During an English teaching mission trip to China, my teammates Robin, Julie, and I taught the youngest class. They were ages twelve to fourteen. Every morning, at the beginning of class, we wrote up a daily journal topic. At the end of the first week, the topic was to write a letter to one or all of three of the teachers. One student wrote me a short but heartfelt narrative:
These days I am very happy. Because you teach us many things. I like English camp much. I remember you say Everyone Is A Winner. This make me feel very happy and appreciate, because other teachers don’t say this. I hope you like Teng Chong. Please write me!
At first, after reading this letter, I was a little confused. When did I say “Everyone is a winner?” Why would I say something so cheesy? And how could such a lame line inspire a student so much? Then I finally remembered. It was during the first few days of the English program, when we were playing a game of some kind. At the end I had casually said something like, “Don’t worry guys, everyone’s a winner!”
I was surprised that a line so trite and trivial, at least to me, could have had such an impression on a student. The student had kept an offhand comment like that so close to her memory that she wrote about it at the end of the week! From a few simple lines written in choppy English, I have learned so much about the impact of encouraging, which is to say, showing God’s love. I thought this must be one of those small miracles that God sometimes slips us to remind us of Him. To remind us of His everlasting love that resounds through the simplest gestures, like smiling at my students. Listening when they speak. Telling them they’re winners. So let me tell you. You are a winner!