June 24, 2014

The Transforming Power of Christ-centred Education

Blog Archives:

Earlier this year the Waterdown Family HANDS team travelled to Belize. They learned firsthand what it means to serve and be served. Not only were they a blessing to Cornerstone but they certainly felt blessed by all those at Cornerstone.  

HANDS team member, Sara Schenkel, wrote the following as she reflected on the impact of Christ-centred education on the teachers and students of Cornerstone Presbyterian High School.

Waterdown Family HANDS team – Belize 2014

Cornerstone Presbyterian High School is supported by Presbyterian Church Schools in Belize and partners with a number of ministries including EduDeo Ministries.  Our team had the wonderful opportunity to work at Cornerstone for a week and to get to know the staff and students there. 

Why is Christian education at Cornerstone so important?  Why does EduDeo support this school and many others like it?  Because we know that presenting the gospel and showing the love of Christ as well as providing an education to students who might not have the opportunity has the potential to transform lives. 

We learned from the Principal, Mr. Albert Zantingh, that Cornerstone has a large percentage of students that have significant behavioural and academic challenges.  High Schools in Belize actively seek students who do well on their gr. 8 exams and students who struggle find themselves having a hard time getting into a school.  Cornerstone welcomes these students and in some cases, it is the only chance that a student may have to receive a High School education.  This, along with the fact that they learn about the Lord makes Cornerstone a very special place.

I had the privilege of a few conversations with one of Cornerstone’s teachers, Mrs. Carman Cardenas.  Carman teaches Accounting, Business and Computer and joined the staff a year ago. She has been a teacher for many years and has had the opportunity to teach in a number of schools.  She is a seasoned teacher who came to Cornerstone feeling confident in her abilities.  She said that this has been her toughest year ever and it has made her lose some confidence in herself.  As a teacher myself, I could empathize with her having had a similar experience filling in last minute for 5 months for a difficult class that tested my limits.  It shakes you up when your usual discipline methods don’t work well and your teaching techniques aren’t getting through to all the students.  You have to work harder at finding new approaches and getting to the heart of your students. 

Despite the challenges that Carman faces she said that Cornerstone is where her heart is the fullest.  It’s the toughest job but it’s the best job.  The joy that she feels at having the opportunity to reach kids, show them the love of Christ and give them opportunities that they may never have had far outweigh the challenges.

Mr. Alberto Acosta teaches Math, Bible and Spanish.  He has been teaching at Cornerstone for a number of years.  One morning, I was able to sit in on Alberto’s Bible doctrine class.  After the class was dismissed we had a conversation about his work at Cornerstone, the different jobs that he has had and his hopes for the future. 

Alberto feels strongly about the importance of Christian education and is thankful for the ability to teach the students about the Bible and the Reformed faith in particular.  The majority of the students at Cornerstone are not committed Christians and some quite openly tell Alberto that they don’t believe in all this Bible stuff and they challenge him. 

He tells them that he’s not forcing them to believe but they have to learn what he’s teaching them because that is what is required of them while they attend this school.  He tells them that they are entitled to have their own beliefs.  This usually keeps him and the challenging student from getting into heated discussions.  What he hopes and prays for is that the Lord will work in the student’s heart so that the Bible and its truths begin to change their lives and they come to know God and His saving work in Jesus.  He knows it is not his job to convert the students but that he is just a tool in the work and plans of a Sovereign God.

The stories of Carman and Alberto and our time with all the staff and students at Cornerstone showed us how vital and important Christian education is.  It is wonderful that EduDeo has the opportunity to support this school and that families like ours can be a part of that work.  It was a privilege and a blessing to see God’s work in Belize.

Sara Schenkel


Leave a comment
Email address will
not be published
Required field.
Required, don't worry, it will not be published.
Please include a comment!
Keep in mind, all comments are public.