A Burlington, Ont.-based organization, which will be the recipient of funds raised at the Feb. 10 With Love Comes Hope concert in Hamilton, is working in 51 countries around the world to combine education and mission with the goal of ensuring everyone has access to Christian education.
Worldwide Christian Schools was founded in the mid-1980s in Grand Rapids, Mich. and a sister Canadian organization was incorporated in 1994. It grew out of a desire by Christian business people, who had travelled to several countries in which WWCS now operates, to provide help and hope for children so they could break out of the cycle of poverty and despair in which they were trapped.
“We basically use education as a way to bring the Gospel to children,” said Hank de Jong, executive director of Worldwide Christian Schools Canada. “Ultimately, it’s our hope, through the grace of God, to provide hope for eternity through knowledge of Jesus Christ.”
WWCS fulfills its mission through three major programs. HANDS (Help Another Nation Develop Schools) sends out groups of volunteers, men and women, young and old, to build schools in lesser-developed countries.
“We have 23 teams lined up for 2007 already,” said de Jong. “We concentrate on Central America for our HANDS teams … Honduras, Nicaragua, Belize, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.”
A second program, school sponsorship, provides operating funds to ensure schools can continue after they are built. Around 35 Canadian Christian schools participate in this program. WWCS does not own or operate any schools, but rather, partners with existing Christian communities that do.
Finally, Walking Together is a recently started program that sends experienced teachers from North America to work with indigenous – and frequently, ill-trained and ill-equipped – teachers in developing countries. They work together to improve the quality and effectiveness of instruction.
“One of our goals is that, if one of these children goes to school and somehow ends up rising to power … (he or she) can begin to change some things,” said de Jong. “It’s a big dream and a prayer … If you change an individual, you can change a community and hopefully, change a country.”
For the future, WWCS would like to join with new partners and build collaborations with other organizations. “We’ve been getting into Africa the last little while,” said de Jong. “There is an Africa roundtable that has been set up for the end of March 2007. The goal is to bring one leader in the educational field from each of the 52 African countries to this roundtable to strategize on how to move Christian education forward in Africa … There are 130 million children in the world who do not have a chance to go to school. If we can fill that void with Christian education, our mission would be accomplished.”
The With Love Comes Hope concert is just one of the vehicles WWCS uses to raise funds for its work. On Dec. 22 at Central Presbyterian Church in Hamilton, a Christmas singalong was held before a full house, with proceeds going to WWCS. The organization also has a director of ministry development and boasts strong support from the business community. More than 70 Canadian churches also contribute regularly to WWCS’s work and individuals act as additional donors.
WCS is a registered charity and donations to it are tax deductible. For more information, you can go to the website www.wwcs.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (905) 333-4430.