The conference is nearly over
Trip Start Sep 27, 2012
15Trip End Oct 12, 2012
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It's interesting how the sessions that you least expect to impact you turn around and hit you. That was the case with the presentation on LAMS, the Learning Activity Management System software; mainly because it was the one session I had actually heard before, and also because technology is not my top thing. I was tempted to take a break in the fresh air. In the event, James Dalziel demonstrated his program and then gave some personal reflections. For a start, I hadn't realized that this amazing resource is free for schools to use, even though it was 10 years' work for James
At morning tea I talked with Sylvia. She and her husband Marcus work in a school in Vienna. They bought the land and have set up two kindergartens and a primary school. It was only later that they discovered that they had built on the exact site outside the city where Protestants had been forced to go outside the ancient wall for their worship!
The Hong Kong regional report was of great interest because I grew up there and David To did not disappoint. 7 million people in 1,100 square kilometers!! Christian schools are fully funded and so thrive - David's school has over 1000, with classes of 40-45. Of 400 secondary schools, only about 20 have all Christian teachers. The powerful influences on education in Hong Kong are competitiveness and the pressure to excel, communism, secularism, no association for the encouragement of Christian schools.
By far the most powerful message was from Daniel Neuhaus, the regional director for Francophone Europe and Africa. I don't see how he can coordinate schools in France, Belgium, Switzerland and 3 large regions in Africa. Some of the stats are just mind blowing. The DR Congo, for example, which is 3/4 the size of Europe, has 18,000 Protestant schools, 4.3 million students and 160,000 teachers
One of the main thriving countries is one I have scarcely heard of - Burkina Faso. It is north of Ghana, and has become the centre of growth for Christian education, with 150 schools already. They plan to open a regional office there next year. Daniel was the son of missionaries in Africa, and now has French and Swiss passports, so is very much at home flying around to these far flung countries. He has been involved in broadcasting, coordinated the Billy Graham crusade and has directed a Bible school. He is also involved in College Daniel, the largest Christian school in France, teaching English and Science. With 4 young adult children, including an autistic son, I think this man is a real hero! I feel privileged to meet people like this and need to think about how to respond to all of this.
After solid sessions all day, tonight was a celebration of unity, with presentations from each region, singing, prayer and Bible reading in 7 languages and ending with a symbolic lighting and sharing of candles. I will never forget it and am taking home a lot in my heart as well as my mind. I would like a few more days to reflect and sort my thoughts, but it is time to pack up in the morning and move on to Geneva before the big trip home. That will be good too.