“I am the way and the truth and the life.” John 14:6, NIV
Have you ever felt called or convicted to do something that made all the sense in the world, and then experienced hiccups, heartbreak, and hard stops when you attempted to get started? This testimony from Lisa Venable highlights what it often takes to see through the weeds, red tape, and roadblocks to pursue a calling to share God’s word with public school students.
Dungeons and Dragons club, Nail-painting club, Tennis club, Robotics club, Gay Straight Alliance club, even a Fungi club… but no Christian club of any kind could be found at my public middle school. This year was not the first time I talked about starting a Bible club, but my conversations and efforts always seemed to end with, “If we wait until Spring or next Fall, we could have a better start.”
This, combined with many other obstacles (such as not knowing any Christian students or parents connected to my school and school club funding from a federal grant that we were told excluded religious clubs), made starting a Christian club at my school seem impossible. But my determination (and the urgency to do something “now”) only grew with each new obstacle.
Then, through a series of events and a few steps of faith, I was connected with another teacher and an instructional assistant willing to help. However, when we brought it to the administration once again, we got another “no.” When I pursued the conversation again, I was told the following: our club would need to meet after school hours when no one was around, I would have to apply for building usage and pay the fees, and I would even need to provide my own liability insurance. The application process, red tape, and expense felt overwhelming. But, God granted me the strength to continue pursuing.
Every day after school for an entire week, I went to the front office hoping to talk to the principal in person. By Friday, I was determined to wait as long as it took. So I sat in an empty office for forty minutes after school until she was available. My principal is a wonderful, kind person, but I still felt a little bit like Daniel going into the lions’ den due to the topic of conversation. However, I was able to walk into the meeting full of peace knowing this was all part of God’s plan.
I wanted to request to see the exact language of the federal grant that, according to her, had denied our requests for funding. But instead of demanding, I came prepared to share that I was applying for my own funding through the Christian Educators’ Turpen Legacy Grant. The grant, I hoped, would cover the costs of building use and insurance, as well as provide snacks and Bibles for the students.
Unbelievably, the principal and I had a wonderful conversation that lasted nearly two hours on that Friday night. Because I answered her questions and heard her concerns, she ended our time by saying, “Let me look into the exact language of that grant and get back to you.” I didn’t even have to ask! God is so good!
The door that was once closed was now open!
A few weeks later, I heard that I had indeed been awarded the Turpen Legacy Grant, and I was able to share that good news with my principal. She gave tentative permission for our club to meet during the same hours as the other clubs but without federal funding for snacks. Things were moving in the right direction, however, I still had some more work to do.
Next, I connected with the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) representative to talk and pray about a possible club at the middle school. Then, an instructional assistant in my building offered to help with the club. Since she was also a parent of a middle schooler in the building, I asked her if she knew of any other Christian parents we could contact. She was able to get us connected with a group of parents who were already meeting to pray for protection over the students and more Christian witnesses in the school. Within less than a couple of weeks, I was amazed to be meeting off-campus with three Christian parents and two FCA reps.
Now that we had permission, funding, and people, we were ready to move forward again. However, when we faced even more opposition with advertising and permission slips, I started to wonder if this club was really going to happen. But, God is faithful! Within a few more weeks, we had our first club meeting. “Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) was our first verse. The students enjoyed the fellowship and the snacks provided by the Turpen Legacy Grant, and they continued to invite more students to hear God’s word through the end of the school year! Thank you, Jesus!
The support and provision from Christian Educators and the Turpen Grant were instrumental in starting this club on our public middle school campus. I’m so grateful I got to be part of the story! My assignment for next year has changed, and I will no longer be at that school, but I did find another teacher willing to continue what we had started. Strangely, although he teaches an entirely different subject than I do, he was assigned to my old classroom on the opposite side of the building from his current room for next year. I’m praying that the club will continue and that more students will be drawn to that room after school this coming year to encounter God’s love.
Have you experienced doubt, worry, fear, or anxiety about an assignment from God? Did you take your concerns to God through prayer or seek prayer support from others? What prayers, connections, and comfort did you find that helped you fulfill His mission? Or have you had a personal encounter with God that you feel called to share? If so, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. I am excited to hear your story!