International (MNN) — Education is a powerful tool that shapes lives and cultures. It can even make a difference for eternity.
By training and connecting educators to provide quality, values-based education to underprivileged people groups, TeachBeyond is prompting both personal and spiritual growth. According to the organization’s president George Durance, more people than ever are requesting this type of education, and not because of anything TeachBeyond is doing.
“To be really honest with you, we’re not going around, cultivating a sense of educational need, or a need for a values-based education,” Durance says. “And the other organizations with which we work collaboratively, they would say the same thing. It’s just an astonishing movement of the Holy Spirit around the world, prodding and probing, and the result is we have this outburst of interest in education.”
Durance says in the past, in many developing countries, most parents haven’t been afforded the luxury of thinking about establishing a long-term Christian culture. Rather, they have desired quality, values-based education as a way to give their children a leg up in society. Now, Durance says, they’re beginning to view this as an opportunity for the Gospel.
“I think the parents themselves in much of the world, they haven’t really fully understood the values component, but they have understood two other things, and that is they can use this highly desirable thing called quality education to be a testimony and witness in their community,” Durance says. “And so they can use it as a doorway into the neighborhood, and it brings respect, it brings a certain appreciation for the church.
“The other thing is they really want…the transformational component. They want to see their children and their societies holistically transformed. I see that as slightly different than at least our Western idea that we can dust off the sort of negative things in our society by giving our children a good, values-based education. It’s got to be more than that for most of these people.”
Durance says one reason why people are desiring this type of education so much is because of its potential for great impact. According to Durance, believers are realizing it’s a powerful way to transform their community in multiple different ways, specifically for Christ.
“When we talk about education as an attractive option, a Great Commission method, I think part of it could be folks just sitting down and thinking logically,” Durance says. “I’m thinking of one particular individual in a country where we have a great deal of work now. He’d been very involved in the communist system, and when he became a believer, he had this same desire to see his country undergo a revolution, but now it was a Christian revolution. And for him, because of his training as Communist, it was clear that the way to change the nation was through education.
“So it wasn’t a kind of breakthrough, inspirational moment. It was just a clear-headed, logical decision based on experience and what he’d seen around the world, that if I bring in a transformational message through education, I can change my country.
“This is what is shocking us, is we’re finding these catalytic individuals in many different countries who have this vision, and so even if the parents in the church are more concerned about immediate issues, which is, ‘I want a leg up for my children with a good education that includes some English so they can have an international opportunity,’ and so on, those people align comfortably with the visionaries, and we have this wonderful open door the Spirit has given us.”
Durance says it’s encouraging to see the way God is working around the world through education, and comforting to know that the church is not on the defensive. He says the next step is for Christians to ask God what this means for them personally, understanding we can participate in God’s global adventure by being an agent of change wherever He has placed us.