What I Learned from my students in 'Drawings of Light'

Jeremiah, 9
Meaning of Name: Exalted of the Lord

John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

During our first class, the students wrote a profile answering basic questions about themselves.

When asked for a fun fact about himself; Jeremiah wrote, “I don’t like fighting.” This 9-year-old boy is a peacemaker and has a better grasp of the Kingdom that Jesus embodied and established than most adults. By his simple yet profound statement, Jeremiah is revolting against all violence.

Jeanette, 14
Meaning of Name: God is Gracious

1 John 5:21, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”
John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

One Friday, as we walked the kids to our home for “dinner and a movie” Natalia asked Jeannette if she was happy. Without hesitation she replied, “I am happy, I think I have everything I need. God always provides for the good things and for the things He does not provide, it’s because I know they are not good for me.”

At an age when most girls pride themselves with having the coolest phone, the best clothes and the newest CD, Jeannette understands money does not bring happiness to life. Jeanette does not focus on what she doesn’t have but cherishes and values what she has as the essence of her joy. By her simple yet profound statement, Jeanette is revolting against idols.

Alessandro, 22
Meaning of Name: Protector of the People

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” – Mother Teresa

One day, Sandro came into our home and saw a roommate, with her computer, alone in an empty room. “Wow,” he said to her. “You guys spend a lot of time alone.”

Contrary to our western, individualistic and solitary way of life, in Capricorn people are a priority and community is their way of life. While computers, iPods, cars, apartments and full bank accounts bring many comfort, and the ability to keep others at a safe distance, the people of Capricorn breathe each other in and out – relationships are everything. By his simple yet profound statement, Sandro is revolting against individualism.

Adrian, 15
Meaning of Name: Praise Worthy

“Jesus revolted against this classism by touching lepers, healing the sick, treating beggars as equals, treating women with respect, identifying with the poor, and befriending those judged as the worst sinners.” Greg Boyd

Walking down the main road into Capricorn, a young girl was struggling to carry a sack of potatoes. Immediately, Lindsay and Natalia help carry the bag and asked Adrian to translate. Not only did Adrian translate, he took the sack of potatoes and carried it on his shoulders to her home.

While most teenage boys tend to be awkward, disrespectful and vulgar, Adrian, or Moegamat, is a respectful, noble gentleman. He cares deeply for his friends and family, treats women with kindness and respects his parents differing beliefs and religions. By his simple yet profound acts, Adrian is revolting against social oppression.

Meaning of Name: God is with Us

Mark 9:35, “If anyone desires to be the first he shall be the last of all and servant of all.”

For two weeks, Emmanuel’s camera did not work and none of his photos developed properly. Instead of getting upset, he encouraged his friends, commenting on their best shots.

His fun loving personality and contagious smile brings life to those around him. When it would be easy to become discouraged and jealous of his classmates, Emmanuel chose to support them. By his simple yet profound acts, Emmanuel is revolting against pride.

Meaning of Name: God is Great

“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is a protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.” – Nelson Mandela

While showing Savannah her photos, Atalia constantly expresses concern with each person photographed. “You must pray for them,” she says. “They have no shoes and no water; they are suffering.”

Atalia’s gentle heart, empathy, and compassion express her deep love for the people around her. She demonstrates the heart of Jesus as she looks beyond herself to the needs of others. By her simple yet profound statements, Atalia is revolting against selfishness.

Meaning of Name: Resolute Protector

“Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, but it’s the only answer.” – Dorothy Day

When asked about the scars on his face, Bronwill replied, “I like scars, they are the drops of my tears marked in my face.” He believes having marks is proof that you’ve survived some storm in life, that it makes you tough, strong and a real man.

Bronwill doesn’t avoid the harsh realities of this life; he embraces them, rough edges and all. He understands that life is messy, and if we’re willing to love, we must be willing to get hurt. By his simple yet profound statement, Bronwill is revolting against superficiality and a shallow existence.

Meaning of Name: Thank You

“One of the fundamental rights we have is the right to be different, to differ. When one has the only right to be the same that is not yet a right.” – Estanislao Zuleta

Often during class, Shante challenges the teachers. When asked to write in her journal on day, instead of starting right away, she needed to know WHY. She needed more information. She’s not afraid to fearlessly express her opinion, and she even does it politely.

Shante does not accept anything at face value. She has a fiery spirit and challenges the status quo. Fighting for equality is also fighting to be different; we must learn to disagree well. Community does not only happen in the harmony but also in the differences. By her simple yet profound action, Shante is revolting against fear of man.