As some may know, Byron Center Christian School partners with a school, Victorious Primary School (VPS), in Uganda. BCCS students have prayer partners/pen pals, learn about Ugandan culture, and help support VPS through prayer and fundraisers. This spring, two teachers and two students had the opportunity to visit VPS and help train their staff on how to provide excellent Christian education. Clay Lubbers (middle school science teacher) shares the following:
Our arrival was overwhelming. Imagine being greeted by over 400 students who have come in to school on a Saturday to meet you. We were welcomed by them singing “Victory, we have victory in Jesus” while they waved branches. Tears began to fill my eyes -- never had I expected such a greeting. As we stepped off the bus to walk a quarter mile to the school, the students surrounded us, waved branches, and sang.
Much of my time with the teachers at VPS was spent discussing the integration of our Christian perspective in our teaching and how to teach using hands-on activities. Uganda follows a very “English” style of teaching -- the teacher writes on the board (actually rough slate) and explains, and the students sit in their seats and learn the material using rote memorization. Teaching by having students do something was very foreign to them.
As BCCS has come alongside of VPS, one act of partnership I have seen is fundraisers in order to help their school. The big one that stuck out to me was a few years ago when we raised money for water filtration. I can be pretty competitive, so when it was announced we were going to have a contest, I simply told my homeroom that if we were going to participate and be serious, we needed to be dedicated to winning -- and we did. Then we arrived at VPS this spring, and I realized in a real way that clean water at the school has not only changed the community, it has literally saved lives. Kids don't get sick nearly as much, so the parents don't take them to a witch doctor for healing (where they get abused, bled, and marked). Now the community comes to the school for clean water, and since the school is also a church, they begin to hear about Christ. The witch doctors lose power on all levels: they lose influence, income, and prestige. In Uganda, every building needs to be blessed by the witch doctors to survive. When VPS doesn't do that and not only survives, but THRIVES, it sends a message to the community.
The message of truth VPS continues to reveal is that when the light of Christ comes in, the darkness MUST leave. It made me realize how small our fundraising contest really was, but God, through BCCS, changed the community of Tata. I am now a witness to the fact that it’s WAY more than a fundraiser -- it's literally saving lives and bringing a community to God. It's restoring a very fallen and dark place and bringing light.
This visit will impact our school, and is impacting our school. The things we saw, the knowledge we gained, the relationships we built -- this is what being a community is all about. It is more than just being “Rescued,” it is about being “Rescuers” along with Ugandan Christians in a part of the world that needs it. It is about BCCS walking alongside another school, being a light in the darkness, and helping each other become stronger in bringing Reformed Christian education to the world. It is about being used by God in expanding His kingdom.