Angela to Mexico

In many ways, God has been preparing me for this season in my life for many years.

In 2014, I chose to pursue a different career path. I have always loved working with children. I spent much of my life volunteering with kids and was a dedicated member of my church’s Children’s Ministry team. I chose to work in the local school district and pursue a degree in elementary education. This crossroad led to some major lifestyle changes. I went from working a well-paid job and spending extravagantly, to working a minimum wage job. Despite the hardships, I loved the job and loved my students. I knew this was right where God wanted me.

My home church has a strategic partnership with an organization in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. I had the opportunity to drive down with a team and provide support a couple of times. I loved being with the children there and experiencing a different culture. These experiences provided me with an appreciation of Mexican culture.

This past year, I finished my BS and began working on my MAT. I knew I had to find a position that would allow me to student teach in my own classroom and satisfy my university’s requirements. This meant pursuing a new position. My university had a job search available on the website. On the site, I stumbled upon the opportunity to teach in Puerto.

When I began talking with the staff, I had not yet officially applied. I gathered some information about the position and began the application process, unsure I would go any further. As I got further into the process, I spent time in prayer and sought the counsel of trusted people. There were concerns about finances, but I determined if I was called, God would provide. Confirmation came through my time spent with God. Lyrics from songs, confirmation from those closest to me, and a general assurance this was what I was supposed to do. God had been preparing me through interactions with the culture, change of career, downsizing of my lifestyle, and a desire to live more simply. I was at peace with my decision to move, knowing this was where God wanted me for this season.

Angela Fontanelli, GEM missionary

Oaxaca Teacher Strikes: The Simple Truth

Oh, Oaxaca…an amazing state, with amazing people…but also with so many problems. Oaxacans are known for their fighting spirit and passion. Some of Mexico’s greatest heroes have come from Oaxaca….most notable being the revered President Benito Juarez. Right now, the only news coming from this incredible place is about the militant teachers marching on the streets instead of teaching in their classrooms. Teachers are on strike in Oaxaca, Mexico….again.

It’s happened at some point every year, for the last 30 years. The radical teachers union, named CNTE, has mobilized itself this year in protest of educational reforms that were passed 3 years ago. It seems the teachers are most interested in having performance evaluations repealed. To pressure the government, the CNTE has set up dozens of blockades around the southern states, shutting down commercial traffic on major highways. As a result, businesses are losing money, tourism has essentially stopped, and everyone is running out of basic supplies. In Puerto Escondido, the local gas stations were closed for two weeks. The teachers have also taken over the main square, named the Zocalo, in Oaxaca City.

The government has been in talks with the CNTE, but no progress has been made on the main sticking points.  Sadly the protests have turned violent. Two weeks ago 8 protesters were killed and dozens of police and protesters were injured when the police tried to break up a blockade.

As the violence has started to make international news, we’ve been flooded with emails and calls. Are you safe? Do you have gas? Is it safe to travel there? Are the roads closed? All very good questions.

When you talk to people here, most diplomatically claim, “It’s a complex” issue.” In some ways, that’s true. It is complex. There is a lot of history, a lot of stories and lots of different components to the issue. But at the same time, it’s also very simple. At its core, the violence, closed schools and roads aren’t really about teacher tests or abuses by the government. It’s about sin. It’s about pride that pollutes our minds and hearts and convinces us we deserve better than what we got.

It is Satan, the great deceiver and liar, who wants this to be a complicated messy issue. But when the violence stops, the accusations and threats cease, and the teachers go home, what is left is the core simplicity of the issue. It will all be repeated…as it has every year for the last 30 years…if the rebel heart isn’t surrendered to Jesus.

From the outside, for those getting their info from news reports, it probably looks really dark here. Violence, unrest, danger, and darkness – but the truth is that the Son is still shining! The teacher protests and unrest have opened new doors for the gospel and God will use this to glorify Himself. GEM moved into Puerto Escondido and opened a school with the hope of serving the community and building bridges for the gospel. When we came here 3 years ago, the teachers were protesting. Our office was flooded with people, mostly non-Christians, who were desperate for their children to receive an education. Many of those kids have become a part of our school ministry and have heard the gospel taught each day in our classrooms. Now, 3 years later, we are again flooded by parents desperate for help. From the outside, it may look like sin and evil has won the day, but the reality is different. God is pulling people to our ministry and ultimately to himself, and he’s allowing the sin of others to be the driving force. No matter how out of control it may appear to be or how dark the situation, God is always in control and the gospel is always advancing!

Pray for our state and the people here who are impacted by the strikes. Pray that blind eyes will be opened to where the true rebellion occurs and that many will surrender their lives to Jesus. Pray also for GEM as we serve those around us and try to shine the love of Jesus in everything we do.

– Casey Herring, Founder of GEM


Three Reasons I Love Serving With GEM

It’s impossible to narrow my favorite things about GEM down to only three, but I will stick to just a few for the sake of this blog post. The first thing I absolutely love about working with Global Education Ministries is the incredible people who I work with each day. Jesus has faithfully brought together a group of genuine, selfless people who are really passionate about this ministry. Each morning we spend half an hour as a group in morning devotions. We pray for each other, encourage one another, and bless each other by digging into God’s word daily. Sometimes I have to stop myself in the middle of my day and remember how privileged I am to be serving with such an amazing family of believers who have the same motivation, which is Christ. It is all by God’s grace that this is my reality.

k1k2 Another aspect of GEM that I love is that I have the opportunity to pour into my student’s spiritual lives on a daily basis. Education is an extremely important asset in today’s world and is a major priority at our school, but Global Education Ministries is also a completely gospel-centered organization. Personally, I believe a child’s faith is much more valuable than anything else in the world. The fact that we have an entire class period devoted to learning about God’s word each day is an incredible gift. In fact, integrating biblical truth into our education doesn’t stop there! If a child has a spiritual question in the middle of science class, we are able to stop, debrief and have a discussion that could change a child’s faith forever. With GEM, it isn’t just about them getting good grades or finishing a math test on time, it’s all about Jesus.

Last but not least, Global Education Ministries hasn’t just given me the chance to meet awesome teachers, but serving at our school has given me the opportunity to meet so many different individuals with different backgrounds; some who love Jesus, and some who were put in my life for the purpose of coming to know Him. GEM makes an effort to accept middle to low-income families as students at our school. This has given us the chance to partner with people who are in physical need but also with those who have never heard of the gospel. GEM doesn’t just seek to educate the rich or Christian population, but the low and the lost. This is such a beautiful thing!

Overall, I can confidently say that Jesus is using Global Education Ministries to transform the hearts of many. That is why I love it so much! As we faithfully serve with GEM, my prayer is that the world would continue to be changed bit by bit, all for the glory of the King.

– Natalia (Miss Nati)

nataliaNatalia has served with GEM for almost 2 years now as the Kinder 1 & 2 teacher. She loves music, art and bringing laughter to any situation. At the end of this school year, she will move back to Toronto, Canada to serve with the Children’s Ministry at her home church. 

Tews to Mexico

We are very excited to join Global Education Ministries in August to begin the next phase of this journey of life that God has given us! The mission of GEM lines up exactly with the desires of our hearts! Serving and loving others to help them see the Father’s love is something we always want to be sure is the core of what we are doing!

It’s funny how we came to know about GEM. In 2014 Nate was on a flight to Haiti for a mission’s trip and sitting across the aisle was a semi-bald guy (maybe fully bald, depends on the angle and lighting…as well as the intentionality) who was reading the Bible, and as conversation was struck up he told Nate about this new school in Mexico that he and his wife started and how it was growing quickly. This guy is, of course, Casey Herring, who explained how they were fortunate to be a part of what God was doing in Puerto and how this school had been such a great tool to lead people to Jesus and to give quality education. With this great education, they were in need of more teachers so after hearing that Haley was in school for early childhood education, the seed was planted for us to come down and check the school out and what life in Puerto Escondido would look like. With that seed planted in the back of our brains, we had no idea how serious we would consider joining GEM two years later.

Tews weddingAfter we got married in July of 2015, all of our thoughts and plans for our near future were completely changed and God taught us what it means to trust Him solely. We learned that yes we make plans, but it’s The Lord who establishes our steps. After recently moving to Raleigh, NC, Nate has been working from home and was about to start a career in Real Estate while Haley was applying for teaching jobs in the public school system.

We both were praying about our next steps and what we should do but weren’t exactly sure what that was. One day recently, we talked about what we wanted to do and what we felt like God was putting in our hearts. Everything that we both described lined up together and the thought about GEM came to our minds. We lost contact with GEM and honestly couldn’t remember the name of the organization and how to get in touch with Casey but eventually did through a friend. After talking with Casey and Megan a few times and learning more about the school, the mission, and the staff we really prayed about what kind of commitment and huge life change this would be. We both had peace about it and have been excited about the opportunity!

We know this is a big change and we will miss our family and friends a lot, but we are excited to jump in with the staff and really become like a second family to each other and loving the students and their families! Though we can’t know exactly what to expect, we know our life will be centered around Jesus, the precious people in Puerto and the GEM community. We look forward to the hard times, rewarding and fun times, creepy bugs, the heat, the beach….and apparently amazing tacos!

TewsNathan and Haley Tew have been married for almost one year, and they are super excited about joining the GEM team in Puerto Escondido next fall! If you are interested in supporting them financially or with prayer, you can find their contact info here.