5 Things That Set GEM Schools Apart

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.

-Maggie Addison, GEM Missionary

God’s Faithfulness Through GEM

One of the most incredible attributes of God is that he is never not faithful. Really. He is constant, an ever assured rock where we as believers are founded. God is never not faithful to be loving, to be gracious, to set his purpose into place, and to reveal his glory. He even is faithful to use us for his divine purpose. Humans. He wants us to be vessels for him. I mean, a God that is so perfect, choosing sinners to further his kingdom? Kinda crazy. To add to the crazy, when we are in constant relationship with him, we become more like him. When we choose to follow his path of righteousness, we too can become more faithful to what he commands. It’s a beautiful thing that he calls us to be divine, to be holy like him. I have never been more reminded of his faithfulness, his steadfastness, than when I visited Puerto Escondido.

12829386_546305985551559_8459055289602607604_oBeing given the opportunity to know the staff and students at Manantial is one that I keep close to my heart. The Lord has been so faithful to plan the steps of each staff member of this precious school. The students see glimpses of Jesus every day because of what they see in their teachers. As soon as you step through the white gate into the school, the atmosphere is so spirit filled. I can’t describe to you the encouragement and joy and peace that anyone can feel in that place. I can only attribute it to faith. The labor that staff members have put into this school has definitely not gone in vain. God is using education, a privilege that some of these children might not have if it weren’t for GEM, to reveal himself. These children are such sweet blessings. Each one so unique, bringing their own talents to make this school even more special. I really cannot speak enough words to say just how much Manantial is doing and how faithful God has been to make the school flourish. Seriously. Pray for the school, sponsor a child, visit Puerto (also because tacos and the beach!), serve alongside GEM, and be faithful to see God’s story played out in this beautiful place.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:57-59


1920198_250072258508268_1635934270_nSara Smith has volunteered with GEM in Puerto twice, and she is a treasured part of our support team!

MARRIAGE, MEXICO, AND MINEFIELDS: THE JOY OF FOLLOWING JESUS INTO THE UNKNOWN

“God is so vastly wonderful, so utterly and completely delightful that He can, without anything other than Himself, meet and overflow the deepest demands of our total nature, mysterious and deep as that nature is.” – A.W. Tozer

CHANGE: WRESTLING WITH THE UNKNOWN

If there is one thing in my life that I consistently struggle with, it’s changed.

Six years ago, I moved away from my family in south Georgia for college in Virginia. At the time I was 21 years old. I had never been away from my family for more than 2 months. Moving away was incredibly frightening. In my case, change meant moving 8 hours away from friends that I had invested in over 21 years of my life. Change meant a lot of new, uncertain things in my life. For a person used to safety and comfort, this was very difficult. It meant that I was moving into a new setting where I was the outsider, the new kid.  Yet, I knew God was leading me away from where I had been for 21 years to grow and live independently from my family.  What I didn’t know at the time was that change was soon to become the mantra of my life. I had no idea that God was going to use the thing I hated the most to shape and refine me, day-by-day, moment-by-moment.

Tim Chester says, “Change is a lifelong, daily struggle that will end with an eternal harvest of holiness.”

God uses change in our lives, good and bad, to refine us and shape us into the image of Jesus, bringing us into fuller joy.

REDEEMING THE UNKNOWN

In my own life, God has used change in several ways to shape and refine me. In college, I was forced to stand on my own. I was taught through the unknown transition into adulthood that God can be trusted in all circumstances. Because of my experiences in college I came to understand the church with deeper clarity and conviction.  I learned that God does not only intend for us to show up once a week to a building to hear his word preached but that the church is his body – a people redeemed by Jesus sent into the world to be his witnesses. I learned that the church isn’t a place at all – it’s a people. I learned that God calls me to worship every single day, not just on Sundays. I learned that the church is this messy, broken, redeemed, beautiful, healed people trying to live in light of the truth and that we have been declared righteous by God through faith in Jesus.

God was also revealing to me that discipleship was much more than just one on one meeting or a bible study. Rather, discipleship is submitting all of our lives to the Lordship of Jesus. Jeff Vanderstelt writes,

“Discipleship—learning to follow, trust, and obey Jesus in the everyday stuff of life—requires submitting to and obeying God’s Word in three key environments: life on life, where our lives are visible and accessible to one another; life in community, where more than one person is developing another; and life on mission, where we experience making disciples and, while doing so, come to realize how much we need God’s power.”

Ultimately God used my time in Lynchburg to grow me and help me to see the beauty of who Jesus is and who He is making me to be. I have found Proverbs 16:9 to be fittingly and sometimes frustratingly true – “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

MARRIAGE

mcdonaldsRecently, another life change occurred: I married my beautiful wife, Kristen. Marriage, more than anything else, has already been one of the most difficult, joyful, sanctifying realities in my life.

God’s grace is at work, transforming us as we navigate these recent changes together.

Marriage is messy. My wife sees my life for what it is and I see the same in her. This is what makes it so amazing! God is in the works of changing us—through marriage—to His likeness.

Paul Tripp reminds us that God uses spouses as tools of change.

“When your ears hear and your eyes see the sin, weakness, or failure of your husband or wife, it is never an accident; it is always grace. God loves your spouse, and he is committed to transforming him or her by his grace, and he has chosen you to be one of his regular tools of change.”

God is redeeming the difficulties in marriage to transform us. He is using our transition into marriage as a means of changing us. He is using the sin, brokenness, selfishness, and mess as tools of change for the sake of His name.

MEXICO

When Kristen and I were dating, we often dreamed of what our future would look like, where we would be, and who we would be serving. We had plans to settle in Virginia (quite comfortably) for a season before we would eventually move to Portland, Oregon to be a part of a church planting team for the sake of Jesus’ name being made known in the Pacific Northwest. However, God had different plans. Again, Proverbs 16:9,

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

My wife was recently attending a local fair for teaching jobs when one particular school seemed to stand out. This school is called Centro Educativo el Manantial (CEM). This is not your normal, American public school. This is an English immersion school that is found in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. It was started by an organization called Global Education Ministries. When Kristen first told me about this, I remember thinking, “there is no way we are moving to Mexico!”  Why would I want to go to Mexico? We already had a great plan! We had a safe plan. We had a comfortable plan. We had a plan that required minimal change. We would stay put for a couple of years and then move to Portland.

So we prayed. And prayed. And we sought wise council and deliberated with friends. Finally, after much consideration, wisdom, and prayer, we can say with confidence that the Lord is leading us to follow Him to a country neither of us knows, in an area we are unfamiliar with, and in a way we never could have expected. Six months after being married, we are about to embark on the biggest adventure of our lives. Here is what we are learning – God calls us into unfamiliar situations that require us to obey and trust in His faithfulness.In light of all of this, we have committed to two years in Puerto Escondido, Mexico for the Glory of His Name! We are very excited about how the Lord will use this in our lives to grow us, mold us, draw us closer to Him. We are equally excited to see how He uses us to lift up the name of Jesus in Mexico!

PURSUING JESUS IN THE MINEFIELDS OF CHANGE

If there was going to be anything I’ve learned through all these changes it is this: Jesus is worthy of all our time, possessions, decisions, and personal desires. Psalm 103:2-5 gives us a beautiful picture of our God and who He is to us.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Nothing else in this world will give the satisfaction that Jesus offers. He is good and there is no one like Him. We were created by and for Him. It doesn’t matter if you are living in the states or in another country, God desires that you seek him with your whole heart. He has given his church a command: to make disciples of all nations. Therefore, all of us have a mission and that mission is to love and serve your neighbors, co-workers, classmates, roommates, spouses, and those you encounter on a daily basis. That mission may lead us into uncomfortable situations and deep into the unknown, but there is so much joy in following Him. Hebrews 12:2 says, “For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” If Jesus, in joy, endured the cross, how much more can we, with joy, seek Him and follow Him wherever he leads us? He is our joy, our treasure, our hope.

There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to moving to Mexico. Where are we going to live? How are we going to raise enough money? What are we going to do with all of our stuff? It can be overwhelming thinking about all of these logistics, but there is beauty in following Jesus into these unknowns.

The less we know about our specific plans, the more we will be able to trust in God’s promises to keep and guide us. We have nothing to hold onto except for Jesus. What a joy it is to trust in His promises to take care of us!

God’s word tells us to follow Him regardless of the cost. Following Jesus will most likely take us through minefields of change. This means, we never know when some kind of change will happen in our life. We will continue to encounter change — sometimes to the extent to moving to another country. This will be a constant reality for the rest of our lives. The good news is – we can walk through minefields of change with an understanding that God is worthy of our trust. His name is worthy of our lives, regardless of the cost.


13002621_1137203002997725_8962894918079717680_oDaniel graduated from Liberty University with a B.S. in Communication (2011) and a Master’s of Divinity in Evangelism and Church Planting (2014). He will be serving as the Director of Communication for GEM. Kristen graduated in May 2016 with a B.S. in Elementary Education and will serve as the 4th-grade teacher at the Manantial School. They enjoy playing sports, eating good food with friends, and exploring with their wonderdog, Nala. Above all, they desire to make disciples by making Jesus known in Puerto and around the world. To read more posts on Daniel’s personal blog, click here.

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. 

My Favorite Moments at El Manantial

August of 2015 began my journey in Mexico. It was only the second time I had traveled out of the country. The first time was just one month earlier when I went to Canada for missionary training. The idea of moving to another country was a little scary, but I had no doubt that God was calling me to serve with Global Education Ministries. I have been blessed by the experiences where God has shown His work in the school and in my life.

One of my favorite moments was a conversation I had with a parent of one of my students. After our Christmas play, the mom of the student (who portrayed Gabriel) came up to me and said that she was very thankful that her son had the opportunity to be in the play. She said that it was good for him. He is one of my students who knows a good amount about the Bible but doesn’t understand how real it is and how God can change his life. This is why it was a big deal for him to play the angel who shared with Mary and Joseph about the coming of Jesus.

The sweetest moment I’ve had with a student was during our VBS week. We had a church from Oregon come down and share Jesus with our students through crafts, memory verses, Bible stories and new worship songs. After the gospel message was shared with the fifth and sixth graders, the fifth-grade teacher and I stayed around to talk with any students who had questions. One of my girls asked me how we can know God is real. I was able to share with her how God directs each of our lives. I specifically shared with her how God CEMbrought me to Puerto to teach her. I was grateful that I could openly share with her about God’s desire to be a part of her life.

Our weekly chapel time has also been a part of some precious moments for me. After lunch on Fridays, we have the unique opportunity to worship God by singing, combined with hand motions for each song. What makes that time so precious is that I can stand alongside my sixth graders and the fifth graders and do the hand motions together. I love to see the pure joy in each kid’s face that you don’t often have the opportunity to see in class.

Being a first-year teacher in a foreign country has been challenging, but each of those memories I mentioned has made me so grateful that God chose to bring me to Puerto Escondido and the Manantial School. Conversations with parents, sharing gospel truths with students, and singing praises to God with young people are all reasons why my first year living and working in Puerto has been truly special. I hope you are encouraged by hearing how God has been working in my life through our school in Mexico!


 

12311072_10153737475897037_6591797797304556083_nTracy Frohlich graduated from Erskine College, in South Carolina with a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology in 2013. She loves worshiping God through music and is excited about what the Lord will teach her through this unique opportunity in Puerto Escondido!