Education takes many forms and involves a diverse and large group of people. Whether educating children who already know God, or teaching tribal groups in rural villages, OMF’s aim is to give God glory. These are a few stories from around Asia that show the array of education we are engaged in.
A lanky year eleven student burst out with his news, ‘I just wanted to let you know, I became a Christian over the summer!’ I couldn’t hold back dancing a jig as I heard him. Not all students at Christian Academy in Japan (CAJ) are Christians, though most come from Christian families. This Korean student knew nothing of Christ when he arrived.
I did not lead him to Christ. He saw God in creation. The intricate beauty, the complex interconnections, everything he learned in mathematics and science, these were what convinced him of God.
He is really keen on maths and science. He walked across the stage at his graduation waving a periodic table poster! I taught him for two years, coached him on the school trivia team and math competition team. We would chat about life and the joy of learning new and amazing things. He attended extra classes after school and studied for the fun of it. God met him where he was; in the books and equations he read.
At the Christian Academy in Japan, we strive to teach our courses in a way that lets the students know that God is behind everything. I praise God that he proved himself to this young man.
It reminds me that it is not our job to change hearts. Our job is to act faithfully in the tasks that God gives us. We declare his saving love in Jesus. He is the one who does the saving. He saved this student, and we pray that he will continue to save Japanese people.
by David Marshall
‘I’m too shy to speak English!’ ‘I’m afraid I will make mistakes.’ These are typical statements of those who come to our English Centre for the first time.
The English Centre meets an important need– informal education for an unreached Muslim group. The ability to converse in English is key to succeeding in university studies, obtaining quality jobs, and studying or traveling abroad. We meet that need by providing English discussion groups, pronunciation practice, public speaking and more, all of which is facilitated by an international team of short-term volunteers and one long-term worker.
Initially the students are attracted by the chance to practise their English with foreigners and not paying expensive fees. But they soon realise that the English Centre is much more than a place to improve their English. Friendships are formed and informal mentoring takes place through students who have attended the Centre for a longer time. For many students the English Centre has become their second home, and they consider the community there to be their family. Joys and sorrows, successes and failures are all shared together.
We have witnessed numerous students grow significantly, not only in using English, but also in leadership and social skills. This is encouraged by involving students with advanced English in leading discussion groups and public speaking sessions.
Short-term volunteers are key in this ministry. As they befriend the members, share in their lives, and impart truth to them, they provide tangible examples of what it means to follow Christ.
One day our foreign neighbour, Uncle Dan, visited my school. The principal introduced him to us as we stood in our class rows. Uncle Dan showed us a book he was donating to the school library and explained a bit about what Christians believe. He finished by inviting us to English classes he was starting in the market. I didn’t pay much attention. I wasn’t planning on taking any classes. Mum couldn’t afford it, and it would mean less play-time anyway.
When I got home my sister, Ann, told mum about the English classes.
‘I really want to go!’ She exclaimed much to my annoyance. I just wanted to enjoy not being at school!
Mum nodded. ‘Aunt Kate let me know about them. I want you both to go.’
Before I could object, she continued. ‘I’m sure it will be a good use of your time and may help you get a good job someday.’
I wasn’t convinced, but when Uncle Dan’s sons, Roger and Owen, told me they had to go too, I started to feel better. They could already speak English! A couple of other children said their mothers had heard about the classes, and they were going too.
‘At least we could go as a group,’ I thought before I arrived at the class.
A lot of kids showed up for the first class. We had to work together and try to spell our nicknames in English. Uncle Dan played the guitar as we sang songs, and Owen helped his Mum lead some games. As we left, a Thai lady from the local church gave out snacks as she said good-bye to us. She even remembered my nickname!
The class was more fun than I’d expected. Mum said she was glad the Christians were helping the children in our community, so I know she wants me to keep going. Maybe there are benefits to having foreigners as neighbours!
by Brenda Noble