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“I’ve Heard of You” – What Does It Mean?

By George Durance
TeachBeyond President

A distinguished educator, newly acquainted with TeachBeyond, visited our Downers Grove, Ill., office recently. When our host introduced her to me, she immediately interjected, “I’ve heard of you.”

Most people use this phrase as an icebreaker. She didn’t. There was no smile, no laugh, and no invitation to a rejoinder. It was not me she had heard about, but TeachBeyond.

I realize that I am frequently hearing this wherever I travel. Nine years ago, when we changed our name from Janz Team to TeachBeyond, all I heard was, “What’s TeachBeyond?”

What is it the public is hearing about TeachBeyond and what does it mean?

I suspect it means primarily that they have heard of what we do. At the highest level, they know we are asking God for the transformation of all the learners in our sphere of influence. At a more immediate level, they may be thinking of the kind of activities we are praying about for 2018.

Here are some of the organization-wide initiatives I have on my heart and in my prayers.

  • An outpouring of His Spirit on 28 English camps and English Intensives in 2018Arbor-expanding-building
  • Many new and expanding educational facilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic,  Dominican Republic, Mexico, France, Germany, Switzerland, Turkey, India, Bangladesh, Southeast Asia (several), and Indonesia
  • A complete renovation of our beautiful program center in Gramado, Brazil and new property for expanded ministry in the nearby region
  • The founding of a new company that will greatly expand our English language teaching program using a business platform
  • A major partnership in central Africa
  • New educational projects in Argentina and Central America
  • A platform from which we can provide educational services in Canada and the United States
  • A broadened array of educational and administrative support services in every service department and in every region
  • A net increase of 100 team members around the worldbeyond-borders-George-post-2018
  • A kindergarten in Germany as a “door opening” initiative into school services in Germany
  • A successful launch of an educational service for refugees based in Lesvos, Greece
  • The growth of the Leadership Center in Germany to the point where it supports all our projects
  • The birth of a new school in Bangui, several in south Asia, one in the old Soviet sphere, and others recently started that are growing to maturity in the next few years
  • A deeper transformation that leaves all our educators, learners, organizations, and communities more like Christ

So, what do people mean when they say, “I’ve heard of you”? Is it this list of 14 initiatives – all the dreams and hopes we are pursuing? Or is it Number 15 – who we are becoming?

I pray this is a false dichotomy, and that everywhere we are becoming the fragrance of Christ through what we do and who we are.

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Building Up Our Latin American Members

By Helen Vaughan
TeachBeyond School Services

TeachBeyond’s School Services staff delivered instruction at two schools in Latin American countries during the balmy month of January! Yes, temperatures in the low 70s F and plenty of sunshine! Before the end of Christmas break, three full days of continuing education were delivered to three different groups in Belize: the Belize Christian Academy (BCA) school board, the BCA faculty, and the national board of TeachBeyond Belize (pictured above).

A new partner, Sojourn Academy in San Jose, Costa Rica, also was given a workshop, “Classroom Management in a Transformational School.” Additionally, all the elementary grades were observed, and feedback conferences held with the teachers. Sojourn Academy is a division of the Spanish Language Institute in Costa Rica, which for decades has prepared missionaries for service in Spanish-speaking settings. Exciting possibilities were discussed about projects in which TeachBeyond and the Institute could partner.

Skype and email are tremendous blessings for international work, but nothing can beat an onsite visit to a school. Relationships are built which pave the way to more fruitful Skype calls and emails. The two schools recently visited by School Services staff now have firsthand knowledge of the breadth of services offered by TeachBeyond and are true partners with us.

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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.

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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!

— Fima HÉRITIER
Translated from French by Clive Phillips

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Get Your Church Involved First-Hand

In Brazil there were numerous students last summer who made a determined commitment to live a better life with Christ and grow in intimacy with Christ. In Eurasia there were a significant number of non-Christians who heard God’s message for the first time ever. And in Portugal there are eight new Christ-followers who participated in a TeachBeyond summer English camp. These stories, and countless others like them, happened because a team of caring, committed individuals invested their time to teach conversational English at a summer camp, loving brasil2017and mentoring the campers who participated.

Short-term mission trips offer significant opportunities for churches to engage in God’s work in the world. TeachBeyond promotes short-term mission opportunities in which individuals can engage in sharing the Good News and partnering to build God’s Kingdom in locations around the world. However, the opportunity for a short-term team from a single church is a unique opportunity offered by TeachBeyond Informal Education Language Services. Church teams who have led English camps share how the experiences not only encouraged spiritual growth among the participants, but they also strengthened the congregation’s commitment to missions by allowing the entire church to support the team and learn from their shared experiences.

EC numbersOur English Camps are designed for short-term teams from churches across North America and the UK to build a lasting relationship with the people they teach in a week-long conversational English camp. In 2018 we will facilitate 27 English camps in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Eurasia, France, Germany, Moldova, Serbia, Greece, The Philippines, Portugal, and countries in Central and Southeast Asia. Our vision is to have 40 camps by the year 2020.

Can you help us get the word out about this incredible opportunity for impact? Tell your church about TeachBeyond’s English Camps and invite them to consider sending a team to participate in sharing God’s love with people around the world.

More information: http://teachbeyond.org/go/ecamp-team/  You can also email Barry at ecampteams@teachbeyond.org. We look forward to partnering with you and your church!

Barry G. | TeachBeyond Informal Education

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Transformational Education In Albania

By Becky Hunsberger
Teacher Education Services

At the beginning of April, TeachBeyond’s Teacher Education Services joined with Transformational Education Albania to present workshops on transformational Christian education in what was the first national Christian teachers’ conference in that country. There were just over 100 teachers and school leaders from schools all over the nation in attendance. Most of these teachers work in public schools, but some have roles in private or church contexts. More teachers were interested in attending, but TEA had to close the conference and turn people away because of lack of space. They were praying for 30 to 50 teachers, and thought that this number would be a miracle!

TEA-National-Conference-PrayerOne of the most exciting things to come out of this conference was to see the vision for Christian schooling that the Lord has put on the hearts of influential church and school leaders in cities around the nation. There is currently only one known evangelical national school registered in Albania. However, we heard over and over how in pockets around the country from Elbasan to Durrës, from Tirana to Shkodër, God has raised up groups of people who long to see a Christian school in their city. The fields are ripe for the harvest and it was inspiring to hear the hearts of these people who have a vision for reaching their nation for Christ through Christian education.

Please be praying that the Lord would go before these school leaders and would help them to find favor in the eyes of the ministry of education as they go through the steps of registering their schools. Pray for their financial, personnel, and practical needs. But most of all, praise the Lord for the movement He has started in Albania and ask that through these schools His name would be proclaimed throughout the region.

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Transformation, First Hand

By George Durance
President, TeachBeyond

Two weeks ago I saw an opulent display of food and drink prepared for the pleasure of unseen ancestors and other-world beings. Whatever the culinary and even artistic merit of the feast, one would have to say that to a critical western mind shaped by “enlightened” paganism and cultural arrogance, the culinary extravagance was an unconscionable waste of good food and an expression of intellectual naivete.

But my mind wasn’t running along a critical line when I saw the display. Rather, it left me reflective of the contrasting visions of life and eternity I was seeing in this great country. Just the day before we had spent several hours reviewing transformational educational services in the region, and what we saw left us amazed at the personal and cultural impact that was occurring. Two hours after I took this picture our Global Committee members (a.k.a., board members) were sitting on the edge of their bus seats listening to a personal testimony of a local office worker’s rebirth and the impact it had on her family. It left us praising God for His power to make a person and her family healthy and whole, in Christ. In the space of a few days our Global Committee saw firsthand, dramatic signs of the spiritual forces arrayed against us as well as the liberating, truly enlightening message God’s Spirit graciously communicates to our students through our life and words.

The Global Committee used its few days in Asia to think about the nature of transformational education and our growing service around the world. It is critical that we not only assess growth, but also look carefully at the eternal nature of the change for which we are asking God. Providing good, best practice education is laudable, but we want to be certain we are asking God for more than this: an annual report to the Global Committee keeps us accountable.

In addition to helping us assess and clarify where we are going, the Global Committee sets policy for our global work. Most recently the Global Committee decided the following:

  1. We will continue to study the merits of a legal home address in the United Kingdom for TeachBeyond’s global work.
  2. We will give consideration to expanding the reach of our global office in Horsham to include a couple of regional centers.
  3. We will establish a presidential search committee to create and implement a transition plan over the next couple of years. (I expect to step down from the senior role in a couple years.)
  4. We will activate our Nominating Committee to ensure that new Global Committee members will be appointed in a timely fashion to replace current members who have reached their full term.
  5. We will ask all our national boards to adopt a common policy on sexual purity. Embedded in the policy will be a statement on homosexual practice. The text, which will be reviewed again next year, anticipates national interpretations which affirm the historic biblical position on marriage and sexual purity. This would include an acknowledgement that the Scriptures forbid homosexual practice and therefore TeachBeyond does as well. The full text of the decision will be available once the national boards have been properly briefed.

It is an honor to serve under the authority of our Global Committee and to know that each member, like all of us, longs to see transformation proclaimed everywhere. Let’s rejoice together in the work God is doing through us, while at the same time encourage each other to press on for the prize God is preparing for those who lead others to righteousness (Dan. 12:3).

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The Curious Staying Power of Truth

We just celebrated St Patrick’s Day, which reminded me that several years ago a provocatively entitled book upset conventional wisdom. It was Thomas Cahill’s, How The Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe. Those of us with an Irish heritage didn’t need to read beyond the title. Finally our ancestors were being recognized as the superior beings they were. By extension, we, too, were remarkable people and very important!

My reference to those of Irish descent is not serious, but the author certainly was. In his interpretation, the Huns and Germanic tribes which invaded Western Europe 1600 years ago threatened to destroy the cultural legacy of the ancient world. Christian clerics led by Patrick, “single-handedly refounded European civilization throughout the continent.”

It’s an interesting, controversial thesis but, setting the academic debate aside, we can ask ourselves, “How does God preserve truth in a world beset with figurative Huns and Saxons?” Throughout recorded history there has always been a “family of faith” and there has always been a majority world living in opposition to it. Nevertheless, today thousands of years since the creation of human beings, the “children of Abraham” are as numerous as the sand of the sea shore. How is this possible when human “isms” are routinely born, adopted, rejected, and swept into the dustbin of history? Many of the supposedly great ideas of the 20th century are already a fading memory but the metanarrative of the Gospel continues to flourish.

GD quoteOne reason is that God has used reforming movements to bring new vitality into the community of faith. More specifically, during the church age, educational reforms have been the hallmark of renewal and we believe the Holy Spirit is once again using such a reform to bring growth and energy to the church.

With this work of the Spirit in mind, I recently wrote to our leadership team that our organizational size is irrelevant but our vision isn’t: we have in our hearts to be used by Him to contribute to global renewal in the church through participation in an educational movement that is analogous to the great educational reforming movements of the past. In other words, we want to help with something far greater than “us.” We hope, by God’s grace, to be a spark or a forest fire – something small or something large – which the Spirit uses for His glory to bring renewal to the church through education.

We are God called, God commissioned, God gifted, and God blessed. What a great privilege it is to serve together with many others across the globe in this new thing God is doing.

– George Durance, President
Image: wikimedia.org/…commons/…Saint_Patrick…/ by Sicarr (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

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‘Featured Five’ Opportunities #4

Part #4 in our 2016 Featured Five series:
a twice-a-month peek at five opportunities out of 300+ available through TeachBeyond

What opportunities present themselves in a restricted country?

7_Thailand_childrenEverything starts with relationships. Although that focus may seem the same in every country, the implications are different in countries where your presentation of the Good News is considered unwelcome, viewed with suspicion, and even illegal. When a relationship is established, there’s the possibility, with discernment, to share Jesus’ love and read the Bible together. There are opportunities to testify about our faith when relevant situations present themselves, such as honesty, gossip, ancestor worship, and altars to gods.

We have an opportunity to help develop the fundamental worldview they use to operate and make decisions, particularly in a society where mindsets are going through drastic transitions with the Internet and globalization influencing lives.

Our Opportunities Board on our website has some limited information about our openings in restricted countries, though you can inquire there or email us for more details.

English Language Teachers

SE Asia Bilingual School

Do you want to experience first-hand how God can use education to build His church in a restricted access country? This school in SE Asia has seen many doors opened for ministry through Christ-followers offering a quality, bilingual education in one of the poorest regions of the country. Training and certification is available for those who need it.

Inquire Now

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Secondary History Teacher

Central Asia International School

Come join us by teaching history in a country shaped by its history as a former part of the Soviet Union. As you invest in your students, you’ll also have the opportunity to learn the language and culture so you can minister in the local community as well.
Inquire Now

Principal

Balkan American School

Are you a school administrator up for the challenge of a lifetime? Balkan American School urgently needs a principal, beginning service in summer, 2016. Without this key leader, our grade 6-12 school will have to close its doors after nearly a decade of impacting students in a restricted country.
Inquire Now

Elementary Teachers

North Africa Classical TCK School

The focus of our school is to educate the children of international families living in North Africa who have come for the purpose of cross-cultural ministry. In addition to serving them, you also would have the opportunity to teach the youth of local, North African families who desire an international education.
Inquire Now

Suzuki Violin Teacher

Asia Community Arts Center

Do you have a passion for teaching violin and a passion for Christ? If so, then we would love to have you consider joining our team that impacts the local community through the arts. This teacher will be responsible for private and group violin lessons while learning the language and building relationships for an eternal impact.
Inquire Now

→ Learn more about these opportunities by visiting our Opportunity Page and inquiring.