other because of our language differences. (I deliver the sermon in Taglish but they used Ilocano as their medium, so to hear preaching not in Ilocano is difficult especially for the adults) Why do I mention this? Because I want to share that despite my limitations and difficulty learning their language, I never doubted my calling as a missionary. To address the issue I tried to find a way on how to learn their language, what I did, I gathered the children and talked to them and asked them the translation of the words I’d like to say. Gradually I learned their language and was able to speak at least to a conversational level.
If I never doubted my calling as a bearer of His words not an iota of disbelief about my profession as a teacher – it’s a destiny, my destiny. To prove my point, when I was in fifth grade I gathered my younger cousin in our humble house, and there I acted as their teacher with a fescue in my hand guiding them to read what I wrote in the small blackboard. I taught them simple lessons never knew that this simple children’s play is will serve as a prognostication that someday I will become a pastor and a professional teacher both at the same time. I’ve come to realize that this was really part of His design for me. Fourteen years after I graduated high school was the gap before I returned to school and earned a college degree.
I certainly had no intention to boast something that I knew but honestly preaching is not really that far from teaching. We used homiletics as an art of preaching while we have pedagogy as the art of teaching. Both gospelers and instructors are messengers delivering a message. Unless the message is delivered there is no preaching nor teaching. Unless the student or hearer received the message, there is no lesson taught.
As a preacher we love to see young converts mature as a godly individual, the process was not easy and there is no shortcut – it will require much knowledge and great skills to achieve this level. In education, great demand of passions and patience in teaching your student before you will see them succeed in their lives. It was heartwarming to see your students with diploma in their hands exalting that you are one of their inspirations why they believe that education was a significant tool to achieve their goal. Not to mention, that deep inside our hearts were so proud that we became part of their journey. There is one student who posted in his fb wall address to me “To my most favourite teacher” and I was surprised because I handled him six years ago during my first year in teaching after my graduation. Maybe he saw something in me that made me special to him. (Of course I did little questions why he said so) Those are our rewards as a teacher not to exalt big achievement but little impact to the lives of our students not to dispel the simple yet observant eyes of those little minds that look up on us as their models.
There was an additional reason why I’m still here because I love to influence people positively; and the church and the school is the special and perfect place for me to fulfil this intention. Don’t get me wrong it doesn’t mean that because I’m an emisor I didn’t got angry, definitely not! I’m just a human not divine that you can’t see me being complacent with ostensible immodesty of a rude learner, I will for sure make it to a point to talk to that learner rationally and sensibly remind him about etiquette and civility and that made a distinct difference from the others.