MEMPHIS, TENN. - Joe Hale was serving as a missionary in Korea when the first of his several children reached school age.
Ultimately, he felt led to start his own school. Soon parents from many national backgrounds began enrolling their children, paying tuition for the privilege of having their children taught in English.
That the children would also hear the gospel was understood, and a happy by-product for Hale and his small staff.
Interestingly, those students were not Korean children. Rather, they were the children of foreign diplomats, businessmen, and military personnel living in Seoul – influential internationals who recognized the importance of having their children speak fluent English.
The Seoul school was the first of what became the Network of International Christian Schools. Based in Southaven, Miss., the network now operates three schools in Korea, and others in Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, China, Ghana, Kenya, Brazil, Suriname, Peru, Bolivia, Germany, Afghanistan, and Turkey. And it’s doing it with the endorsement of the respective governments.
That may seem incredible, since Christians in some of those locations have felt the heavy hand of persecution. The key, Hale says, is that the network is not enrolling nationals. Hale says anti-Christian governments do not care if foreigners practice their own religions as long as they do not proselytize their nationals.
The end result, Hale says, is that the network easily reaches “children of influential people who have the potential to influence their own countries.”
The children may be Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or Jewish, but the parents know up front that these are Christian schools and that their children will be exposed to Christian doctrine. “They like the ethics and values” their children are taught, Hale says. National governments are happy because the need to educate internationals is met, parents are happy because other Englishspeaking schools are crowded and expensive, and missionaries (and their sending agencies) are happy because their children have a school.
And most important, some 40 to 60 percent of the students accept Christ each year. Their families embrace Christianity as well.
Parents returning to their own countries have petitioned their governments to allow the network to start schools there. Other agencies have asked the network to take over their schools – which is how the network acquired several schools where thousands of internationals have landed.
The schools have three ‘pillars of purpose,” he says. The first is evangelism. The second is to provide support for missionary families. The third is to provide a quality Christian education for all students. “This is a movement that God has initiated,” he says.
But there are needs. Establishing schools in expensive, although tuition fees eventually enable them to pay their own way. The network has not large backers, and is looking for Christian businessmen to help provide start-up funds. The network is also looking for teachers and administrators – both for short (two-year) commitments and career commitments. Teachers need a bachelor’s degree and teaching credentials.
Finally, such an undertaking requires prayer, and the network appreciates all prayer support.
For those interested in teaching or supporting the network contact is easy. Write to NICS, P.O. Box 1260 Southaven, MS 38671; call 1-800-887-6427; fax them at 662-796-1830; look up the web site at http://www.nics.org ; or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.