Coach brings South American experiences to the classroom


Coach Devisscher teaches to the students of his Spanish I class.

The paddle dips in and out of the murky river water as the sun beats down. Time passes more slowly here. It’s a slower pace of life, and Daniel Devisscher loves it.

Coach D, as he is called, is a Spanish teacher at LHS. However, he brings more to the classroom than one might imagine. He brings experiences from his travels to bring other cultures to life for his students.
Out of high school, Devisscher went to Mary-Hardin Baylor and played basketball for one year. After a year at TJC, he got accepted to Texas A&M for a year. While working towards the degree he wanted, Devisscher was trying to figure out what he could do with it.

“At Texas A&M I studied anthropology, which is the holistic study of human beings,” Devisscher said. “I knew it was something I was passionate about, and I wanted to apply that into missions. I was more interested in social cultural processes, like how ideas transfer from one culture to another or how if you have a new idea, how do you insert it into that culture so that it is culturally acceptable and sustainable.”

The semester before Devisscher graduated, he took a trip to Peru for a project called Epic Quest. Part of the program included locating a native story teller who knew Bible stories in order to bring them to an area that had electricity so they could be recorded in the native tongue of that region.

“We had to go out and we would have a little picture . . . with his name,” Devisscher said. “It would tell us the area within several thousands of miles of jungle where they could live, so we just had to go out and try to find them. That was the challenge.”

There are endless stories that Devisscher has from the jungle, varying from searching for certain native peoples, to living among them.

“One time we were going down the river and we were passing by just a random [person] on another ‘peki peki’, which was a dugout canoe that [they] use,” Devisscher said. “So we were in a dugout canoe going one way and [he] was coming in a dugout canoe going the other way and it just so happened to be the person we were looking for– Alejandro. We told him we were going to do the Bible translation, and he said he had been waiting for about 12 years for that to happen. He was so excited.”

While working in the jungle, Devisscher caught dengue fever, also known as bone crushing fever. Because he was too far from any type of medical help, he tried to just deal with it, but eventually had to go back to Lima to get the medical attention he needed.

“I had a fever that was probably up around 108 or higher,” Devisscher said. “I was delusional– things were moving, I couldn’t understand words. When people would talk in English to me the words would come out of their mouth but would drop off into syllables or sounds. Everybody sounded kinda like Charlie Brown, it was just all a jumbled mess, people looked like they were 10 feet tall, and really really skinny. It was really strange”

While recovering from his 60-80 pound weight loss, Devisscher found an old friend named Pablo. Originally the two had met during an Athletes in Action trip Devisscher took after his first year of college. Before going back into the jungle, Pablo took him to play basketball at San Marcos University. While there, Devisscher and the guys with him gave their testimonies, and three basketball players gave their lives to the Lord.

“While we were there i just felt that the Lord put on my heart that I was supposed to tell them about Jesus,” Devisscher said. “People in the city look at the indians in Peru kind of differently kind of like the uneducated, the outcasts, just in the way. So we started talking to them about how much we cared about them and what and why we were doing that.”

To complete his last class at A&M, Devisscher came back to the states for one semester. Once finished, he sold everything but his truck, and moved back to Peru. There he and his friends met a local pastor named Pepe Selem and together they set up a sports ministry and helped plant a church. to help reach out to people, Devisscher and some others tried out for professional basketball at Ricardo Palma University, and he made the team.

“This team had a professional team, and they also gave us jobs, so I was an English teacher for my first year ever,” Devisscher said. “I was just real young and had never done it before, but how hungry the students were to learn English and to compete for jobs is pretty impressive, so that was a really motivational factor for me and helped me to appreciate my education.”

One morning Devisscher and some of his friends went to the beach to baptize Pablo and surf. While he was there, a group of girls was also there, one of whom caught his eye.

“I met my wife on January 28 of 2005; that was the first time I ever saw her,” Devisscher said. “I just remember thinking, ‘That woman is absolutely beautiful–she is just so gorgeous,’ and three months later I asked her to marry me.”

Devisscher is currently a basketball coach and Spanish teacher at LHS. He has three children and works with missions when he can.