Working as an English teacher gives Christar worker Mark* a wealth of opportunities to build relationships in a Kurdish community through which he can share the hope of Christ. Below, he takes us through a typical day.
The morning is when I get things done. Once I get going, everything is great, but, 7 a.m.? Ugh!
OK, OK, I’m awake. I sit at the kitchen table with my Bible, a journal and a strong cup of coffee as I reluctantly wake up. I am not a morning person.
After coffee, I eat some bread with jam and list my to-dos for today. My schedule is pretty consistent most days, but I keep a list at all times to keep me on task.
By the time I’m out of the shower, the coffee has kicked in, and I’m ready to go.
The teachers all meet at the school each weekday morning at 9 to pray as a team for about an hour. Taking into account the 10-minute taxi ride, I’ve got just under an hour at my house before I should call the cab. Whenever I can, I call Muhammad, my favorite driver. I like having a consistent driver because it’s yet another way to build friendships with locals.
I sit back down at the kitchen table to send out a few email responses and check flight prices for my upcoming trip to the States. After reading the news highlights online, I take five minutes to work on the initial draft for my next update letter to my support team.
Fifty minutes fly by before I pull up Muhammad’s number and call him for a ride to the school.
I walk down the steps of my building to the street, greeted by bright sun and the familiar honk of Muhammad’s taxi. I smile as I jump in the front seat. Muhammad brought me home from school one evening about seven months ago, and we hit it off.
I watch the people doing their shopping and standing near the storefronts through a blur as the taxi kicks up dust. This country feels like home more often than not, but I still marvel at how different life is here compared to back in the States.
The teachers arrive. I love this group! We are all within a couple years in age and are all single workers, which gives us a lot in common. These seven teammates have been a rock for me, and this time of prayer is so important—we pray for our students, for the political situation in the country, for each other.
Tomorrow is Sam’s birthday, and after prayer we organize the plans for dinner and bowling on Friday to celebrate. We decide we should eat at my apartment because I live closest to the bowling alley. We compare notes about which students have accepted the invitation to the celebration and estimate there will be around 15 of us! These gatherings with our students have led to so many strong friendships, giving us great opportunities to share the love of Jesus.
Muhammad had told me on the way over to the school that he wouldn’t be able to take me home, so I head over to the main street and signal to a driver who is leaning back in his seat waiting for a customer, the car engine idling.
I greet him in Kurdish. He’s unfamiliar to me, but is quick to tell me all about his kids when I ask about their photo he’s taped to the dashboard.
I’m okay at Kurdish after almost two years here, but certainly not fluent. I catch most of what he said … I think? Kurds are so kind, so open and surprisingly generous with Westerners. Between my students and encounters with others like taxi drivers and store clerks, I have plenty of opportunities to practice the language and evaluate people’s willingness to hear of the hope of Christ. It’s an exciting time here, with lots of people open to discussing faith.
We pull up to my place and I pay the driver and thank him. As I open the car door, the heat of the day hits me. I pull out my keys as I cross the street to my apartment. The elderly man who lives below comes out of his door as I walk up. We exchange smiles and greetings.
In my flat, I put away some dry dishes and sit down at the table to conquer a few more computer tasks on my to-do list. I work diligently until my stomach grumbles. At about half past 12, I open my fridge and settle on last night’s dinner leftovers.
My Kurdish language tutor, Binar, arrives and we settle down with my textbook. I know I’ve come a long way in comprehension, but oh, what I would give to arrive at fluency! Binar is kind, patient with me and quick to encourage my progress. I read a passage out loud, he corrects mispronunciations and we talk through some of the trickier vocabulary. I’m usually amazed by how fast the hour with Binar goes.
We say goodbye. I head to the sink and fill a glass with water, taking a few minutes to stare at the gorgeous view from my window while I sip. I can’t believe I get to live in this place!
While it’s fresh on my mind, I review what Binar taught me. I want to go deeper in my conversations with the friends I’ve made here and feel confident when I speak.
I try to give my brain a short break after my language lesson and practice before I head back to the school for evening classes. Sometimes, it’s as simple as scrolling through Instagram, but today I take 30 minutes to watch some trending YouTube videos.
I brush my teeth and throw on a blue button-down shirt and dress pants, transitioning into teacher mode. By 4:25 p.m., I’m calling Muhammad for a ride back to school for my evening classes. He’ll be here in 15 minutes.
Back at the school, I head straight to my office. My first class is at 6 and I use the remaining hour to print out materials and fine-tune my lesson plans for tonight.
The school offers English classes to students 16 years old and older. I teach two or three 40-minute intermediate-level classes each evening.
As I close out my second class, I see a text from a local believer here who has become a good friend. He has been suffering from kidney stones and asks if I would go with him to talk to the doctor about the medical complications.
I’m able to meet him in the street in front of the school almost immediately since I’ve finished my two classes. We head to the clinic together.
We’ve just finished our third visit to various doctors’ offices, trying to get a physician to read my friend’s test results. That’s pretty typical here and, though it used to agitate me, I’m accustomed to it now. This country’s medical system is hurting, and the doctors lack some basic technology to perform their jobs. But now we have the results—and a course of action and medication to help my friend.
We say goodbye and I head down the block to a grocery store before getting a taxi to take me home. I’m having a few of my students over for dinner tonight, and they will be at the house by 9:30 p.m., so I need to rush a bit to get home and start cooking before they arrive.
To be honest, I love it when I haven’t quite finished the meal prep when my friends arrive because they jump in and assist with the stirring and tasting and seasoning.
The students from the school have taught me so much about their culture through food. They have also taken me and the other English teachers on day trips, invited us to parties and explained holiday rituals.
They feel very much like family here—I love spending time with them. I see their joy, their pride in their food and culture, and I long to see them trust in Christ as their Savior. Most evenings of the week, I’ve got various students coming over for dinner, and most conversations eventually lead to my faith in Christ and their access to salvation.
We’re seated on cushions on my living room floor, with the food spread out on the short table. The meal is rich and delicious: rice with meat, cucumbers and tomatoes tossed in olive oil and salt, fried beef patties, a potato soup and a variety of sodas.
My guests dig in and we smile and laugh and piece together meaningful conversation between my Kurdish and their broken English. We are friends, sharing food and learning of each other’s lives. I’m happy, but my heart breaks with desire for these men to trust Christ as their Savior.
Our talk goes late; it’s nearly midnight by the time they head home. Goodbyes and good nights are exchanged and I close the door as they leave. I turn around to face dirty dishes that will wait until morning. I am full in belly and heart, thankful and exhausted. This is a pretty typical day for me and I couldn’t be more grateful that God has brought me to this land to demonstrate His love to these people I love so dearly.
How can I get involved?
- Praise God for opening doors for believers to live and serve in least-reached communities by working in roles in education.
- Pray that many people will be drawn to the hope they see displayed in the lives of these workers.
Learn more about how God could use your skills in education for His glory in a least-reached community.