The first year I was at Bethel Baptist Church my responsibilities seemed to change with the seasons. Actually, “change” isn’t the right word. Perhaps the best word is “grew.” Fall ’07: 6th grade teacher. Summer ’08: 6th grade teacher and Camp Director. Fall ’08: 6th grade teacher and Camp Director and Martial Arts Instructor.
I started training in Tang Soo Do in 1992. I earned my first black belt in ’98. This year (2012) marked my 20th year in the martial arts. I’ve been teaching for 17 years, I’ve studied 10 different styles, and I’ve earned black belts in 3 of those styles. I am currently working toward my 5th degree in Tiger Ryu Ninjutsu. SCS knew all about my training, and we talked briefly when I was hired about the possibility of starting a program. I didn’t think it would happen for a loooooong while. Seriously, what Christian school has their own karate program? As Day Camp wound down and my second year of teaching grew near, one of the pastoral staff members got it in his head that I needed to start a martial arts program that fall! By God’s grace, in one month I went from nothing to a full-on curriculum. During the day I taught my new brood of 6th graders, and after school I ran over to the gym to meet my “little ninjas.” Of course, our curriculum has changed many times over the past years, but I thank the Lord that when my first students walked in the door they were greeted by a no-holds-barred, full-scale martial arts program. Side note: There are some things that don’t need to be prayed about. If there is a need, and God has gifted you in that area . . . fill the need!
I spoke with my pastor and told him I expected about 40 students. God gave me 80. With twice as many students, my wife was able to quit her job and stay home full-time with our son. God also gave me a student who would be intregal in running a successful school. She was brand new to the martial arts, but she wanted to earn her black belt in two years (she was a junior and would be graduating and going off to college). I told her that it was possible, but that I would have to ninja-kick her all the way. She said she was up for it. Two years later she earned her black belt and made a successful assistant instructor along the way (otherwise it was just me and 80 students!). I am very proud of Madelyn and her martial arts career.
The best thing about the program is that I can unashamedly preach God’s Word during the classes. We meet in a beautiful room off the school’s running track and everyone knows that we are as Christian as the church. In fact, it’s not simply a karate class, it is a Leadership Program. My students know that they are there to learn how to protect themselves and the ones they love from physical and spiritual harm. I have seen many young people develop and mature as they learn to discipline their minds, bodies, and souls. Side Note: If you’re not teaching God in all you teach, you’re teaching a world that works without God. When you do that . . . you lie.
Every year I have had more students than I can handle, and every year God allows the program to mature. One of the reasons I consider myself to be so blessed is that God has given me a place to serve that allows me to utilize the various passions I have. God allowed me to have many unique experiences growing up in order to make me the man He wanted me to be. Now He’s given me an outlet and said, “It’s time to start using those skills I gave you.”
Just one calendar year later and I found myself loving my job and basking in the glory that was serving God.
Amazingly enough, He had even more changes and opportunities for service already prepared for me. Stay tuned to Part 5.