“If you can read this sign, you are more fortunate than the 3 billion people in the world who can’t read.” When I saw this statistic, I was shocked. I know that one of the Millennium Development Goals called for universal primary education, but I had no ideas that the world was so far from accomplishing that goal. How could it be that in our era of ubiquitously available knowledge and copious generation of information, so many were unable to reap the benefits? How could so many remain deprived of skill as vital as literacy?
Perhaps our missionary parents were not faced with such an extreme situation as the possibility of raising illiterate children, but education was surely l a vital consideration when they entered the mission field. Many missionary parents in remote areas have spent countless sleepless hours pondering whether to homeschool or to send their young child to boarding school hundreds of miles away in a foreign country or to send their child to a local school. Each choice faced difficulties- homeschooling was difficult for the parent and often lonely for the child, limiting their chances for social interaction. Boarding school incurred the pain of a separated family. Local schools were either unavailable, unable to cope with the nomadic missionary lifestyle, or incompatible with the child’s original education system.
Thus At Faith Academy, I saw God called upon an amazing group of teachers who dedicated their lives to running missionary schools and educating the children of missionaries. They sacrificed the comfort of their home countries, lucrative careers, dental plans, and high speed Internet, and work for a major part, or even the rest of their lives, without ever seeing a paycheck again.
It was indescribably incredible for me to be blessed with these teachers. Teaching is their ministry and their passion, not a mundane chore endured in order to make a living. They teach with love and whole-hearted dedication, motives untainted with any trace of personal gain or career advancement. They care not only about their student’s academic advancement, but their social lives, personal problems, and spiritual struggles.
I remember how I would accost Mrs. Morrow with 6 or 7 drafts of each IGCSE paper, muscling her out of dozens of lunch breaks. (I remember how Mrs. Hardeman spent many extra nights to help me catching up curriculum so that I could take the IGCSE Biology exam.) I remember how Mr. Landers went as far as to scan and email me my AP Chemistry lab because I’d left it at school and it was due the next day. I remember how Mr. Fish would stay after school every day to water the soccer field, bribe us to come to team meetings with candy bars and Gatorade, and stay up all night perfecting the finishing touches on our soccer team uniforms. I remember how Mrs. Bauck or Mrs. Conrad would spend hours pouring over the bible with me, searching for answers to convoluted theological controversies. (and many more that I cannot list all…)
These teachers are priceless, they cannot be hired. As a man once said to Mother Theresa “I wouldn’t do what you do for a million dollars.” She turned to him and replied, “Neither would I.”
These people have done so much for me, for missionary kids world-wide, and for the entire mission community. I can never thank them enough. They have alleviated the burden of educational worries for countless missionary parents. They have created a tight-knit community where we missionary kids know that we are loved. They have nurtured us and helped us to grow academically, spiritually, and ecumenically. They provided us with world-class education. In fact, I would unflinchingly declare that my high school teachers at Faith would outstrip my college professors on almost every level- especially in their ability and effectiveness as educators.
Many people think back to their high school days and shudder. But my time at Faith Academy was some of best times of my life. Where else could I have formed so many life-long friendships with like-minded classmates who understood the struggles I went through as a missionary kid, who prayed with me an held me accountable, who accepted my need to go barefoot at all times, who joined me in setting off powerful, homemade explosives on New Year’s, and who dared me to jump off 60- foot cliffs? Where else would I have teachers who were not merely mentors, but friends and confidants? Where else could I have found a beautiful community that serves each other, bonds together for every event (ranging from sports to theater to ministry trips) and supports each other in times of disaster?
So to all the teachers, administrators, coaches, and dorm parents: thank you. Thank you for teaching me in so many ways. Thank you for caring about us and loving us. Thank you for answering God’s call in your life. Thank you for a willing heart to serve. Thank you for living Jesus-filled lives as an example for me to follow. Thank you for helping bring God’s kingdom on earth. Thank You.
To God be the glory.