Circle of Life
December 14, 2010 | Apple Delight
By Blake Weaver
While on a recent trip to South America, I had the privilege of meeting a NICS teacher named BJ Dearmore. Upon hearing her story, I could not help but hum the tune of Elton John’s song titled “Circle of Life.” While I hate to admit that I even know this song, perhaps you will understand why BJ’s journey would make me (and maybe you) think about this particular song. Before I digress further, I do find it interesting how God often completes various circles in our lives. An example of this in my own life is the fact that I graduated from a NICS school in 2001, and now I am an employee of the NICS Home Office. While a much different journey than my own, BJ’s life contains a similar circle.
I invite you to read BJ’s story in her own words:
I was born in the midst of trees being drenched by the rains of rainy season in the state of Amazonas, Brazil. My wee little hometown's name is Eirunepe. It continued to be my home for a little more than ten years at which time my parents decided to return to the US. They felt the need to join a mission, and my father felt the Lord calling him to work with the children who drifted down from small towns like ours looking for a better life; instead they most often found themselves caught in a vicious cycle of drugs, sex, violence, and what not else as they ended up on the streets.
Our time in the US nearly totalled four years before everything finally came together for us to be able to return to Brazil, this time to a city located on the mouth of the Amazon called Belem. My parents had found the mission UFM International (which has since changed its name to Crossworld) that had a ministry started to the Street Children of Belem that my father felt God calling him to. Another benefit to the city of Belem was that my mother would no longer have to home-school us because there was a mission school (a NICS School called Amazon Valley Academy) in the city of Belem as well. We arrived in the city of Belem only two days late for the start of the 2000/2001 school year.
My time at AVA was a happy time. It will always be to me a memory of a very happy time. I confess that the reason for that had more to do with my family than AVA itself. We were united, a family unit as we had been few times before and would never be afterwards. AVA was a new experience. For the first time in my life I was studying at a school where the other students had very similar life stories to mine. I had a chance to make some friendships which I can still claim to this day. The international feel of the school, the strange blend of ideas that floated through the walls of the students' minds, the vastly different worldviews that were brought together in the small classes at AVA are some of the major things that impacted me in my time at the school. They taught me to question, to think, to be more open-minded yet at the same time not immediately accepting new ideas without consideration. My friendships with some of my fellow students also taught me compassion and how to simply be a listener without pity and without judgement.
In regard to the impact that the teachers at AVA had on BJ, she states that:
Spiritually I have to say Mr. Sipes did a fine job of teaching us to honestly look at the other attempts to answer life's questions that are out there; he also equipped us well with the tools to begin to rationally defend our faith. Mr. Banez did too. They also taught me trust and responsibility as they let me take care of their children or as they let me be the student body president. They showed me how to treat all people and all views with respect. I am deeply grateful for the models they strove to be. They were not perfect...but they strove to be living examples of faith.
After graduating from AVA, BJ went back to the U.S. to attend college. She obtained a Studio Art degree with an emphasis in Painting and a minor in Art History from the College of the Ozarks. Upon graduating, BJ had plans to move to New York to start her career. God obviously had different plans for her. Through an unusual set of circumstances, God redirected BJ back to Brazil. BJ recounts that “...an uncle of mine gave me a generous gift which among other things allowed me to return to Brazil. Once Dr. Underwood [AVA’s current School Director] heard I was coming he offered me a job which covered any worries about how to provide for myself when I arrived.” She is now in her second year of teaching Art at AVA.
Obviously, only the sovereignty of God can weave such a circle in a person’s life. The organization of NICS is certainly grateful and blessed that God has chosen to circle BJ’s life back through AVA. Furthermore, while Elton John’s song is most likely not referring to God’s sovereignty, a few of the lyrics seem quite appropriate in regard to the circles that occur in our lives. Lest you think I am crazy to compare BJ’s life, God’s sovereignty, and Elton John’s song, I will leave you with the chorus of the song:
It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life