ICEC conference at BFA

One RA’s take on Spring Break 2016

Spring break began with the International Christian Educators Conference (ICEC), hosted by Black Forest Academy. Delegates from schools in 32 countries gathered on our campus for a weekend of professional development, worship, and mutual encouragement. What a joy to join with representatives of the nations in the common goal of making Jesus known through education! It was especially fun to reconnect with friends from Kenya (where I went to school and where my parents still work). These worlds-colliding moments remind me how rich my life is!

After ICEC, I traveled with a small group of other RAs on a vision trip to Thailand (where I actually got to connect with several more friends from Kenya!). The purpose of the trip—led by a ResLife staff member who’d formerly lived in Thailand—was to expand global ministry vision by visiting a range of ministry opportunities. For all but our leader, this was our first time in Asia, so the trip’s secondary purpose was to encounter Thai culture and see how God is working in this particular context.

We visited two ministries that offer member care for missionaries and also spent time with a number of other people doing unique ministries with impact on MKs, college students, Thais, and others. For example, M— is working in business to provide employment alternatives for Thai women: building relationships and eventually sharing the gospel with them. Her joy in an incredibly difficult setting was so inspiring. Since M– is an alumna of a BFA dorm, we were encouraged as RAs that we never know how God will eventually use the students in our care. Our investment matters!

Spring break may have been a break from the usual routine, but it was full of experiences that challenged my thinking and opened my eyes to how God is working in the world. I learned that I cannot begin to respond to all the world’s needs, but I can live fully and freely into who God’s made me to be, doing that one thing in that one place He’s called me, for His glory and the world’s healing and joy.

– Elizabeth L.

Photo of ICEC at BFA courtesy of Sam Hallberg, Black Forest Academy.

 

Refugee-Visit-to-Freiburg-Cathedral

Refugees in Germany Explore Their New Home

The first cultural day trip by TeachBeyond Germany with the refugees housed in the former BFA Blauen dorm in Marzell was a resounding success. It was a Saturday full of new impressions and relaxing fellowship in beautiful Freiburg.

Refugee-Visit-to-Freiburg---restaurantIt started with an inclined-plane railway ride to the Schlossberg, a hill overlooking the city, to view Freiburg and its surroundings from above. Then the 16 Syrians and four Bosnians from Haus Blauen listened to an explanation by TeachBeyond member Benjamin Rudolph about why people build cathedrals. They heard in English, Arabic and German about the rise of Christianity and the work of Jesus on the Cross with reference to some of the colorful mosaics and stained-glass windows within the Freiburg cathedral. They learned about the lighting of memorial candles before climbing the steps to the cathedral tower.

They could not pass the open-air farmers’ market surrounding the cathedral without spending some money on the delicious food.

Natalie Rudolph, another TeachBeyond member who planned the trip as a practical part of the integration training, led the group to Augustinerplatz, a plaza in the pedestrian zone where young people gather in the summer, and explained the “pillar of tolerance.” This 9-foot-tall light column changes color from green to yellow to red at 11 p.m. to signal the start of “quiet hours” when music and noise must end. Thus, the refugees learned about the German noise ordinance.

After a few hours of free time, the group met for dinner at the Martinsbräu restaurant. It was a wonderful day that brought all closer together and furthered the integration process. One of the refugees commented, “Natalie and Susanne, you’re both more than social workers for us. You’re real sisters.” Yes, our God unites the nations – is that not wonderful!? (ist das nicht wunderbar!?)

Benny-and-Bjorn

Merging Theology and Innovation

by Björn Wagner
TeachBeyond Germany

They seem an odd couple: Theology and Innovation. The former seems a little too “boring” and the latter maybe a little too much like “parting from orthodoxy.” For years, the number of theology graduates has been declining. Innovation, on the other hand, thrives.

TeachBeyond Germany is breaking new ground with a merger of both. TeachBeyond Germany member Benjamin Rudolph spearheaded the LEAP Network in Europe with the aim of impacting relevant Christian organizations and networks through transformational education for church planters and youth ministry workers. TeachBeyond Germany is calling this new initiative the Department of Theology and Innovation.

During the last TeachBeyond leadership summit, Rudolph explained why this new name would benefit the cause of TeachBeyond. Theology must proclaim the eternal message of God in new and creative – innovative – ways if it wants to affect church and society. Research and development are central to the day-to-day work of Björn Wagner and Benjamin Rudolph (pictured above), co-directors of the Department of Theology and Innovation. Rudolph is about to complete his master’s degree in Old Testament Studies, while Wagner is aiming for a doctorate in Missiology.

In addition to Rudolph and Wagner, the department has Richard Moore and Curtis Coston, who complete the picture in terms of educating church planters and missional youth workers both regionally and nationally. This team believes that “Innovation and Theology” are not only a perfect pairing, but an expression of God’s missional, sending heart.

Sound theology combined with outside-the-box thinking and practice can reform, inform, and innovate theological education and impact society through educating church planters and a new generation of missionaries to the West.

Leighton Helwig Philippines Director

TeachBeyond Registers In The Philippines

TeachBeyond recently become a legal entity in the Philippines. Now that we are registered, we can begin the process of opening up an office. Philippines National Director Leighton Helwig (pictured above) is working out of his home office, but the office will eventually be at a different location.

TeachBeyond Philippines currently has five main ministry projects:

  • Faith Academy: a pre-K to grade 12 school in Manila, serving MKs, TCKs, and national students
  • Faith International Academy: a K-12, MK school in Dava
  • Pag-asa Orphanage School: providing orphan education
  • The Docent Initiative: providing theological education
  • English camps

TeachBeyond members Carl and Claire Miller, Steve Pardue, Kelly Crandall, Beth Potter, and Leighton Helwig are the current members of the Philippine National Council. As our ministry grows in the Philippines, we will add more members.

We are so excited to see what God is going to do through TeachBeyond in the Philippines. Please continue to pray for our members as they develop policies, set up procedures, and open up the office. Pray, too, for the Transformational Education Conference they will be hosting in June.

Leighton Helwig
Philippines National Director

Turkey seen from beach on Lesvos - Marcy Pusey

Warmly Welcoming Refugees

“Welcome!” TeachBeyond member Marcy Pusey and a team of students and staff from Black Forest Academy are spending their spring break in a refugee processing center on the Greek island of Lesvos (Lesbos) doing humanitarian work among refugees. This photo shows the body of water refugees cross from Turkey in the distance. Here is Marcy’s moving account of helping cold, wet women and children who are seeking shelter.

It’s 9:30am and we are finally getting to bed.

We had an overnight shift at a large refugee processing center. Around 2 am, we were told that a raft of refugees arrived. At 3:30 am we had not one, but two raft-loads of newly escaped refugees in our care. About 100 people.

Life vest refugee story Mary PuseyThey were soaking wet, freezing, and yet so patient as they wound through lines that offered hot tea, blankets, sleeping mats, and our tent… Dry clothes. My job was to greet them as they came in and help them find the right line. I said, “welcome!” Smiled a lot, got babies and children to smile, and used a lot of sign language.

To one woman with a baby and very young daughter, I did the same and said, “You made it.” She began to cry. I gave her a hug and she said over and over, “thank you.” So. Many. Children.

My team was incredible. Served all through the night. In our exhaustion we laughed until we hurt and promised to forget everything said in our delirious state. But we won’t forget clothing the wet in dry clothes and shoes, offering warm food, blankets, and smiling to desperate, desperate people. As we left in the morning, two of the little girls we clothed in the middle of the night recognized our faces and ran up and hugged us. Wow!

Many miracles… One is that I STILL don’t feel the tiredness I should. I felt more awake this night than I do most days. I know without a doubt that I am experiencing a supernatural sustenance of energy. Praise the Lord!!!! Thank you for your prayers. My half of the team starts a 12 hour night shift in less than 9 hours. Please pray for continued stamina!

TeachBeyond Institute Flyer Philippines 2016

Attend Our Conference In The Philippines

If you are seeking ways to grow in faith and impact your community through the transformational power of the Holy Spirit, this is the conference for you.

In the mornings we will explore issues surrounding transformational education and intercultural adaptation to help you advance your personal and professional impact for Christ.

Afternoons will start with interactive case studies followed by sessions in the learning track of your choice. We are committed to the transformation of the whole person, so in addition to interactive sessions, you’ll find opportunities for networking and relationship-building with fellow educators, as well as time for personal reflection.

Click here to register.

Megan-and-Mary-Lou-Beall

Associates Are Vital to TeachBeyond’s Ministry

Associate missionaries are a vital resource in TeachBeyond’s mission to take transformational education to places where the life-changing message of the Gospel is needed. They do short-term or occasional service in various areas of need.

While we were meeting in Mexico City, we (the TeachBeyond board members) talked about challenges, potential partnerships, and shared and prayed together. We reflected on the miracles already experienced, and those still needed.

One of the miracles involves two of our associate colleagues, Mary Lou and Megan. Mary Lou was instrumental in starting a school in Colombia years ago. Now well into retirement age, she travels with her daughter (who is fluent in Spanish) to help our projects in different places. They are helping with all the legwork for the BridgeWay North American School start-up in Mexico City. What an incredible blessing they both are, writing and translating documents, organizing meetings with local authorities, helping find a property, buying supplies, and helping in many other ways.

We are blessed to see God providing in ways like this as we prepare to offer schoolchildren in Mexico City a warm, welcoming environment where lessons are infused with a biblical worldview.

Howard Dueck
Vice President of Human Resources

residents-of-Blauen

Education and Transformation in Germany

As an educational institution that is founded on Christian principles, TeachBeyond Deutschland had to answer the question, “How can we let the refugees in our area feel that they have value and are loved by God and us?”

The answer resulted in three projects:

1. Housing and a program to integrate refugees into the community are provided in the former Black Forest Academy Blauen dorm in Marzell. Many of the Syrian and Bosnian refugees speak English, and some speak a little German. They are families, married couples, and siblings. “Some are outgoing, some restrained by bad experiences, but we are so grateful for everyone and look forward to using the time together to learn from and with each other,” said Susanne Seywald, TeachBeyond’s director of refugee ministry. The German social service agency is helping them register for citizenship and school. They have an escort team that helps them understand the culture as they settle into their new home.

2. In cooperation with one of the larger refugee associations of the region, a tutorial program is being developed so that refugees can become familiar with important aspects of everyday life in Germany. This should help them better cope in German society. “We see that expectations of German workers, officials, and caregivers often cannot be met, because people from different cultural backgrounds have no knowledge of the rules of our society. Everyday situations that we handle in the normal course of life are ones that they cannot handle,” Seywald said. The recurring topics that have emerged from difficult interactions with German society are the basis for the tutorial program.

3. A key part of the integration of refugees is their entry into the labor market. To accomplish this, we are teaching them how to write a resumé, write letters and emails, and search the Internet for jobs. Many have never before used a computer. We started weekly computer classes in an encouraging learning environment, and teach the young people how to be safe online.

Amani rainforest followup blog

Living a life that’s noticeably different

by Christina Finocchi
Haven of Peace Academy, Tanzania

My class is writing about their greatest memory from our trip to the Amani rainforest in Tanzania. It is delightful to read about their individual highlights, and see how unique the experience was for each of them. My highlight came in a different form. I thoroughly loved the hike up Mbomole Hill, exploring the rain forest’s night life, and descending to the waterfall, but my true joy came at the end of our trip. My true joy was really an unexpected life lesson.

Wednesday night, our final night, was spent enjoying a campfire with marshmallows, worship, and devotion. I found the weather to be quite unique for a campfire. We were in the midst of a thick cloud (fog) and a nice mist. After devotions, I released my students to go and write in their journals, and many of them chose to go write where the hot tea was, under the eating banda. I stayed and enjoyed the fire a bit longer before going to check on the group.

I arrived to find them sipping on tea and quietly reflecting in their journals. For my teacher friends, this is not an exaggeration, my students were sipping hot tea and willing writing in journals. I think it was the atmosphere of the rain forest that had them so inspired!

Amani rainforest followup 2Soon after I had gotten to them, I felt the wind shift drastically and the temperature drop. I was fairly certain we were about to get rain and a lot of it! I quickly told all of my students to head for their tents immediately because I wanted them in their tents before it started to rain. They grabbed their journals and went.

I decided to stay for a moment and clean up what was left from their quick departure. Little did I know that God’s providence over the weather was going to mean a divine appointment from Him. As I was cleaning, one of the managers appeared out of what seemed to be nowhere. We began to talk about how our visit had gone and the highlights of the trip. Then the conversation shifted, quite like the weather that was now very calm. The gentleman shared with me something that really brought joy to my heart as a teacher.

He shared how happy he was that our group came out to Emau Hill. It had been a long time since he had seen and met people and children that were so genuinely living for God. It was inspiring that the children were eager to pray personally and openly for meals and each other. He could tell that there was a real love for Jesus and each other, as well as caring, compassionate hearts in each of them. He expressed a deep appreciation that these qualities are being fostered in our students and that they rose up to living their life in this way. This was something that he needed to see and be a part of for his own spiritual walk.

Our conversation and opportunity to minister continued for several more moments before we parted and went our separate ways. As I walked down to my cabin, I knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be at that time, and that the encouraging words I had the opportunity to share were from the Lord.

The unexpected lesson: We were at this camp, in Amani rainforest, to learn and explore. We were rather secluded up there with mainly workers and staff as our only contact, other than each other. I will be honest, we didn’t go up thinking about who we could minister to. We went about our daily lives being ourselves! We prayed throughout the day, we had daily devotions, and we lived each day as if it were our normal daily lives with a rain forest twist. In the midst of being who God made us to be, we were light to a heart that needed tending and we ministered simply by our actions.

I fully know we are to be conscience of ministry opportunities and generally I will say that we do look for them, but my reality check was that God used us to minister and be light when my students were just being children and living life the way they were taught to live. Their genuine hearts shone through, their love for Jesus was evident, and their good works brought glory to God, and in this instance the ministering just came so naturally. I thought to myself, “Aren’t our lives supposed to naturally reflect this light and minister to the broken?” When we focus our attention on Jesus that is exactly what our hearts and lives will do.

Matthew 5:14-16
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Bridgeway prayer for site

God on the mountain and in the valley

In the photo above,  TeachBeyond and Gateway board members and leaders gather to pray over the new school site.

by Dr. George Durance
President, TeachBeyond

Mexico in January sounds like a good idea to residents of “the Great White North” (aka, Canada), especially if you prefer green grass to snow, a swim suit to a parka, and a golf club to a hockey stick. But to a group of TeachBeyonders, January 2016 and Mexico weren’t about temperature, clothing, and high culture (hockey). It was about planning, praying, and exploring for Kingdom purposes. In case you missed it, Mexico became the 14th TeachBeyond country last year and a new school will open in August 2016.

TeachBeyonders Wayne Janik and Greg Needham discuss options with a potential partner in Mexico.

The Canadian-American Board of Directors used a four-day visit to explore aspects of our vision, values, and mission. They did this while spending dedicated time with the newly established Mexican board discussing organizational distinctive and the wonderful opportunity God is giving us to serve Him in Mexico.

As our leaders saw what God was doing and reflected on the needs of the church in Canada and the United States, we felt the Spirit was asking us to think carefully about ways in which we could do more to serve the church in North America. The dynamic impact of migration and the emergence of aggressive secularism means that many churches are looking for creative ways to be salt and light in local communities. Using transformational education in its various mediums is something we could help churches and educational institutions develop.

Our theme over the days together was “God on the Mountain and in the Valley.” We praised God for the new and the old and asked that God would continue to supply all our needs, including the need for faith. Across the globe our colleagues, national and international, face challenges which we carry in our hearts. But we left encouraged, remembering that pain, loss, hope, and victory are either sequenced or co-mingled in life. Whatever our circumstance He remains sublimely good and sovereignly sufficient.