Teaching English & the Gospel on Helene
“I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.” - Jeremiah 29:11
Our Helene Christian English School (HCES) emphasizes godly character building as well as academics under the banner of Jeremiah 29:11.
Helene Christian English School Background
In the early years of the Helene mission, the islanders requested an English speaking school for their children, mainly because English is the primary language for Helene. The early foundations of the school, and its continued growth, were built with the partnerships of many churches and individuals with monumental efforts in construction, volunteer time, and donation of educational materials. From a first year enrollment of 25 students, Helene Christian English School (HCES) has continued to grow to an current annual enrollment of 105 children, for grades Pre-K though 6th grade.
HCES originated as a missionary operated and missionary taught school, but over the past few years, as island wide community development efforts continue to succeed, all the teacher positions are now held by islanders. The school board is comprised of only islanders and currently there is only one missionary teacher, Sheila Benson.
For $200 a year, you can co-sponsor a child to have a better life through education.
As part of the community development over the years, HCES has moved from 100% MEI funding to a 30% funding partnership between parents of students and MEI for the tuition expense, which pays for teacher salaries. MEI provides facilities, operating expenses, materials, one new curriculum each school year and annual teacher training.
The Helene Christian English School providing hope
Hope is a future that can be imagined with the understanding our expectations can in some way be fulfilled. I have seen people without hope. People who are so hopeless do not think about the future and better days. These thoughts do not seem to be an option. They often feel like that there is no way out. Hope is a word that has little or no meaning. Many of us do not know what it is like to live without hope. Many of us were born into a home with hope and we just caught it from our family members. If you have always had it, it is hard to feel what it is like to live without it. When we see it in others, it is hard for us to identify.
Helene has been a place where many have lived for years without hope. Often they have lived in fear, lived without, lived with a wish and a desire, but not a solid hope. The bible is clear about hope. Hope is often associated with faith and love – “Faith, hope, and love abide, these three;” (1 Corinthians 13:13). It seems to be a triad in scripture that is not easily broken.
When people who have had no hope start to sense hope again; the responses are amazing. I recently had one of those amazing moments. HCES, sponsored by MEI and administered by locals, had an amazing moment of returning hope. In October, 2015 we celebrated 14 graduates. It was a great night of students sharing their feelings, thanking parents for sending them to school, enjoying special food treats, and receiving presents.
Then it happened, parents were asked if they had anything to share. I sat their amazed as a parent took the microphone and said. “In the past, we have been robbed, we have been forced into things we did not like, we have been living in fear, we have felt empty with no hope. But today, I realize that what has been taught at the school about Jesus has brought hope back into our lives and what has been taught here no one can take it from you.” Here was a parent that now sensed hope and saw it as Jesus. Their child spoke of their future as if they now had one and they do.
For the next 45 minutes, parent after parent came forward and spoke about hope. It was amazing. In Romans 12:12 it says “be joyful in hope.” 15:13 says it more clearly, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be to the praise of His glory.
Hope is full of joy and easy to be carried with you. It is not extra baggage; it is a hope that abides within. Hope can be shared. It can be given away. Hope is more caught than taught. Join us as we share THE HOPE of JESUS, the source of our hope.
Larry Benson – February 2016