Mrs. Yurami Hepler, our new Spanish teacher, is ready to build relationships with students and families at Salem, and is looking forward to creating new memories this year. She is especially excited to see how God will work at our school this year. She wants to see her students learn to communicate effectively in Spanish so they can use that knowledge to reach the world for Christ.
Mrs. Hepler, who was born in Venezuela, told students of her childhood and how she came to know Christ and have a personal relationship with him during Chapel on September 15th.
For the first six years of her life, Mrs. Hepler’s family lived with her paternal grandmother. While they had financial wealth during this time, there was not a consistent religious education. Mrs. Hepler’s grandmother practiced witchcraft, her father attended a Catholic church, and her mother attended a Baptist church. Though she was exposed to religion, she did not understand salvation or why having a relationship with God was important.
When Mrs. Hepler was six years old, her mother took a job in a different city and her family moved in with her maternal grandmother. Her father was deaf and could not work, so her mother’s job had to provide for all seven members of the family. Financially, they were now poor. However, her maternal grandmother was a Christian and took their family to a church that taught the truth of Scripture. She began seeing what Christianity meant, and that it was more than a religious practice.
Attending her grandmother’s church became more and more difficult as it was further away and Mrs. Hepler’s family did have a car at the time. However, they were connected with a new home church that was much easier for them to access. Two American missionaries had started this church, Tim and Pam Darling. Though she was not aware of it at the time, the Darling’s were Mrs. Hepler’s first connection to Salem as their ministry is supported by Salem.
As Mrs. Hepler became more and more involved in church, she realized that she knew about God, but did not have her own personal relationship with God. On her knees one evening, she prayed to accept salvation and begin her relationship with her Savior. She began pursuing His plan for her life, and felt joy in knowing that He was a part of everything she did.
At the age of 17 years old, Mrs. Hepler left high school and began a training program to become an administrative assistant so that she could financially help her family. Through this program, she was able to pay for her younger brother and sister to attend college. As she worked during the day, Mrs. Hepler took night classes to graduate from high school and to complete a bachelor’s degree. She was also learning to speak English.
In 1999, a traveling music group from Piedmont Baptist College came to her church in Venezuela. Mrs. Hepler developed a desire to study Bible and Music at the college. Pam Darling was able to connect her with Phyllis Spence who was looking for a caretaker for her parents. In 2001, Mrs. Hepler came to North Carolina and began studying at Piedmont Baptist College. Over the next several years, Mrs. Hepler would complete her degree, get married, struggle with cancer, and have her son. She has worked as an interpreter and as a Spanish teacher, joining Salem’s faculty this summer.
Mrs. Hepler’s testimony illustrates the Sovereignty of God and the importance of following His plan for our lives. As she told our students, what we do with our lives matters. Let’s make decisions with eternity in mind.
“Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men!” - Psalm 31:19