Recovering from Mexico City Earthquake

By Lisa Brownrigg | BridgeWay North American School

Living_Through_the_2017_Mexico_City_Earthquake_BAt 11 a.m. all schools had an earthquake drill in remembrance of the thousands who’d lost their lives in the earthquake in Mexico City on September 19, 1985.

At 11:30 David messaged me that all had gone well at the Mexican Consulate.

At 1:15 my daughter Bridget and I were jolted out of our chairs at school and ran with the others to the park across the street. Under a clear, sunny, blue sky we waited out the massive quake watching the tall pines and palms sway to a wind we couldn’t feel. The weather was giving no warning to the disaster nature was exacting. But the ground was acting like the sea in the midst of a storm. We were on land not water but during an earthquake they feel the same.

We were at Bridget’s school, but I was responsible for BridgeWay and it was miles away. The Internet became spotty and contact with others became difficult. All I could find out was that everyone was safe and that the school was in good shape. Now a new terror began; that of finding our way home after the city was plunged into chaos. Our journey would take us three and one-half hours to complete.

After a harrowing taxi ride and picking our way among downed power lines, debris and dazed people we made it to BridgeWay. Our own apartment had been nearly destroyed so we expected to just stay at the school that night. By 5:30 we thought everyone would be gone but several were still there waiting on a parent who’d been stuck downtown. I was so relieved to see them. One of the teachers immediately offered us apples and water. I was so grateful for that.

Our sub-director, Gina, insisted with a desperate, crazed look in her eye that we stay with someone. “Favi lives right across the street from you!” she cried. “And her house is in good shape or Ana could take you. Becky could take you. She has room. You can’t go back to your apartment. You just can’t,” she went on.

I told her we would go home with someone. Ana found room for us at the ministry center so we went there. My terror was subsiding.

Ana, Annette and R.G., her children went with us to the center. They helped us haul our suitcases through town which was several miles away. So many others were doing the same thing. There was no public transit, only cars and hundreds and hundreds of people on foot with bags and suitcases looking for safety. On their faces I read fear, confusion, shock, and devastation which mirrored mine.

Just as darkness settled across the city, sirens began to blare and helicopters flew low in exponential numbers. I was so grateful to be off the streets when nighttime came. Behind gates and barbed wire, inside the ministry center, Bridget and I listened as the city came undone.

Sometime before dawn a silence befell the city. I’d never heard it that quiet. A few hours after that I could hear airplanes again and held out hope that David would be home soon. Surprisingly David’s flight was on time. He knew we’d had an earthquake, but had no idea how devastating it was until he saw the city from the air. It looked as if there were a thousand fires, he said. The smoke that shrouded the city, however, was not from fires but from plaster dust from hundreds of crumbled buildings.

Living_Through_the_2017_Mexico_City_Earthquake_CThe first thing we decided to do was go to the school to assess the damage. BridgeWay’s school building was in good condition but the eight-story apartment building next to it had a cracking façade that went from top to bottom. Opening school would be impossible until that façade was fixed. The problem was that for the owner of that building the façade was not an emergency. Though pieces of it littered our pre-school play area, it was not their problem.

By Monday, October 2, SEP began breathing down our necks to get school underway. We submitted that to prayer. We had no leverage to get the apartment building owner to begin work nor did we have the money to fix it for them. But God answered. Someone came up with an idea to build an awning that protected the students and staff. Not only that but after

a few days the apartment building owner began work on the façade by scraping off the loose pieces. Thick netting was used to catch any wayward pieces of façade while the awning was being constructed. Though the work would take weeks to complete we opened school 15 days after the quake. We had God’s favor.

David worked seven days a week, 14- to 16-hour days for two weeks straight to get BridgeWay up and running again. It made apartment searching impossible. It was that and the shear dearth of apartments available. I put that situation on the altar too. That was something the Lord could figure out then tell us what the plan was.

As of November 4, David was no longer needed at BridgeWay on the weekends. The awning was done and all repainting was finished.

Weeks have passed and life is blessedly predictable again. We are settled in our new apartment which was a miraculous answer to prayer and we’ve adjusted to our new normal. Though good has come from it, it was mostly a painful experience. I think the fear is still there that came upon me right after the earthquake. But even so, I am looking forward to the future that God has already given.


It Will Surprise You What God Has Done in 2017

By George Durance | TeachBeyond President

The year 2017 was another excellent one for TeachBeyond. There were more projects, more partners, more team members, more countries, more learners, more associates, more national and ethnic groups represented, more resources, and more national offices. In two words, “more more.”

And in a couple more words, without a descriptive context, more is just more and vacuous. Do you remember Elizabeth Browning’s poem, “How do I love thee, let me count the ways…?” She then lists some of the most beautiful statements of love we have in literature. We would never have remembered the poem if she had just said, “How do I love thee? More than ever.” Counting focuses our mind on the specific and concrete and thus grounds generalizations in a way that enables us to understand and celebrate. I think this is why the hymn writer wrote, “Count your many blessings name them one by one.”

Here are a few things from 2017 that come to my mind when I started counting:

  • A teacher became a follower of Christ in SE Asia.
  • A board member unexpectedly “lost” his wife to cancer but didn’t lose his faith or commitment.
  • Four gifted new team members joined the local office in which I am sitting as I write this report.
  • A child came to Christ in Moldova.
  • A new camp was started in Central Asia.
  • Two new schools were started in Central America.
  • Amazing gifts were given for a school project in France.
  • An American university was willing to anchor our graduate program.
  • Six new supervisors were trained for ESL work.
  • Another floor was added to an already impressive school campus in Germany.
  • A Child Protection policy was adopted.
  • Over 100 new full-time members were sent from Canada and the United States.
  • Eight countries sent people to serve in other countries.
  • A beautiful new school building was dedicated in SE Asia.
  • A national leader who had a heart attack is mercifully rejoicing in service today.
  • God is meeting the needs of an employee who needed an extended leave to regain strength.
  • More than ten thousand people gave generously and sacrificially to this ministry because they believed God is using transformational education to draw people to Christ.

…and I have just begun to count.

The hymn writer was right. When we count our blessings at the end of the year, naming them individually, it will surprise us what the Lord has done.” 2017 was the year of the most “surprises” yet and we reverently say, “Praise and glory go to our Father and His Son and to the Spirit who has done all things well.”

Photos: TeachBeyond archives.


Expectations Matter

By Andrea Davis
Special Education Teacher, TeachBeyond Associate

“What is the matter with you? I’ve explained this three different ways. Why are you still having trouble getting it? Maybe math just isn’t for you,” my teacher exhaled exasperatedly as I sat, head in hands, attempting to understand a basic trig lesson. It has been about 17 years, and I still remember the sting of his words, and how, after being an A student until that point, I gave up on math because I was just too stupid to comprehend what everybody else seemed to understand.

Then there was my seventh grade science teacher who absolutely loved science and made all of us love it too. He made complicated topics seem simple and made us feel like mistakes were just part of the fun. Tests were never stressful as we’d come to believe we were capable of learning and comprehending every aspect of his class. He never raised his voice in anger; he never sighed in annoyance at having to reteach a lesson; he never rolled his eyes at a wrong answer. What he did, instead, was expect that every kid that walked into his classroom was capable of being successful, and he did everything in his power to make that a reality. It has been over twenty years, but I will never forget how he made me feel powerful and capable of just about anything.

Proverbs 18:21a says, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” What we say (and do) as teachers matters. If we believe that a child can be successful and express that in our words and actions, a child is likely to believe us. The opposite is true as well. When we roll our eyes at a child’s mistakes, sigh impatiently, or refuse to reteach the material a new or different way “because I’ve already taught it more times than I wanted to,” the child in front of us might just hear, “You’re not worth my time. You’re never going to understand this material anyway. Just give up.”

QuoteExpectations matter. Our attitudes matter. Teaching is exhausting. There is always more to do than you have time for. But we have to remember that what we say and do can change a child’s life for better…or worse.

I work at a school for students with autism, most of whom are with us because they have been unsuccessful in other programs within their home district. They come to us because they have violent outbursts, modesty issues, or a variety of other concerns that cause them great difficult within a traditional learning environment. They have been shuttled from one teacher to another, from one school to another. They’ve been told that they’re bad, too hard to manage, and just not worth the effort. They carry themselves in a way that says, “You’re not going to like me either.”

On my first day in this job, a little boy bit me on the back of my arm, kicked my shins, pinched my breasts, and threw a table in my general direction. I sobbed to my husband that there was no way that I could make an impact in this kid’s life, especially after what I’d heard about him. He’d been at this school for several years and “No one could manage or control him. It was just too hard.”

My husband reminded me of two principles that I’d always clung to as a teacher: your expectations for the student matter, and it’s important that he knows you’ll like him no matter how bad he is.  My teaching assistant and I decided that we would choose grace and mercy for this child every single day, no matter what his behavior. We would praise him for his positive choices, correct him when he chose poorly, and continue to like him through it all. We spent months managing this student’s aggression, teaching him to communicate through signs or visual aids, and showing him that no matter how “bad” he was, neither of us was going anywhere. After about 14 months, this boy began sitting in a chair, doing work independently, communicating in his limited fashion, refraining from aggression, laughing, and showing his true potential to learn. Our behavior specialist asked him why he was suddenly successful in our classroom and his response was pretty simple: “They like me.”

Expectations matter. They matter for students like me, an A student struggling in trigonometry; they matter for students with extreme learning challenges, students that people have seemingly discarded because “they’re just too difficult.”

When we behave like Jesus in our classrooms—picking our students up when they fall, choosing grace over exasperated eye-rolling, loving them when they just aren’t likeable, and believing that they are more capable than they think they are (especially with our help)—our kids thrive, no matter what other challenges they face. When we choose love, grace, and high expectations, we are choosing life for our students. That’s what transformational education is really about.

Featured image by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Calling All Teachers

‘Give me the children until they are seven, and anyone may have them afterwards.’ Saint Francis Xavier
‘Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.’ Proverbs 22:6

By David Midwinter
Director, TeachBeyond UK

The importance of teaching children was emphasised to the Israelites.  Deuteronomy 11: 18-19 says, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Unsurprisingly, in the light of this, the creation of schools has been at the forefront of mission activity across the world. Christians have been heavily involved in education provision and the need is just as great today as it has ever been. In 1811, the Church of England created the National Society with the aim of having a school in every parish, and during the colonial era missionaries started schools in many countries.

Educating children well is a responsibility of all parents. Many missionaries rely on international Christian schools to educate their children and this enables them to serve abroad in whatever role they have been called by God to do. However, the challenge for many of these schools is finding teachers. Where are the teachers God is calling to this incredibly important task?

It is no easy challenge to leave home and family to go abroad and teach, and this is made harder when support raising is also required. The church needs to rise to this challenge and help to send out those who are called. We should not make them feel embarrassed to ask for support. This is a worthy calling. It is an opportunity for those who are called to stay at home to contribute to the work God is doing abroad.

In my own mission, TeachBeyond UK, there are also increasing opportunities for Christians to teach in schools for nationals where many children have no Christian background. This is a different challenge but a very exciting one. It is a great opportunity to live the gospel daily with the children in your charge. For those who feel they are unable to raise support there is often some salary available with these roles.

Education is a wonderful vehicle for sharing God’s love and preparing children for life. The best education involves transformation of the heart as well as the mind so if you are a teacher, why not teach abroad? If you are not a teacher share this with someone who is.

This article originally appeared on GC Connect, the website of Global Connections, a network UK agencies, churches, colleges, and support services helping UK churches achieve their goals in global missions.

Photo by Capturing the Human Heart on


That’s Why We’re Here

By Ellen Kujawski
Teacher, Arbor Christian Academy

Arbor Christian Academy is a life-changing place. I’ve been so blessed to be a part of this school from the beginning. It’s been a challenging journey, but God is doing AMAZING work here. One of my students is a beautiful example.

C has the best smile. He is shy and a bit reserved, but packed inside of that kindergarten body is the most inquisitive student I have ever met. Researching various topics during snack time quickly became routine in our classroom, so I wasn’t surprised when he started asking about the Bible we were reading each day.

One afternoon, C asked if we could read the Bible together. He sat on the carpet looking through story after story, asking question after question. Almost 40 forty minutes later, I found myself explaining the death and resurrection of Jesus in terms I never imagined using with a 5-year-old. His questions were astounding, hitting hard theological topics that I struggle with myself. God clearly put the words in my mouth.

After hearing the truth, I asked C if he had ever asked Jesus to forgive him and live inside of him. His response broke my heart. “My dad knows Jesus, but he doesn’t have time to tell me about Him.” As tears clouded my eyes, I joyfully explained how he could have a personal relationship with God. And minutes later, C was eager to ask God to forgive his sins and live with him forever.

This is why Arbor Christian Academy is here—the students are eager to hear the truth, all they need is a place where someone can tell them.

You can help students make the transformational decision to follow Jesus. Find the job and school at this link.


Let’s respond with hope!

FATEB Kinshasa Academy is a new Christian School opened in 2015 by TeachBeyond in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. The DRC is a country with a history of conflict. For a whole decade, war has simply eroded the fabric of the national economy. Education, regarded as the fundamental driver of development, is currently at the bottom of the ladder. Children are virtually abandoned to fate. Teachers no longer give of their best because they are totally unmotivated by insufficient pay. Despite such realities, we can never lose hope. For, as the saying goes, it is never late to improve.

In the DRC, TeachBeyond is ushering in a new way of living, an appreciation of what it means to be Christian in all aspects of life. With this firm basis, our teachers enjoy working in the TeachBeyond school in Kinshasa and give their very best.

I love this verse in Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV): “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” This is a word of encouragement that God himself gives us for the realities we may encounter throughout our lives. The Lord is always there to guide our path.

FKA---Training-BPersonally, I regard the teacher as a coach leading their team to final victory. Those who are learning—i.e., students—are equipped not only to pass exams but also to succeed in their future lives. They will then grow to become responsible persons in their country. If the teacher believes in his students in the classroom, he should be alongside them at all stages of the learning process and, most importantly, love them. This is what we strive to live every day at school. Writer James Baldwin said, “Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” The teacher who loves his/her students and prays for each of them will essentially succeed in what he or she does.

I often speak to parents who drop off and fetch their children at school. I pray with them. I share with them a Bible verse of the week which has helped me. Parents really feel encouraged and love the school for what we represent—not only for their children, but also for themselves as parents. A new parent said to me, “Mr. Héritier, I am so pleased to drop my children off at FKA. Once I’m in the school grounds, I don’t really want to go home because of the great atmosphere in the school.” Another parent related what her 3-year-old daughter had said. At home the child told her, “Mama, do you know it was God who created us? We should love Him every day for what He has done for us.” The child shared this because she had learned it at school. I am so proud to see and hear how God can do things like this with children, who become little preachers to their parents at home.

It’s precisely the little things we teach children that transform their lives little by little. That is why we must continue to teach children, while responding with the hope that we will see lives transformed to the glory of the Lord.

May my fellow heads and teachers at TeachBeyond schools around the world who have time to read these words, maintain HOPE and persevere. Regardless of the passage of time, transformation is always possible for the believer. FATEB Kinshasa is a small light at the end of the tunnel in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Together we maintain Hope.

To God be the glory!

Translated from French by Clive Phillips


Eagles Soar in Brazil

By Erlo Aurich
TeachBeyond Brazil

Family and education are the foundations for the healthy growth of the next generation. TeachBeyond Brazil has created the “Eagle Project,” an integrated program for transformation with the goal of strengthening the family.

The pilot project offers many after-school activities for children and adolescents, as well as discussion and implementation workshops for the families. The project operates at three levels: Eagle in the School, Eagle in the Nest, and Eagle in Feast.

Eagle in the School provides many after-school activities for children and adolescents once a week at TeachBeyond Brazil’s office in Gramado. These include personal and collective play and cooperation, as well as artistic and vocational activities.

Eagle in the Nest is a monthly workshop with parents, tutors, and the project team.

Eagle in Feast is a family festival held twice a year where parents, children, and teachers can interact as a large group.

The TeachBeyond team believes the weekly meetings create a warm, receptive environment to develop in children the desire to live for God and share His love with others. “We help these children internalize biblical values and truths through cooperation-oriented play and activities,” said Erlo Aurich, public relations director of TeachBeyond Brazil. “At the end of the Eagle session we talk about what they’ve learned that day, where we often build bridges to Bible stories and characters.”

At the end of the year, the gospel is very clearly presented through art, theatre or other evangelistic presentation with the goal of transforming lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. Being an Eagle means renewal and risk-taking. It challenges every child and teenager in their first flights out of the nest, coming alongside them as they feel insecurity or fear. Parents and group leaders give the Eagles the necessary “push” for their wings to open and embrace a universe of possibilities as they grow in their relationship with the Lord.

Here are some activities of the Eagle Project. Click photo to enlarge.


Refugee Kids Need Classrooms

By Julian Richter
Communications Specialist|TeachBeyond

You see them in the news: children living in refugee camps, bewildered by being uprooted from homes, sometimes without family members. One thing you rarely see is a classroom or any kind of education in the camps. We are hoping to change that through TeachBeyond Borders, an initiative to assemble short-term, quick-response teams that can go to areas where refugees are living and provide education for all ages from elementary school to English classes for adults.

“TeachBeyond Borders grows out of our vision to take the gospel through education to where God would open doors,” said Howard Dueck, Latin America director and the director for this Informal Education service. Andrew and Liz Steggall-Lewis (pictured above on a survey trip), Harold Klassen, David Durance, and others joined him in the task force that prepared the Beyond Borders (as it’s called internally) proposal for the TeachBeyond cabinet.

Liz, the Beyond Borders coordinator, is an MK who grew up in the Middle East and graduated from Black Forest Academy. She and Andrew have a heart for working with refugees. “I feel at home among refugees,” she said. “Being an MK, I understand what it’s like to feel displaced although on a very different scale. Refugee children have experienced tremendous trauma, loss, and uprootedness. I believe education is a vital tool for providing hope for the future and improved well-being. It opens the door to the gospel and can be used to build bridges.”

Refugee Camps Need Schools

During an exploratory trip for the task force, Liz and Andrew visited a camp with several thousand residents that had one small tent and one UNHCR staffer trying to run activities and educational programs for children. “The staffer asked us to please come and help,” Liz said. “Every NGO staffer we talked to asked us to come and start schools. The teams of relief workers who go to the camps help with food, clothing, and shelter – the basic needs. Education is not on their agenda. It is not their expertise.”

Liz and Howard are in conversation with more than 10 relief organizations to find a way to bring an educational piece to the NGO efforts in the camps. The first group Beyond Borders is working with is Trans Asia Partnership, based in Niverville, Manitoba. It has set up 23 “prayer and health centers” in Syria and Iraq near refugee camps, and many of its workers are Christians from a Muslim background. It also prints and distributes Bibles in five languages in seven countries to support the discipleship of new believers.

They also are investigating the possibility of running English camps in Greece in the summer of 2018. Liz explained that Beyond Borders is developing a model program that will be operated outside the refugee camps by teams of volunteers who staff the education centers for the duration of a tourist visa. By operating outside the camp boundaries, the schools have more freedom to incorporate a biblical worldview in their lessons than if they were under the direction of a UN agency. The Middle East is just the tip of the iceberg for educational needs among refugee children. Asia, Africa, and South America have needs, too. One organization in discussion with Beyond Borders works with displaced children in Guatemala.

“We have to consider how these children will end up in a few years,” Howard said. “Some are calling them a lost generation. There is a need for a long-term solution for their education.”

Beyond Borders is working on that solution, one that opens the way for the gospel to reach a vulnerable population. Interested in a short-term assignment with Beyond Borders? Send an email to You can financially support the work with Trans Asia Partnership by giving at this web page:

Below: Liz and Andrew Steggall-Lewis look toward the coast of Turkey from the island of Lesvos, across a passage of water traversed by many refugees.



Global Church Can Aid Education

By Mission Network News

This story is based on a podcast interview with TeachBeyond President George Durance about the global learning crisis and how the church and respond. Click on this link to hear the podcast.

Recently the UN released a statistic that six out of ten children in the world aren’t meeting levels of proficiency in learning. The details of this statistic were recently outlined by BBC News.

Learning Across the Globe

“In the economically disadvantaged parts of the world, there is an absolute crisis in education…we really do have a crisis on our hands, a global crisis. And it’s the responsibility of the Church,” TeachBeyond’s President George Durance explains.

“The local people are keenly aware of what’s going on. I think we have to get over our patronizing attitude and realize that the local people are appalled at that issue there and many of our church leaders are,” Durance says.

MNN-education-crisis-Nov-2017“They are doing their very best to address the issue and this is where those in the international community, the global Church, can come alongside and really give them a boost.”

More Than Resources

But the need for resources for education is only a portion of the problem. The learning gap has to be approached with a holistic solution. One of the problems is poverty. And poverty, as Durance puts it, creates a poor learning environment.

“There is a sense in which I think one would say it’s not primarily a spiritual issue in the sense that there’s some biblical error or truth that is in error here or missing. It’s rather that we need to see the biblical Christian worldview permeating the educational endeavor that’s taking place.”

A Biblical Response

In other words, we can’t assume that if people would just follow the Bible’s teachings, it would fix the problem. Durance believes there’s a bit more to being a part of the solution to this education problem while sharing Jesus.

“It’s about the way in which a child comes into a classroom and sees the care and love, the prayer, the understanding that the world around them is orderly and God is sovereign.

And just as the education problems needs a holistic fix, it would seem that sharing the Gospel’s truths with kids and families also needs a holistic approach. They need to experience Christ’s love in the classroom, not just Bible teachings. In other words, these people need to see the Bible’s truths lived out by Christians in the classroom.

Get Involved

So, how can we help?

Well, start by praying. Ask God to raise up more holistic Christian educators who have compassionate hearts for the world’s most needy. Ask God if he wants you to be part of the solution, too. Pray for the families who’ve relocated because of a crisis, for God to meet their needs and help them to adapt.

Durance also says there’s room for hundreds to go abroad. “We have many other organizations that are also seeking to do this. It’s not about Teach Beyond, it’s not our corner or anything like that.

“But there is a unique open door for us now to help the Church in the less privileged areas of the world address this problem; to work through the Church there because the Church gets it. They are in position and in this way we can integrate the educational revolution that we’re calling for, into the whole Church growth movement that exists in these countries.”


This story first appeared on the Mission Network News website –

Photos: Wikimedia Commons, Pixabay


Prairie Bible College Distinguished Alumni

Bev and George are pictured at left with others who received the 2017 Distinguished Alumni awards, Graham Watt (center), and Dr. Lorne Rabuka with his wife, Doris.

TeachBeyond President George Durance has been honored with the Prairie Bible College Distinguished Alumni award. George graduated from Prairie Bible College in 1973 and continued on to earn degrees in biblical studies, history and education. His PhD is from the University of Durham, UK.

He taught high school social studies in Calgary, Alberta, before moving to Germany to teach at Black Forest Academy. As principal and later, director, he led BFA through a major expansion of their facilities.

George returned to Canada in 1997 to become the president of Ambrose University College. During his 12-year tenure, he not only helped reposition the school as a liberal arts university, but also relocated it to another province and built a new campus. His distinguished service earned him the honorary title of Ambrose President Emeritus. In addition to this honor, Toccoa Falls College in Georgia previously presented him with the Distinguished Contribution to Higher Education award, and he was awarded the Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005 in recognition of his leadership and contributions to the educational community.

As president of TeachBeyond, he has helped cast a new vision and has seen the work grow significantly.

A former member of Prairie’s Board of Directors, George is married to Beverley and they have three married children and ten grandchildren.