Matt was a pastor of one of our very first TCT churches. He was passionate about seeing change in his village and eagerly attended every training we had to offer. After one of the trainings one thing really stuck in his mind. Education. He saw so many children in his community that were home during the day instead of going to school. Each child had a different list of reasons for not attending school. For most the journey was too far. The nearest school was a four kilometer walk each way on dirt roads. Travelling such a great distance was tiring, dangerous, and unappealing for the students. Also, why should they go to school? They were the children of poor village farmers who, they believed, would one day become poor village farmers. It was their destiny. And they wouldn’t need education.
Matt was on a mission. He wanted everyone around him to see the importance of education. He wanted all the children to understand that by educating themselves they could dream of a different future. So, Matt gathered all the deacons and elders at his church and began reaching out to all the families in the community.
The church leaders set themselves a goal: to get all the children in the village to attend school. They visited each family one by one, going door to door and encouraging parents to send their kids to school. Eventually, more than 80% of parents agreed to send their children to school so long as they did not have to travel too far. The church gathered and prayed what to do. After much discussion they decided to start their own school at the church. Those with some education volunteered to help teach and the school was launched, filled with eager students.
After the school had been successfully running for a few months, the government heard about it and decided to check it out. They were overwhelmed to see so many children attending school and learning so much. The officials were so impressed that they decided to build a new school building in the area and provide certified teachers. Matt was given an award by the government for the work that he had done to promote education, and the church leaders were asked to go to the surrounding areas and encourage the parents to send their children to school.
It has now been ten years since Matt and the other church leaders started that first school in their village. Since then there has been huge growth in the number of students attending school, and the number of churches in the region. In Matt’s home village 100% of children now attend school. New schools and churches have also been built in each of the surrounding communities. Recently, 17 students from these village schools received genius scholarships normally reserved for students from wealthier urban settings. Many students also now have the opportunity to receive higher levels of education outside their home villages.
Matt is only one man but was able to impact hundreds of children, inspiring them towards a different future. Unlike the past where they expected to become farmers, children now dream of becoming doctors, teachers and nurses, one day coming back to help their area and people.
For each of us there is a challenge – how can we serve the vulnerable around us. It may not be through foster or adoption, the main topics we have focused on already. Maybe, like Matt, God will challenge us to serve in a different way.Image courtesy of Miles Berry / Flickr.com