A teacher shortage threatens Bible translation work

By October 23, 2008

International (MNN) — A critical
shortage of schoolteachers on the field could have far-reaching impact on Bible

Tom Lotz with
New Tribes Missions
explains, "What we end up seeing is those folks who are out in tribal
locations being pulled out of those locations for a couple of
reasons: one, they come and help at the school base. Other folks who have a
child with special needs, are having to homeschool their kids then in the
tribe. That limits the tribal impact
they can have."

Without the school, missionaries
would be facing the heartache and flight costs of sending their children to a
larger school 500 miles away. But within
a school, teachers and administration face multiple challenges that can be

For example, missionary teachers often teach multi-graded classes, students from different cultures, and students that come and go as their missionary parents leave for home assignment or return to their ministry.  

That leaves a skeleton crew at
the schools. What's more, when a teacher
has to leave for health reasons, deputation, or retirement, Lotz says they're
not seeing enough people stepping up to take over.

"We are looking at ways that
we can get the word out to folks who might be listening, who are teachers and
say, 'Boy! I would love to be a part of getting the Gospel out. I can do it
through teaching!'" 

That's exactly what happened with
Jonathan and Heidi Bamford, from Washington State. According to New
Tribes, before becoming involved in missions, Jonathan taught in elementary
schools and Heidi worked as a records clerk in a doctor's office. 

Upon hearing that school teachers
were needed in order to keep missionaries working in their assigned locations, they
both decided to get involved. 

They trained in the United
States, then moved to the Philippines to begin work at the New Tribes
Mission school in Luzon. After serving there for one term, they began
work with the Isnag project.

At last check, the New Tribes Web site indicated they were in need of at least 144 teachers or dorm parents
for positions all around the world.

Lotz says the phenomenon of
short-term missions opens a lot of eyes, but he adds, "What we need are
folks who are coming to stay to be there for five years, ten years, twenty
years and more, to keep the schools running so we can keep folks out there in
the tribal settings."

Pray that God will challenge
hearts to answer the need for teachers and dorm parents.   



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