When it comes to hiring new employees at Esperanza International, one of Edify’s microfinance partners in the Dominican Republic, they have a poignant modo, “We want someone with the heart of a pastor and the mind of a banker.” This is critical to operating a Christian microfinance organization. Likewise, when running a low-cost Christian school we see that the truly sustainable, transformational schools are those who have leaders with the heart of a pastor, but the mind of a businessperson. They employ a strategic approach to operating a school on a shoestring budget, but deliver an academic “product” that often surpasses what is available in the public school systems and more importantly they share the transforming love of Christ in the classroom each day.
Sharing Christ’s love and the gospel message in a school is more difficult and more complicated than simply providing a good academic education. The message and life of the gospel is shared through people and relationships, thus having leaders and teachers who are committed to changing the mindset of their students is crucial.
Tomás Ramirez of the school Hogar Cristiano Buenas Nuevas (Good News Christian Home ) is an inspiring example of a school owner that has committed to transforming students lives through transforming the school’s teachers. Tomás is the owner and director of the school as well as the pastor of the adjacent church, Iglesia De Cristo. Every morning at 7:30 am Monday through Friday the 10 teachers, 2 administrators & Tomás meet in a small room on the first floor of the school for a 30-minute Bible study before they gather the students to raise the flag and say their prayers. Every morning they gather together to read scriptures and better understand how God’s Word is to shape their lives and the lives of their students. One can also see that the discipline that begins with teachers and school administrators is also clearly reflected in the attitudes and behavior of the students.
Tomás’s ability to grow the school from a 2-room shack into the beautiful 3 story building with nothing other than his personal savings, income from the school and a small loan from Edify’s partner, ASPIRE speaks loudly to his business acumen. Considering the fact that Tomás lives in a low-income area where many parents can only afford to pay half of the tuition (full monthly tuition is $19), the story becomes more impressive. His ability to run a low-cost school while keeping Christ’s love central to the mission of the school and in the heart of the teachers is inspiring.