A Story of Life
Alliance Academy doesn’t let students graduate early. Even if a studious Senior has all the credits they need, they still have to take the full year of classes and wait until June to graduate with the rest of their class. Except for when God drops lives into our midst whose stories reach far beyond any AAI policy or human attempts to orchestrate great things here.
At the beginning of this school year, AAI admitted a new student to start her Senior year here. It’s never ideal for a student to change schools at this point in their high school career, but this girl’s story was unlike any that has ever come through the school’s doors. She was from Persia, a predominantly Muslim country, and she and her mom had come to Ecuador as refugees fleeing danger at home. She had attended many different schools as they sought safety, and AAI was her last resort. Her first several weeks here, she was fairly quiet and withdrawn, and the exhaustion that tinged her eyes spoke of the weariness that uncertainty, fear, and a heavy academic load can cause a young woman. I met with her and was simultaneously struck by her beauty and by the heavy weight on her shoulders. This was the kind of girl that was hard to shake once you’d met her. You just knew something was happening in her life.
Fast forward several months and countless prayers. Her eyes began to appear brighter and her smile wider as she excelled in all areas, earning a spot as 4th in her class and getting involved at school in many different ways. Having been told they were being granted protection and citizenship in Europe but would have to leave any day, the only way for this girl to finish her high school career would be to graduate early from our school beforehand. The exception was made and a graduation ceremony just for her was planned and carried out. Suits, dresses, flag bearers, processional, speeches, the works. The student body was uncharacteristically quiet and focused as this poised young lady was celebrated and handed her high school diploma, looking very ready for whatever life held for her next.
The story would be a great one if it ended there – but it doesn’t! The most moving speech of the event was by far the one she herself delivered. She described the way she had come here burdened and fearful, and experienced the love and embrace of this community. She shared that “The teachers didn’t just teach me the subjects. They taught me Life.” Yes, by the grace of God they did! They had seen her fear and pointed her to God’s sovereignty. They had seen her weakness and pointed her to His strength. They had seen her lost and pointed her to Christ. She saw His open arms and went running into them!
This incredible young woman spent just 6 months in our community. But in that short time God used this place in powerful ways to change one beautiful life. Soon she’ll be heading off to yet another continent. I pray she’ll continue to find courage and strength in the truth from the verses a teacher showed her that changed her life:
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save. He will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love, he will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
March 20, 2014 Ecuador