(Project EdSend is a subset of Teachers in Service, Inc.)
The purpose of Project EdSend is to address the college loan repayment issue for new MK teachers just out of college. The issue is that many prospective MK teachers have college education monthly loan repayments that prohibit them from becoming MK teachers. EdSend is a program in which these monthly loan repayments will be assumed by third parties in exchange for the teacher going to the mission field to teach children of missionaries. Filling these vacancies would mean fewer missionaries would have to assume the role of teachers (leaving their own work undone) and fewer would have to leave the field, the result being the spreading the Word of God in a more effective way. Project EdSend connects the ministries of MK teachers with the ministries of individuals who are financially able to help - those key people who understand that their financial support will make a significant impact on the Kingdom's work.
Why Is There a Need for Project EdSend?
The number of MK teacher vacancies for all mission agencies, worldwide, is considerable. Some schools begin the year without a full teaching staff, and some with unqualified teachers. And sometimes the need is so great that missionaries have to be pulled from their own specialized work to serve as teachers. Project EdSend exists to help prevent such scenarios.
Mission agency recruiters note that a significant number of students enrolled in schools of education on Christian campuses express an interest in serving as MK teachers, yet only a small percentage actually do so.
The reasons? There are several but one big one is that mission agencies have debt limits and many teachers' college loans exceed this limit. Time after time, college loans get in the way of new teachers going to the mission field.
The typical prospective MK teacher graduates from college, takes a teaching job, and spend several years paying off college loans. All too often, after a few years these young teachers become immersed in the world around them and their passion to teach MK children fades. Too many of them never go to the mission field. Paying off college loans, then, is vital for getting MK teachers to the field.
The Critical Role of MK Teachers on the Mission Field
A Word From Mission Agency Administrators:
Cameron Townsend, founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators, said, "We must invest heavily in our kids' education.... If we don't, just when our parents are most productive they will leave us to attend to their kids' schooling."
Bob Pittman, former Director of International Children's Education, Wycliffe Bible Translators, said, "Children's education is one of the top reasons missionaries leave the field. If children's education needs are not being met, families will leave the field. Does this mean that the work stops? In some places, yes. More often, however, there is someone else to take their place. So what is the problem? In Bible translation it takes six to ten years for a replacement to get from the pew to the next verse that needs translation, and the cost to the church [in the larger context] is around $250,000!”
Bob Cresson, President, Wycliffe USA, said, "God led us to commit [in 2000] to the humanly impossible goal of Vision 2025 -- to see Bible translation in progress for every language group that needs it by the year 2025. . . . A new translation used to start every 18 days. . . . Since adopting Vision 2025 a new translation is started every five days. What will it take to see Vision 2025 accomplished? It will take more of God's people coming together in prayer, in giving, and in volunteering to serve as teachers, managers, information technology (IT) professionals and more." [emphasis added]
A Word From Missionaries on the Field
The mission administrators quoted above understand the critical need for MK teachers. So do missionaries on the front lines. They know first hand that teachers can be the determining factor in keeping them on the mission field. Here's what they say:
“. . .Many in the States have no idea what missionary families face when it comes to schooling their children. . . It has been said by well meaning [missionaries] that if their children cannot be educated either at home or in a nearby school, they would leave the mission field or never go in the first place. The encouraging news is that there are educators who have given their lives to follow Jesus onto the mission field to minister to a very special group. What is this group that in past decades may have been overlooked . . . ? Missionary Kids! . . . This group of educator missionaries has a special calling and their obedience to their calling has brought blessing and help to missionaries like us who labor in other ways.”
“Without this option [an MK boarding school staffed with MK teachers], we would have left the field three years ago and Mukinge Hospital would have been without a medical director at a very crucial turning point in the history of the hospital. Because we did have this option, we were able to see the hospital through its next transition stage.”
From Papua New Guinea
“Teachers definitely make a difference in our lives! We are [Bible] translators and we could never make it in the village without our teachers. We have the best system in the world where the teachers prepare the lessons for [our kids while we're in the] village and they come up on the radio. If I had to plan the whole year myself, I would not have time for anything else. . . . We have a child with special needs. . . and we are so happy to have special education teachers here to oversee his load and help teachers adjust. I can't imagine life here without our excellent teachers. We probably would have burnt out a long time ago without them.”
“Besides providing each of our children a quality education, [MK teachers have] allowed us to be more involved in the local work on the mission hospital, maintenance, and village work. . . . We are thankful first and foremost for their godly influence on our children, for their willingness to invest their lives in being an example and then guiding and training them in the things of the Lord, while also giving a quality education.”
“. . . I actually prayed and thought about this exact type of thing! MK Teacher Scholarship Fund! [EdSend] Wow! I would daydream. . .that if God would drop a million dollars in my lap, I would use it to help future missionaries pay off their student loans and get them to the field. It took us over seven years to pay off [my wife] Stacy's loans while I was an officer in the Army. While . . . in preparation to come to Rift Valley Academy (RVA), we knew that this burden that loomed above us had to be removed before we could go to Kenya with Africa Inland Mission.”
A Word from MK Teachers
Both mission agency administrators and missionaries understand the critical need for MK teachers. And MK teachers understand it, too. They recognize their key role in spreading the Word of God. Following is a story from an MK teacher:
“A couple of weekends ago a few of our staff members attended the Duruma New Testament dedication down on the coast [of Kenya]. Getting there required eight and a half hours in a bus on a bumpy road, followed by an overnight in Mombasa, a ferry ride in the morning, and another hour and a half bus ride. One teacher relayed the story:
“ 'The dedication was long (six hours) and boring (not all of it was translated so I understood only half of it) but it was also exciting!' Not being able to understand half of the ceremony myself underscores the importance of Bible translation. Without the Bible in their own language the Duruma people have not been able to understand much of the Bible, and now they can! It was thrilling to watch the Bibles being carried into the dedication area. Women carried the boxes on their heads and men escorted them, waving fresh-cut tree limbs. The boxes were opened and we glimpsed the black-bound, red-paged Bibles before a prayer of dedication. Three passages of Scriptures were read in Duruma before the Bible was given to each of the 20 or so pastors of the region. It was incredible to witness and to think on each of those pastors receiving the Bible in their own language, to read and meditate on and to preach from. One final vivid memory I have is that bright red strip under so many arms as we passed people heading home. As we [MK teachers] provide a good education it frees parents to do the translation-related work they have been called to Africa to do, which helps people such as the Duruma have Scriptures in their own language. That's why I'm here!'” [emphasis added]
The Problem: Too Few MK Teachers
Recruitment efforts for MK teachers is an ongoing effort. Despite all the effort and funding there are still many MK teacher openings around the world at any given time. The result: Too many MK schools have an inadequate number of teachers, and those teachers who remain have to work harder. This is particularly true for some schools because of their location; some are almost always in a crisis situation with regard to teachers.
Bob Creson, President of Wycliffe USA, said, "Maintaining sufficient numbers of teachers has always been a challenge but recently the need has become even greater because the number of missionaries and the number of 'sending countries' is increasing." Those increasing numbers of missionaries almost always bring children who need an education, and that means we need more MK teachers
One Mission Agency's Effort to Address
The College Loan Repayment Issue
The concept of addressing the college loan issue that enables missionaries to go to the field is not new. A sister organization, MedSend, was begun in 1995 to assist health care missionaries get to the field by assumption of their college loans on a monthly basis by third parties. In recent years the cost of a college education has risen dramatically; this has had a significant negative impact on prospective teachers of missionary children. In too many cases, paying off college loans prevents them from going to the mission field.
Wycliffe Bible Translators utilizes a portion of an endowment from the Straub Foundation to assist a limited number of new MK teachers with their college loans. This model has been very successful in helping Wycliffe's MK teachers get to the field, who otherwise may never have gone.
Following are testimonials by Straub Fund recipients:
From Papua New Guinea
“Thank you for granting me this wonderful scholarship! I recently graduated from Hope College in Holland, MI, with a BA in language arts and an elementary education teaching certificate. My husband and I have been working to pay off my loan this past year, but haven't been able to completely pay it of since we are also taking classes and training for our overseas assignment. Because of your gift I do not have to wait, but can respond to the need for a teacher now!. . . . I'm excited about this wonderful opportunity that God has given me and encouraged by your support of teachers, children, and missionaries. . . . I am so grateful for your generosity. Thank you for sharing and helping to make this possible.”
“What a blessing you are! Your generosity is uplifting and inspiring. As a teacher preparing for missionary service, it's encouraging to find people who are willing to invest in my ministry. It's inspiring to see how God works through others to accomplish his purpose in my life and in the lives of those to whom I will be ministering. . . . This grant is a wonderful, unexpected blessing. I have many friends from college who feel called to the mission field but could not go right away because of school loans. The fact that someone understands this situation and has been led by God to help in this specific area is proof of how awesome our God is and how he supplies our every need. Thank you and may you be richly blessed for your generosity and faithfulness.”
Not yet assigned
“I have just become a Wycliffe member. Reaching this point of membership has been quite a road to travel. Part of the challenge has been finances. Thank you for giving people like me the opportunity to travel that road and eventually serve the Lord on the foreign mission field. . . . Without this opportunity to receive student loan help I would have to extend my wait to serve the Lord in a foreign country. Thank you so much for extending that helping hand to people in need. I appreciate this chance to serve my God that you have allowed. Thank you again.”
From the Philippines
“We want to thank you for your very generous monthly contribution toward payment of our college loans. . . . This grant continues to be a tremendous blessing both to us and to our families. We praise the Lord that we are able to teach. . . . while continuing to pay off debt for the education it took to get us here. We have seen God working in the lives of our students and their parents as the work of spreading God's message spreads. Thank you for praying for our new marriage and for our continued teaching ministry. . . . We are truly thankful for you.”
The Problem: More Needs to be Done
(Other Mission Agencies' Needs Must Be Addressed.)
The Straub Foundation is an excellent financial resource for assisting a limited number of MK teachers to go overseas. However, it is limited to members of Wycliffe Bible Translators. Following is a letter from an MK teacher, who is an MK herself and now serves as a teacher with a different mission agency, Africa Inland Mission (AIM):
“My parents were missionary kids (MKs). . . . My parents knew, and now I know, too, that missionary kids can have a powerful influence on our world and society. . . . God is in the process of making today's MKs into tomorrow's leaders, leaders in both the US and around the world: doctors, educators, pastors, technicians, government officials, social workers, and more. Yes, MKs can use their heritage to glorify God, but an important aspect of their preparation is their teachers' understanding of missionary kids' minds, cultures, and life experiences. I feel strongly about the distinct input that I, and other adult MKs, can give to current students at RVA [Rift Valley Academy in Kenya] and at other MK schools. As an adult MK, I can impart knowledge and understanding that another teacher, without missionary kid experience, cannot. With my heritage, I'm well-equipped to help with missionary kids' adjustment, social interaction, and future leadership. I can sit down and chat with my students about their worries, their concerns and their fears because of my understanding of what they face in the next few years. I'm committed to helping missionary kids appreciate who they are, where they have come from, and how best to use their talents and their world perspectives. These are important foundations for the life-long success of an MK.
“With my background as an MK, I believe God has uniquely called me and equipped me to teach MKs and aid them in their transition to their passport countries. And yet, how do I pay for college loans? Currently I receive only 60% of the financial support I need to cover basic day-to-day expenses at RVA. My meager financial support prevents me from paying back school loans. I'm confident that the mission field is where God wants me to be, but my financial situation could force me to leave RVA and my ministry. What am I to do? My heart is in Africa with kids who are growing up as I did: missionary children. I want to provide a quality education for them, and to show them the beauty of their heritage and how to use it for the glory of God. Lack of money is the only obstacle keeping me from fulfilling God's purpose for my life. In the past I have seen Him overpower similar obstacles in mighty and unique ways. I'm looking to Him now to do just that. While I wait and watch what He will do, I will continue to serve and strive for excellence in His sight.”
The Solution: Project EdSend
Project EdSend, a program to address college loan repayment for MK teachers, is modeled after the time-tested and successful MedSend program for health care missionaries and the Straub Foundation for a limited number of MK teachers with Wycliffe. (Essentially, Project EdSend applies proven concepts to a new population.) Project EdSend works with prospective MK teachers who have not been able to complete the application process to become MK teachers because of debt issues, one of which is their college loan repayment. Once this is assumed on a monthly basis by third parties and other debt issues are resolved (e.g. credit card, car payment) prospective teachers may complete the application process to become missionaries.
Project EdSend Needs YOU
You can play a key role in getting MK teachers to the mission field in a timely manner by partnering with Project EdSend. Your financial support for MK teachers will have a widespread impact on carrying out the Great Commission of Christ by contributing to keeping missionary families on the field. Mission agencies face a critical need for many MK teachers every year. Will you help?
Explore your involvement in Project EdSend by contacting Thom Votaw, Ed.D., President, Teachers In Service, Inc., (575) 523-0886 (h), (575) 649-6296 (c), firstname.lastname@example.org, 8920 N. Valley Dr., Las Cruces, NM, 88007.
Teachers In Service, Inc. is a nonprofit organization under the IRS code of 501 (c) (3).
Frequently Asked Questions
Question 1. Given the shortage of MK teachers, the turnover, and the problems in recruiting new teachers, the Word of God continues to go forth. Why should additional financial support be fed into a system that is already working and moving forward?
Answer:The system is not moving forward as well as it could if it had a sufficient number of MK teachers. According to the book, "Too Valuable to Lose," family issues and children's education are among the top reasons missionaries leave the field. Mission organizations consistently find that if children's education needs are not being met, families will leave the field. Does this mean that the work stops? In some places, yes.
Question 2.Will my financial support of an MK teacher affect the Kingdom and if so, how do you know this?
Answer:Unless we have a plan to reach the world with singles and retired folks, we have to meet the needs of the family. The biggest one is for children's education!
Question 3.Since the college loan repayment issue has been deemed important, why haven't the big mission organizations assumed that responsibility? Why has an unknown (Teachers In Service, Inc.) undertaken the job through Project EdSend that would logically fall under established, well known organizations?
Answer:One mission agency, Wycliffe Bible Translators, utilizes a portion of the proceeds from their Straub Foundation to assist a limited number of teachers with their college education loan repayment. Project EdSend, as a subset of Teachers In Service, Inc., works with all mission agencies and has the vision of a surplus of MK teachers, for all mission agencies, not just WBT.
Question 4.Since Wycliffe is using more and more nationals in the translation process [part of its Vision 2025] that would seem to indicate they would need fewer rather than more MK teachers from the U.S. Please explain.
Answer:While Wycliffe is using more nationals to do Bible translation, this does not mean we have fewer expatriates filling consultant and support roles. The fact is that we are getting more and more members from new sending countries, resulting in even larger children's education issues and financial challenges.
Question 5. Since more and more MK teachers are coming from other countries (e.g. Korea), it would seem like these other countries could or should be supplying more teachers and therefore we would not need more teachers from the U.S. Please explain.
These new sending countries are slow to understand their need to supply support workers such as teachers for their MKs. Korea has been sending missionaries for 20 some years yet only now are Korean churches beginning to see that MK teachers are real missionaries too. It will take a long time for these new sending countries to get on board with this.
Question 6. Why don't Christian colleges, especially those who have a strong missions orientation, make allowances for graduates who go to the mission field on the same basis that TIS is proposing through Project EdSend (loan payment assumption on a month by month basis)?
Answer:Good idea! Ask them.
Question 7. How many prospective MK teachers would actually take advantage of having their loans assumed by a third party?
Answer: Most of them.
Is money the real issue or are prospective MK teachers turned down for other reasons? What percentage are turned down because their college loan repayment amount is too much?
Answer: Teachers are turned down for all sorts of reasons: if they are not Christians; if they have a problem with pornography; if they aren't good teachers. A significant percentage of teachers are turned down because their loan repayment is too much, though the exact number is unknown.
Question 9. Since a few mission organizations and MK schools pay teachers a modest salary -- some of which could be used for education loan repayment -- why don't other mission organizations solve their teacher shortage problem in the same way?
Answer:Because it doesn't solve the problem; it only moves the problem. In order to pay teachers, MK schools have to charge more tuition. This means missionary families have to raise more support. A number of families find it hard enough already to raise their support. If tuition is raised significantly we'll lose those missionaries who can't raise enough additional support.