An Update on St. Paul's Public School
Andy Ott | Director of Communications & Technology
Stephen and his team are diligently working to complete the physical construction of the lower level of St. Paul’s Public School so that they will be able to educate students through 5th grade beginning next school year (which begins in June). St. Paul’s is an English-immersion school and therefore, all instruction takes place in English. The goal is that by teaching the students English, they will then be able to make themselves more marketable after high school in universities and ultimately the job force. Even though the facility is still very much under construction and St. Paul’s has only been operating for two years, the facilities at St. Paul’s are well above those of neighboring ‘state’ schools and even rival some of the larger Catholic institutions. This is a testament to Stephen and his team and their attention to detail in the design of the facility.
For the last nine months Stephen and his team have been trying to get their accreditation from the state education office. The process was protracted because Stephen continues to vehemently oppose the culture of bribery that permeates the Indian government. By God’s grace, our team was able to celebrate with Stephen and his team on Thursday afternoon (as we were heading to the airport to return to the States) as he received the accreditation letter that will be good for five years and makes St. Paul’s a recognized school for 4K through 7th grade.
St. Paul’s program is unique in Indian educational culture. It runs as a hybrid of a classical British military school (with its’ rigor and discipline) and a collaborative American elementary school (with its’ team-based teaching and small group classroom feel). Stephen and his team seem to have reached a harmonious balance in these two paradigms that has helped the children to learn respect and honor while allowing them to participate in group-style learning and having fun while doing it.
As our team witnessed in our time in-country, every work that Stephen and the GEMS team are involved in is a spiritual one. The real ‘heavy lifting’ happens in the spiritual realm before the fruit ever appears in the physical realm. In that vein, there are several things you can pray for:
1. As you read this, Stephen is traveling to a neighboring state to preach / teach the Bible in a large public gathering. The state he is traveling to is a Hindu hotbed and is very contrarian to the Gospel. Pray for Stephen’s safety, pray for him to be an effective communicator, and pray for the safety of Susan and the girls as they remain back in Guntakal.
2. Stephen and his team continue to press forward in hiring teachers and classroom assistants for the upcoming school year so that they will be able to offer English-immersion education to students through 5th grade. Pray for continued favor in the community as St. Paul’s recruits new students for the next academic year. Please pray that God will provide the right people to fill the teaching positions in His time. You can pray specifically that God would provide a headmaster for the school for next school year so that Stephen can be freed up to continue developing and training leaders and pastors.
3. As construction continues on the facilities, Stephen’s time is torn between preaching / teaching, training pastors, maintaining / training teachers, offering ‘headmaster’ oversight at the school, and managing the work crews. He often sleeps less than four hours per night. Pray for his health and stamina. Pray for his family – that they would continue to deepen in unity. Pray for his ability to identify, develop and empower new leaders in the organization.
4. Stephen and Susan are excellent parents. Their kids love and respect them. Their family as a whole would do anything to see the Gospel spread in India. Pray that Stephen and Susan would steward the gifts of their children well. Pray that they would continue to raise them in knowledge and fear of the Lord and that their kids would be beacons of light in their school.
5. Lastly, pray for the Village Church Pastors that Stephen is training and equipping. These men and women are on the front lines of reaching India with the Gospel. They often live off of less than $50 / month – much of that earned through a separate vocation in addition to pastoring the small village churches. Pray for the believers in their care – that they would continue to grow in their faith and that the Gospel would take root deep in them, but also in the surrounding community. Pray for their endurance in the face of great persecution.
A Personal Note
It was a great joy to be able to lead a team to visit Stephen and see the progress on St. Paul’s Public School. It was also an honor to get to teach and meet with 35+ of the Village Church Pastors that Stephen has trained at a two-day pastor’s conference. It was lots of fun to visit and worship with believers in two villages that are being impacted by pastors that Stephen has trained. It was extremely humbling to represent you and offer ‘words of greeting and encouragement’ to our brothers and sisters that are worshiping Jesus in the midst of a difficult (and even oppressive) culture. And it was a great joy to stand and speak with the parents of the kids who attend St. Paul’s – to see the hope in their eyes that the education at St. Paul’s could be the ticket to changing their family lines.
All of that to say, thank you. Thank you for your generosity of money in support of our work in India, but also for the generosity of trust in allowing me to lead our team to continue to deepen our partnership with Stephen and Grace Endearment Mission Services.