For tribal people living in remote villages in the southeast Asian nation where Paul and Kim work, limited freedom of movement and lack of opportunities can result in people falling prey to traffickers and those in the drug trade. Paul and Kim’s city-based school – which provides vocational training courses, as well as English classes – meets a real need by giving people career training and an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty in their lives.
Vocational training courses – which prepare students for employment in either the housekeeping or bakery industries – also comprise a strong focus on Christian studies and daily devotions. The aim is to bring the Gospel into the daily lives of students, while equipping and empowering them to become leaders in their local churches once they return home; as Paul explains:
“Students arrive at our school as unbelievers or nominal Christians. They don't really have a relationship with Jesus even though there is normally a church in or near their village. Bible studies and church leadership are part of their course and they are taught to run Sunday school, youth programs and outreach events in and for churches in the local area. They also have daily devotional times at the student homes in which they live.
“Most students want to become believing Christians and get baptised, and they all see the benefits of running programs for … village kids and youth [back home] … [In fact,] the churches in which the kids’ programs are run have all experienced growth, and we are often asked by rural church leaders to run outreach programs for them.
“I think this model is successful because of the amount of time we invest into our students and staff. Seeing how Jesus impacts people’s lives for the positive is easy to see, and many students become Christians quickly. But to grow and develop character takes time. People make mistakes, slip into old habits, buckle under pressure, and shy from responsibilities.
“Continued support, encouragement and guidance has developed a good level of Christian maturity in our staff, and they in turn are becoming leaders in their own right both at church and work.”
When Jamie first joined Paul and Kim’s vocational training program, he was struggling in his Christian walk. While he knew about God and had some experience of faith, he was the first to admit he wasn’t a strong Christian. He also struggled with drugs.
Today, with the help of this life-changing program, Jamie not only has a new profession and a steady job; he’s found a real and lasting relationship with Jesus.
“When I came, I lived with teacher Paul,” Jamie explains. “We did Bible study every morning, bakery studies during the day and we helped the churches at the weekends. Studying was very difficult but I enjoyed the work. Now I love God and I have a relationship with Him. I have stopped taking drugs and smoking, and I write my own worship songs.
I am now the Bakery Manager for [the school’s café] and I look after the new students. I asked to look after them so I could help them to have a relationship with God too. I lead a prayer meeting with them each week and I drive them to churches, so they can teach Sunday school.
[This program] helps people to know God and helps us to get jobs. Thank you very much.”