Tuesday, March 14, 2017

School days, School days

School days, school days
Dear old Golden Rule days…

Russell is busy with the beginning of a new year for Pastors’ Training School, but he still managed to squeeze in a phone call to fill me in on what’s happening. It sounds like it’s off to a great start.

New Year, New Schedule

In previous years, each week of Pastors’ Training School consisted of a complete two days of training spread out over three days. Why? Because many of the students are at the mercy of the bus schedule and busses don’t begin running until lunchtime one day. Therefore, classes consisted of a half day, followed by a full day, followed by another half day. At lunchtime on the third day, the students would travel home to their families and their congregations. The following month, they’d do it all over again.

This year, 33 of the 43 students from last year’s school have returned for training at the next level. They’ve also added another 29 first year students. Since the classes aren’t covering the same material, they meet on different days. That means Pastors’ Training School now consists of four full days of training spread over the course of five days. When the first group is sent home at lunchtime on the third day, the second group arrives for their school week.

Five Star (Students) Review

Five star students from last year have agreed to stay on for the full five days of classes to serve as mentors for the new group of first year students. The five men are currently receiving special training in mentorship.

While Russell was talking, I was struck by the immense commitment on the part of the mentors. They will be staying for the full five days each week of school, plus setting aside other days to go out to the villages where their mentees live, in order to lead study groups. They will go out to the villages for study sessions with three to five students at a time. In the past, the American teachers have done that. With the expanded school week, the teachers will not have as much time to lead study sessions.

These mentors men with families who will miss them during their time away from home (one week per month). They are pastors of congregations who have needs. And, most mind boggling to my North American mind, they are not receiving a salary for mentoring! The school will try to help them with some of their costs, such as fuel for travel expenses, but that’s the extent of the financial help. The mentors will be staying in the homes of the pastors they are helping, when they are out in the field.

Russell explained, “That commitment is key because we have seven missionary men involved in Training School through teaching or administration. If we can raise up five mentors, we have almost doubled ourselves! It will help to make the program self-sustainable. If we continue to add new students, the mentor thing is more cost effective than missionaries.”

Group Effort

In the past, Pastors’ Training School was Allen’s project, which he founded. Allen and Russell ran it for the first four years. Then it closed down for a couple of years. Now, it is a combination of seven missionaries operating the school.

Russell continued, “It has grown and changed and the structure is different now. We’re at a point where everyone has a role and responsibilities. It’s not really ours. It’s the missionaries of Gracias who operate it, with me playing a head administrative role and other missionaries taking on the academic part. We are all sharing in the commitment to raise funds for it. It’s definitely a group effort now.”

- posted by Christi

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