BUILDING A SCHOOL: WITH THE COMMUNITY, FOR THE COMMUNITY
by David Chan, Principal of St Paul Methodist School and MMS Missionary in Timor-Leste.
St Paul Methodist School (SPMS) was established by MMS in 2016. It started with 18 Grade 7 students. Today, six years later, we have a full 12 Grades school of an enrolment of nearly 500 students. Our first batch of Grade 12 students had graduated last year. To accommodate the student numbers, we are running on three different school hours and are currently operating out of three different locations. This has created manpower and logistical constraints.
We are thankful that the construction of a permanent home for SPMS is about to begin, and we anticipate moving into the new building next October! We will finally be able to gather as a full school – to have morning assemblies and devotions together, and learning and playing as one body. We thank God for all the individuals, cell groups, churches, and organisations in Singapore that have given generously to the school development fund and have covered us in prayer. The building of the first Methodist school in Timor-Leste would not be possible without the body of Christ coming together.
I am also very thankful that the Timorese community is very supportive of the work we do at SPMS, and many local partners are actively involved in our school initiatives. For example, I was greatly encouraged that parents and students feel a deep sense of ownership over the school, and want to contribute to the building project. Just recently in August, a group of parents decided to organise a fund-raising dinner, which was spearheaded by Ps Acy, a local pastor whose children are studying in our school. The parents aimed to have 20 tables at the dinner to raise US$5,000 for the school building project. It was an ambitious target considering that the average wage in Timor-Leste is less than US$160 a month.
It was heartwarming to see many parents and students cooking for and serving 250 people during the dinner. From this dinner initiated and led by the parents, the fund raised exceeded the target; US$16,500 was raised with US$11,000 coming from local donors, and the remainder from friends in Singapore. Praise God for the many supporters in Timor-Leste and Singapore who are sowing into the next generation of Timorese!
An unexpected surprise also came recently from a parent who had heard about our building project. One day, I received a text message saying he wanted to help in the building of the school by donating 50 sacks of cement. Before I could even thank him, he said he had already arranged for us to collect the cement whenever we needed it. Praise God! The generosity of such a practical gift is a great affirmation that the local community believes in the work and vision of the school.
We are grateful for all in Timor-Leste and Singapore who have come alongside us in the building project. We pray and believe that the support given by community leaders and parents affirms God’s call for SPMS to be a blessing and a light in Timor-Leste. To God be the glory!
1. Pray for David to be continually strengthened to lead his staff and school, even as he teaches.
2. Pray for the teachers and staff to be refreshed and reminded of their greater calling to impact young lives for the kingdom.
3. Pray for the construction of the new SPMS building to commence soon. Pray for a safe and smooth construction process, especially during the upcoming monsoon period.
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