‘How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!’ So says the psalmist David, in a Song of Ascent. He is speaking of the fellowship amongst the people of Israel as they make their way annually to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. It also describes my feelings at the end of my recent involvement with Driestar Christian University for Teacher Education and INCE with colleagues in Pakistan and Sierra Leone.
As a freelance teacher trainer it is a privilege to invest principles and practice of Christian education in others. Beyond the hard work of communicating materials online, it is also a delight to see relationships emerge and develop as brothers and sisters work together.
Our First partnership was with the Care Channels Learning Centre in Lahore, Pakistan. Care Channels is a non-profit Christian charity which has centres in Asia. Their aim is to bring relief through Education, healthcare and developing sustainable life and business skills. They work in seven countries including Pakistan. The school is dynamically led by Director and Founder Mrs ‘Jingle’. We taught our first module in March and April 2021. Dutch colleague Marielle Heidekamp and myself delivered the six weeks course; I taught two sessions on curriculum design and Marielle took the lion’s share, teaching on classroom practice.
We were impressed with the flexibility and the ’can do’ attitude of our Pakistan colleagues who had to contend with covid restrictions, local political considerations and the variables of internet connection. We found our colleagues expertly led and coordinated by Paul who is Head of Maths at the school. We enjoyed lively discussion and some interesting written responses to our assignments.
The same can also be said of our colleague in two locations within an education network in Sierra Leone. Again colleagues overcame resource and internet variables with patience and fortitude as Marielle and myself delivered the same course module in May and June 2021. For some teachers, this was their first training experience and it was a privilege to see colleagues hungry to learn and to develop their understanding and skills for the classroom. The coordinators of the project in Sierra Leone have ambitious aspirations to train teachers themselves and it was again a privilege to work with five of our original cohort to equip them to become teacher trainers themselves.
The scripture I used at the start of this article was written by the psalmist David, whilst mingling amongst people as they made their way from their small village communities and joined with more and more people on the approaches to Jerusalem. Most would only ever see the same few hundred people for most of the year - much smaller numbers even than the school communities we work in. In this scenario, people from small villages would meet with unimagined people of like minded faith. The encouragement would come from meeting people from different settings, walks and ways of life, but who nevertheless shared a common desire to be part of something that has God as it's centre and focus. I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching colleagues from the bustling city of Lahore and the teachers from the village communities of Sierra Leone whilst based in my own school community in West Yorkshire, England. Situations and challenges vary, but the desire to serve God, improve lives and share the love of God in the classroom is what we share in common.
I can’t wait to build on my new working relationship with colleagues in the future, God willing.