Throughout the schoolyard, children’s laughter and squeals filled the air, and, in the distance, I heard a chorus of voices say, “Ephesians 4:32.”
I walked into a classroom to hear more than 30 children reciting, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.”
It was a values class—a place where children learn about Jesus Christ. These classes focus on memorizing scripture and learning Biblical principles and morals.
Twenty-five teachers work in 128 schools throughout the Philippines instilling these principles in more than 16,000 students. Teachers travel by foot, motorcycle, and boat to reach multiple schools each day.
Emilor, a mother whose third grade son, Melorjun, participates in values class, said that she already sees a difference in his behavior.
“Before the class, he was always absent in school because he never wanted to go,” she said. “Now, he is learning the importance of education and going to class.”
Joan Schvili, a teacher in the program, talked to me about the change she is seeing in her students. She explained that not only are they more respectful, diligent in their studies, and confident, but, most importantly, they’re also sharing what they’ve learned about Jesus with friends and family.
These classes might directly influence 16,000 students, but their impact goes far beyond that. Parents, siblings, and friends are all hearing the Gospel as a result of these classes.
“I cannot find words to describe how I feel that God trusted me enough to use me to tell them His story,” said Joan.
More than 20 of her students have accepted Jesus as their Savior since starting the values classes.
After class, Joan introduced me to Roxanne, one of her students. Roxanne is in sixth grade and has been in Joan’s class for the past 10 months. She told me that she vividly remembers learning the story in Matthew 14 where Jesus multiplies loaves of bread and fish to feed the 5,000. When she found out that this was not a fictional story but something that actually happened, she knew she wanted to follow Jesus.
“I decided to accept Jesus as my Savior,” she said. “I want to change and do better than I did before.”
Roxanne recently got baptized at Joan’s church, and she loves to tell others about how Jesus saved her.
“It’s not just play—it’s a real relationship,” she said.
After I finished asking Roxanne questions about the values classes, I asked her if there was anything else that she would like to share. She hesitantly whispered something to her teacher and grinned.
“I want to tell you my whole story,” she said to me.
This young girl went on to share her heart. She told me that she grew up in an abusive family and now lives with her aunt. She talked about how hard it is to succeed in her studies because of a lack of family support. She said that her family discourages her from attending church because they don’t believe in Jesus, and sometimes they even assign her extra chores to complete before she can leave the house, which keeps her from going to school and church.
Despite these challenges, Roxanne dreams of going to high school and earning her diploma. She also wants to work in ministry at her church and is praying that God will make a way.
As Roxanne shared these pieces of her heart with me, her words kept echoing in my mind—“I want to tell you my whole story.”
Too often, I think we’re guilty of only sharing bits and pieces of our story—the parts that we think are worthy to be shared or paint us in the best light, the parts that we think are pretty. But when we share only these small parts, we hide His power.
It’s the whole story that makes us who we are as children of God. It’s the whole story that shows God’s redeeming grace. It’s the whole story that needs to be shared.
Roxanne knew the importance of her story—the good parts and the hard parts. Jesus is in the whole story.