This article was originally published in the August 2014 edition of ITMI Monthly.
Frequent kidnappings. Drugs freely available to all. Sub-par academics. Untruths taught about the world. These are the educational guarantees of the Indian government schools in the part of India where ITMI partners, Paul and Molly live and minister.
The private Hindu school is God’s provision for their 19 rescued and loved daughters, and Paul and Molly are incredibly thankful to be able to send their girls to a nearby school. In contrast with government schools, it’s the best thing available.
ITMI partners, Paul and Molly.
But it doesn't fit well with Paul and Molly’s vision for their girls. It, too, is academically sub-par and immerses them in an opposing world-view.
There are no desks. The students sit on the dirty floor and write on clipboards.
Paul and Molly saved and sacrificed to buy each girl a backpack and snack box. But at school, they are strewn on the floor and trampled because there are no hooks or cubbies for them. As a result, each weekend, the girls’ staff spends a couple hours washing and patching the girls’ backpacks with duct tape.
The restrooms are holes in the ground. Toilet paper is not necessarily provided. There is no hand soap.
“Its a scary place,” Molly said.
The class sizes are large, never allowing for one-on-one instruction. Teachers don’t stop to ensure that students are tracking with them.
The girls just flip pages to keep up, not internalizing or retaining any information. They aren’t forced to sound out words. Even though the girls are bright, some of the 10-year-olds don’t even read at a Kindergarten level.
Affirmation is never used to encourage, inspire or motivate. Teachers may discipline by shouting or flicking students’ cheeks with a metal ruler. One of Paul and Molly's older girls is taunted and mocked by her Science teacher publicly. He behaves inappropriately, pulling her ponytail in front of the class.
Molly can’t meet with the teacher because the teachers' and principle’s minimal availability for parents is booked up months in advance and a foreigner at school causes the girls more grief.
The girls’ uniform includes a belt buckle with the image of a Hindu god, who is also on their school books. The idolatry necessarily seeps into their home life, too, since the buckles and books come home with the girls. Part of their education includes reciting prayers to Hindu gods.
The girls tell Molly they pray to Jesus during that time, but their young minds are impressionable and their view of themselves and God is being shaped by the prayers they hear each day even if they aren’t actively participating.
The huge chunk of the girls’ time spent in school is cajoling them in a polar opposite direction from the path Paul and Molly are sacrificing deeply to coax and disciple the girls to follow.
Paul and Molly work tirelessly to illuminate the girls' way to Jesus. That they would know the truth about who they are and where they came from. That the girls would live out an identity forged from who God is and what He does.
That 19 well-educated women would be leaders in their community, shaping it from a Biblical perspective. That they would be prepared by learning each subject from a Biblical perspective to "understand their times" (1 Chron. 12:32) and live faithfully in a culture loud with idolatry.
To realize this inspiring yet daunting goal, Paul and Molly envision a Christian school where clean facilities communicate respect for God’s creation and our role in caring for it. Where the character of God is seen clearly through the behavior of teachers and leaders.
Where academics are a vehicle for learning about God and His world, so they are pursued with excellence that glorifies Him. Where a beautiful library, playground and offices lure families that are community influencers to send their children -the future influencers - to hear truth declared and demonstrated.
There is nothing even remotely similar anywhere near Paul and Molly’s village, so a school of this caliber would truly be a “city on a hill,” shining brightly, illuminating truth for all to see.
The hill is empty. The vision is cast. The benefits are great. The project is no less than God-sized.
Right now, Paul and Molly have the opportunity to purchase 10-acres of land, not far from the girls’ home, where this "light on the hill" can be constructed.
Will you pray with them that finances and legal obstacles will fall into place in time for this dream to become a reality? Will you pray God would “hold” this land for the school, if it is His intended location?￼
Will you pray about partnering with us to build something great, something that will drop jaws and point to God’s greatness?
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 12 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.