Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?
Daily Prompt: Teacher’s Pet
My first response when I read this prompt, “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding,” as my mind flew back to unpleasant memories of grade school. But then I thought, “Wait a minute! This didn’t say anything about a childhood teacher. This just said to talk about a teacher who had a real impact on my life.” Suddenly, this prompt didn’t seem like such a chore.
I remember the first time I saw him, in September 2001. I had enrolled in Christian World College of Theology, established by Dr. Ray Chamberlain, and I was very excited for my first class. The Lord had led me here, and I was anxious to see what would come of this.
My friend Jean and I had arrived a few minutes early, because I am one who likes a front row seat because, firstly, I don’t want to miss anything, and secondly, I’m very distractible. If I sit behind anyone, I’m likely to pay more attention to the people in front of me rather than to the instructor. Also, generally, people who sit in the back rows tend to chat more, and that completely wrecks my concentration. Therefore, we arrived early, and got front row seats.
As I said, I was really excited about this new endeavor that the Lord had led me to, until I saw the elderly white-haired gentleman step up to the podium. My heart sank. “Oh Lord,” I prayed, “please don’t let him be our teacher.” Now, instead of excitement, I had a sense of dread. I was expecting a younger instructor, one with some fire and passion for the Lord in his blood. This pale older man with the red rosy cheeks didn’t look like he could have much fire in him. I was afraid that I was destined to spend the next three hours in boredom.
I know how bad that sounds, but I’m just being honest about my feelings. The older man walked to the podium and told the class to gather together into groups of 5-10 people and begin praying. Wow. I had never been a part of a prayer group like that before! Everyone asked if there were any needs to be prayed for, and then, holding hands, everyone began crying out to God all at once. This was no quiet circle, where each person takes a turn praying, and then the next one and the next one, so that everyone has a chance to think up a nice sounding prayer to offer up. Ascending up to the heavens were the heartfelt cries of men and women seeking the Lord.
Coming from a very conservative Methodist church, this was quite an assault to my senses, and yet, I felt strangely warm inside — and hungry for more. After that time of prayer, my hopes were dashed as the elderly gentleman called the class to order. Silently groaning inside, I got my pen in hand, preparing myself to try to stay awake and take notes. I was now secretly sorry for choosing a front row seat because I have this problem. When I get bored, I tend to fall asleep. I try to fight it, but for some reason, when I am bored, my eyelids get extremely heavy, and to make matters worse, I’ve been known to snore in public…
The elderly gentleman, who reminded me of Santa Claus with his white hair and rosy red cheeks, introduced himself as Dr. Ray Chamberlain, founder of C.W.C.T., and then opened his mouth and began to teach with more fire and passion than I had ever witnessed in any younger preacher or teacher. I was enthralled as he taught us, hanging on every word that he spoke. I had to remind myself to write notes, because I was so mesmerized by his passion and his instruction. I also had to repent for judging a book by its cover.
The three hours of class slipped by so quickly that I was both surprised and disappointed that it was over. I couldn’t wait for the next class, and the next and the next and the next… During the two years that I sat under his tutelage, I learned and grew strong in the Lord. I soaked up the biblical history like a dry sponge soaks up water, and I absorbed the ways of the Lord and His word better than Bounty® Paper Towels absorb spills.
There is one subject area that Brother Ray (this is what he liked to be called, rather than the more formal Dr. Chamberlain) taught that changed my life forever. It was the section on Praise and Worship. Now, maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, but it was to me, because it forever changed my relationship with God. You see, I loved God, but this class would change that love, as I began to fall in love with Him. He opened the class with a song, and his love for our Savior was clearly evident, as tears rolled down his cheeks and he sang, “Without Him.” I am truly not a Southern Gospel fan, but something about the lyrics, something about his love and passion for the Lord spoke to my heart.
Without Him I could do nothing
Without Him I?d surely fail
Without Him I would be drifting
Like a ship without a sail
Without Him I would be dying
Without Him I?d be enslaved
Without Him life would be worthless
But with Jesus thank God I’m saved
Oh Jesus, oh Jesus
Do you know Him today
Please don’t turn Him away
Oh Jesus, my Jesus
Without Him how lost I would be
Without Him how lost I would be
Then Brother Ray began to teach about the difference between praise and worship, and where they could be found in scripture. And as he talked, something inside of me awakened. I had to have what he had. I needed it desperately and I couldn’t rest until I got a taste of it, and so, the following Sunday, I attended Brother Ray’s church for the first time.
I’ll never forget it. I was fine as I walked inside, but the instant I stepped into the sanctuary, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit so strongly that I began to weep. No one had said or done anything to me, it was just that the presence of the Lord was so thick in there, that I couldn’t contain myself. I wept through the whole service, but they weren’t tears of sorrow. I’m sitting here weeping even now, as I type this, because they are tears of joy. Oh what joy there is in the presence of the Lord!
When I left the church that day, I determined in my heart that I would visit again the following Sunday. I wasn’t planning to leave the church that I had been a part of for seventeen years — I just needed to taste of this joy again. The following Sunday, I came to church with my son, daughter and her friend in tow. Again, though I had made up my mind not to react as I had the previous Sunday, as soon as I set foot into the sanctuary, the tears began to flow, as I was enveloped by the Holy Spirit.
And then, while sitting in the pew, waiting for the service to begin, I heard the audible voice of the Lord saying, “This is your home now.”
“But Lord,” I silently replied to Him, “I can’t come here. What about my Sunday School class?” I was a Sunday School teacher at the church that I had been a member of for seventeen years. “This is a big church, Lord,” I continued to argue. “I need to have a ministry.”
“Your ministry will be here,” He replied to me.
“But Lord,” I silently spoke to Him again, “my children won’t want to come here. My daughter would never agree to leave our church, you know hard it is for her to be around people she doesn’t know.”
At that point, the praise and worship music started, and my daughter turned to me, beaming and said, “Mom, I don’t care if you ever want to come here again, but I do!” She didn’t know anything of the conversation I had been having with the Lord, but He had moved on her heart as well as mine. My son also confirmed that this was where he wanted to worship as well.
My arguments with God seem so silly now. You see, God has called me to be a worshiper, and He led me to this church so that I could learn how to worship Him freely, and my life has never been the same.
I live and I love to worship the Lord, in spirit and in truth, and it all began because of a very special teacher and pastor, Dr. Ray Chamberlain, who has since gone home to be with the Lord. Words cannot even begin to express my gratitude. Thank you, Brother Ray. I look forward to seeing you and my Jesus again very soon!
Cheryl A. Showers