Justin Speer, a member of the WEI board of directors and the Deacon of WEI at the Katy Church of Christ in Katy, Texas, has a heart-warming story to share with us.
Justin writes, “This quarter, we relay an uplifting message about a WEI Internet teacher, Steven Sykes, who resides in Katy, with his wife Laura, his daughter Ellie and son Ethan. Steven has been a source of encouragement for many brothers and sisters at the congregation in Katy.
“What makes Steven’s story unique is that he was diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) nearly eight years ago.”
At that time, Steven was a natural athlete (6 feet 3 inches tall) who loved to run and bike and play sports. Today, walking is a struggle. He often falls, and painful muscle spasms grip him at night. It is hard for him to eat and talk.
Justin says, “His life has been turned upside down physically, but I’ve never seen him stronger spiritually. It is rare not to see a smile on his face—even after he falls. He is a tremendous example of inner strength and grace.”
Steven said to Justin, “The great Physician is our Creator, and what he has created, he can heal.”
Justin asked Steven when and why he became a WEI Internet teacher, and he replied, “October 8, 2016, was a great day—the day I was approached to teach others. WOW!!! Think about it. It was awesome. Why? The best way to learn more is to teach others, and I love sharing. What a great feeling it is to share the Bible. It is Good News. We create and develop relationships with people around the world. Don’t forget: It is the ‘World’ English Institute. Another benefit is that I work with the godly brothers and sisters at WEI.” Justin asked Steven how many students he had taught, and he replied, “I am working toward 100 students, and I am almost there.”
When asked if he had any advice for individuals who are hesitant to teach English through WEI, Steven said, “WEI is a limitless opportunity to teach English and God’s word. All teachers are planting seeds. That’s it. So, open your laptop and get online. God will give the increase. Oh, by the way, the WEI website does all the heavy lifting. It provides a pool of students. It provides the online curriculum. It does the grading, and it provides encrypted private email. If you can point and click and write an email, you’re perfect.”
Finally, Justin asked if he had any words of wisdom for WEI readers and teachers. Steven replied, “Evangelism is a work of communication. Keep talking to students with enthusiasm. As followers of Christ, we must teach others about him. Why not use factual biblical stories to teach people about Christ? Also important, don’t forget to pray.”
As Justin said to Steven, “Thanks so much for sharing a little of your story and your work with WEI. You are an amazing example and source of encouragement.”
The Amazing Thurman Brothers
Tom Langley writes, “If World English Institute had a record book, two retired businessmen, Robert and Rocky Thurman, of Celina, Tennessee, would certainly hold the record of the most students taught by siblings. Together, these brothers are teaching, or have taught, more than 13,000 students in 76 countries, and they continue to take students
“Both have some special memories of those early teaching days. For Rocky, it was Edwin [Vicente] in the Philippines. Edwin finished all his lessons in just a little over a month.” Robert explained, “We connected Edwin with Steven Prine who makes regular trips to the Philippines to preach the gospel. I got in touch with Edwin, and he wanted to meet Steven on his next trip to the Philippines. On that trip, Edwin was baptized.”