NEVER SAY NEVER
CHARLIE'S STORY | BOLIVIA
“I’ll never be a missionary!” These words came out of my mouth as I listened to this wonderful girl share her heart with me about being a missionary someday. Two years later that wonderful girl would become my wife and we would find ourselves teaching at Carachipampa Christian School (CCS) in Bolivia, South America for a year!
My wife, Tami, first learned of CCS when she had the opportunity to do her student teaching there through Cedarville University. I was studying to go into youth ministry and honestly missions never entered my mind. One day, while still in Bolivia student teaching, Tami called to tell me of the teacher needs for the next school year. They needed a 2nd grade teacher and a high school Bible teacher. She asked if I would be interested in teaching the Bible classes. I wrestled a long time with the Lord about this. God had given me a heart to minister to students, but Bolivia? After some time, He brought me to the point of understanding that students in Bolivia have needs just as much as those in the US. So we went. God gave us the most difficult and most rewarding year.
After that year, God directed us to serve in student ministry in Iowa for 10 wonderful years. We established a missions trip rotation for our student ministry where students had the opportunity every four years to go overseas. Because of our time in Bolivia, we returned there twice for missions trips with our church.
The second of these missions trips to Bolivia was in 2002. Our group was a blend of teenagers and adults leading a VBS ministry in a local church, helping with construction projects at both a Christian camp and CCS. As we worked at CCS, we had multiple opportunities to learn of their need for a full-time Bible teacher. As we left the school and went to our next project, we told the school director we’d specifically pray God would provide a full time Bible teacher for them.
Fast forward two years, Tami and I were back in Bolivia, this time with our two children, team-teaching the Bible classes full time at CCS! God, by prayer, touched our own hearts to be that answer.
We had great relationships with the students and enjoyed the time we had in and out of the classroom, teaching God’s word, both its content and daily application. I also oversaw the weekly chapels, led the student worship team and enjoyed building into the lives of high school students. Our own kids attended the same school, allowing us to go to school together as a family! Our kids thoroughly enjoyed their time at CCS and love Bolivia to this day.
Soon after starting at CCS, God also led us to begin a neighborhood outreach in our home. As this “Kids Club” ministry grew and expanded, we knew we needed help. The students at CCS began to attend and soon we would have anywhere from 10-20 students gathered in our living room for our briefing and prayer time at nine-o’clock Saturday morning before Kids Club. These CCS students “owned” this ministry! Each student was given their assignment, whether leading games or crafts, leading the songs or just playing with and loving on the kids. This was an amazing time of ministry both to our neighborhood kids and in training our CCS students for ministry!
Due to health reasons, we ended our ministry in Bolivia in January 2012. We transitioned the “Kids Club” to our neighborhood church, where the kids could continue to learn and grow in their relationship with Jesus. We are currently serving at the SIM USA office in Charlotte, NC, but CCS will always have a special place in our hearts, as will other schools like CCS around the world.
We thank God for the years he allowed us to disciple students at CCS. That time and those relationships are gifts from God. We agree with Paul as he expressed in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, “We were delighted to share with [them] not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” We trust God for the seeds of His word to take root in the lives of our students and Christ’s love to move them to be on mission for Him wherever in the world they may be.