A God-Sized Project
Oct 6, 2019 | by Nancy Newbrough
More than a decade ago, a Christian couple from a predominantly Christian Asian nation answered God’s call to move with their children to another Asian nation -- one that is almost exclusively another world religion. How do you even begin to share the Gospel under such hostile circumstances? Prayer, prayer and more prayer!
Every step of their journey has been orchestrated by God moving in miraculous ways. The couple’s initial work was helping people disenfranchised by the recent civil war. They started sewing co-ops among the war widows, cared for the orphans, and led former insurgents to grow legal cash crops rather than the traditional marijuana. Thus, close relationships were built with the former rebels who eventually became the prevailing political party.
The wife, experienced in running a school, felt God leading her to do the same in this nation. She shared her desire with a new acquaintance. That person responded, “You need to meet my friend who wants to start a school but does not have the experience.” That friend, a member of the nation’s world religion, had important connections. Together they decided to start an international school for children from all countries and religions.
The first major hurdle was a suitable building. The campus itself is a virtual miracle -- it is one of the original estates of a former ruler of that region. Besides the traditional house, there is a substantial building that once was government offices. They were able to secure a long-term lease because of the co-founder’s government connections.
The school was started in 2009 with 25 students in grades K-3. Ten years later, there are 300+ students and more than 40 teachers in grades K-6. Students are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu. The school is accredited by the Department of Education in the province.
But there have been challenges to overcome! For seven years, ten of the teachers came from the couple’s original country. However, immigration began targeting these teachers with visa issues. Today the wife and her husband have secure working consultation visas that allow them to remain in the country without suspicion. But only one other teacher from the original country currently has a visa.
How does a startup school gain excellence? Between 2010-2013, a very talented member of The Fellowship went for two weeks each year to bring onsite teacher enrichment training. Today that enrichment is provided on-line each month from a church in Colorado. This has moved the teachers from using the rote method of instruction to creative teaching strategies. Teachers who show interest are given opportunities to travel to three other Asian countries for broader cultural and educational experiences.
In recent years, students from the school have won both provincial as well as international competitions! They have placed 1st or 2nd in singing, storytelling, dance and art. A visiting American who witnessed the performance of a 1st place storyteller was both fascinated and amazed to hear the student speak in perfect English.
How are Kingdom purposes being advanced in this school? As an extracurricular activity, Christian students sing, pray, and study the Bible. Students from other religions can join in if allowed by their parents – and many do. Praise God for working that out!
Each year brings a Christmas party for the Christian students, and all the teachers are invited to attend and bring friends. There the message of Christmas is clearly presented.
As befits an international school, an annual United Nations Celebration of Countries is held. Including Israel as one of the countries became a controversy. The Christian co-founder of the school said, “If there is no Israel, there is no celebration!” Israel is included!
Many of the parents are leaders in government, education and business. The opportunity to speak into the lives of these influencers is truly a God-given gift!
This year has been an exciting one! In April, a school-to-school partnership was signed with the couple’s home nation. This led to full international accreditation for the school in July with the grade of A – a major achievement and answer to prayer! It brings more opportunities for students and teachers to travel abroad and gain exposure to the much bigger world God has created! A top-ranking educational group that visited recently highly commended the school as an example of multiculturalism, unity and diversity.
As the school and its reputation continue to grow, more space is needed. This year a new two-story building was added using repurposed shipping containers!
The school’s annual report last year cites Revelation 3:7a: “The Lord says that ‘what He opens, no one can close; and what He closes, no one can open.’” Indeed, God has opened many doors of opportunity for the school that no one has been able to shut or to hinder it from prospering. Only the Lord could have imagined using a poor, obedient couple to lead such a God-sized project. It remains a place where teachers and students have the opportunity to learn about and respond to the Gospel.
Would you pray now for the school -- and the opportunity and courage to boldly share the Gospel with students, teachers, parents and local government leaders; for protection from spiritual attacks; for no visa issues; and for regular rest to prevent burnout and discouragement for the Christian couple who followed God’s prompting to start the school.
Great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds.