Faith in Frustration: A Story of Dependence
Thursday, 01 May 2014
For Leah Branderhorst ’11, following God’s call was more than a simple test of patience. The Trinity alumna spent the majority of her teaching career overcoming obstacles, moving from city to city, and praying for God’s will to be made clear. Despite the struggles she faced throughout her early career, Branderhorst’s story demonstrates the power of prayer and perseverance in her career.
Branderhorst graduated from Trinity a secondary English education major. Her first education class solidified her dreams--she wanted to teach English in Christian high school. Yet God had other plans. “After graduating, I realized very quickly that God was pushing me towards something much different,” she said.
Branderhorst currently teaches 6th grade at KIPP Academy of Arts and Letters in Austin. Most of her students do not speak English as a first language. Yet Branderhorst embraces the challenges. “While not a single day is easy, every single day is worth it,” she said. “Every single day, I know that God is providing me with the strength I need.”
“While not a single day is easy, every single day is worth it.” Leah Branderhorst
This powerful testament of dependence was instilled in Branderhorst long before she stepped into her first classroom. Through the education she received at Trinity, the alumna learned the importance of faith in the workplace. “Trinity taught me how to bring my faith and my calling into my daily life,” she said. “Trinity taught me to love my students, despite what they do or say at times. Trinity taught me to love unconditionally. Trinity taught me how important prayer is for me and for my students.”
Branderhorst begins every morning with a 20-minute commute to work. During her travels, she prays for each student from one class every day. This care is also evident in her classroom, as Branderhorst takes time to invest in each student individually.
One of her favorite teaching moments was witnessing firsthand the results of her work with 8th graders who challenged her every day. The following year, while still teaching at that school, one of those students was back at school to watch a basketball game.
“We started talking, and he said the one thing that will always stick with me. ‘Ms. I hated your class and how hard it was. I was annoyed with how hard you made us work and never understood why. Now that I am in high school, my English class is easy for me. That’s because of you. Thanks.’ I never entered teaching expecting that, or expecting to be remembered like that, but that comment, that keeps me teaching on the tough days.”
When asked to give advice for current students, her reply was simple: “Stick with it.” Branderhorst realized through her own journey the difficulty of following God’s call. She packed up and moved 20 hours away from her friends and family. She gave up all she knew to start over in a poor, remote school system. She struggled. She waited. She prayed. She listened.
And then, she followed.
Leah Branderhorst relied on a faith developed through her time at Trinity. She leaned on the Lord through times of uncertainty and used her gifts to strengthen each community she was a part of. Now that she’s found her place, she encourages others to carry out the same perseverance.
“The incredible thing about our faith is that we have a God who is bigger than all of it. A God who knows we can’t do it on our own, and a God who is happy to walk us through it all. So stick with it. He is sticking with it, as should you.”