By George Durance
TeachBeyond President and CEO
Numbers don’t tell all the story; in fact, they may not tell the “story” at all. That said, from a numerical standpoint 2016 was an excellent year for TeachBeyond. More learners, more educators, more partners, more communities served, and more reports of transformation – but what does it mean and how much is “more?”
One of our goals in 2017 is to adopt a database that will allow us to collect information from all our service areas so we can tell more precisely the numerical story and make changes that will improve our service. We are also hoping to develop reporting instruments that give us an insight into the scope and nature of the transformation we are asking God to create.
A lot was new in 2016, like new and varied ESL projects, new medical training in Africa, new member support, new TeachBeyond national offices, new fundraising initiatives, new partners, a new department to serve the educational needs of refugees, and many new team members. One could also say with integrity that the prospect for 2017 already looks equally positive. But, is the new better than the historic and is growth all about more? No. We had a banner year in many of our more mature schools, camps, and partnership programs. Continuity and faithfulness were, if anything, even bigger stories in 2016 than were the stories associated with “new and more.”
But both these points obscure an important point: rejoicing in the reality of “new and more” should be done in a context where “we rejoice with those who rejoice and we mourn with those who mourn.” I heard recently of two longstanding educational projects that closed or are in the process of closing. Both have offered excellent, impactful programs. As we celebrate growth, we also remember challenges, disappointments, and the sense of loss we feel as friends and colleagues leave for service elsewhere and the work we loved and respected comes to an end. Celebrating an outstanding year like 2016 means we embrace both joy and disappointment and remind ourselves that the fruit of our labor is not defined simply by more, but by faith that God is doing a good work through us and for us – and all for the glory of His Son. Now that makes 2016 a banner year!