If I’m being honest, I never thought I’d work for a school. Or even a ministry that revolves around education. It’s not that that I don’t enjoy little elementary student hugs or the fist bumps of the older ones, but I just didn’t see how I would fit my nonprofit and Spanish degrees into a school setting (besides the obvious path of being a Spanish teacher… which I knew was a no-go for me). But fast forward to September of 2020 and I’ve been working in a school for the last two going-on three years and I wouldn’t change it for the world!
One thing I noticed from the get-go is that this ministry, Global Education Ministries, and the many schools that I now work to support are different. Yes we offer math, science, reading, and writing; we have the normal 30-minute lunch break; and recess remains the personal favorite of probably 75% of our students; but there are five distinct ways I have been able to see over these last few years that set GEM Schools apart from the rest.
1. Gospel Saturated Schools
If you’ve followed GEM for any amount of time I’m sure you’ve heard or read the term “Gospel-Saturated.” So what is a Gospel-Saturated School? According to Webster’s dictionary, the word saturate means to fill completely with something that permeates or pervades. A Gospel-Saturated School is a place where students not only encounter the truth of Jesus in one class but where the love and grace of Jesus are experienced all throughout the school. This is only able to happen when our teachers themselves are saturated in the gospel and understand their calling as missionaries to naturally weave the Gospel into their teaching, discipline, relationships, and daily example. We don’t just tack a Bible class onto our curriculum and call it a day. The goal of a Gospel-Saturated school is to show that God’s Word is relevant to every class and to every situation one encounters all throughout the day.
2. Private Schools for the Public
We believe all GEM schools should be affordable to everyone in the community. Within each community, families are given the opportunity to become part of the school regardless of their economic status. The ultimate goal is that GEM schools would offer a high-quality education that all children and their families can afford.
3. We’re Accessible to All
We believe all GEM schools should be open and accessible to Christian and non-Christian families. Unlike many Christian schools that tend to focus on discipleship of Christian students, GEM schools are designed to be outreach ministries to bring the Gospel to all students and all families alike.
4. Our School Directors Sacrifice
Our school directors are some of the toughest people I know. Whether it be going months without taking a paycheck because they want to make sure their students have what they need or hiding because of severe persecution due to being the leader of a Christian school in the community, our directors know what it means to sacrifice. Many of them have left their day-time jobs because of a specific calling they felt from the Lord to help us start Gospel-Saturated schools in their area. Yet, for all the sacrificing they may do, they don’t complain and they don’t demand extra benefits. It is evident when you talk to them that they do it because they love the students and most importantly because they love God.
5. Everything is Done in Love
This last point is one that everyone seems to notice when they step onto a GEM school’s campus whether it be on the coast of Oaxaca, Mexico or in the middle of sub-saharan Uganda. We love our students fiercely. We love them so fiercely that at every one of our schools the school staff arrives an hour early every day to pray for our students and find ways to serve our families better.
During the pandemic, we wanted to make sure our families were doing ok, so several of our schools, directors and staff included, went door to door checking in on our families and dropping off household items and canned goods. We love our students so much that we work night and day to get sponsors for them so that our schools can continute to run and share with them the life-changing news that we aren’t good enough but that’s ok because Jesus is and we need to run to Him if we’re to have any hope in this world!
No, we’re by no means perfect and we’re far from having it all figured out. Many times we even find ourselves working out of our own strength instead of the Lord’s. But one thing is for sure, the heart’s desire of every GEM teacher and every GEM school is to love on our students in a way that they are pointed away from us and to God’s great love for them. And with that I think we can build something.