How an International School is bringing Hope to a Hurting World
By Megan Sarian- OMF (USA) Content Manager
On the day I visit HOPE International School, bright, hand-painted artwork decorates the walls. A teacher greets me wearing a soccer jersey and a cloth bandage wrapped around his head. He’s imitating a storybook character in honour of ‘Book Week’. The children also have new identities. One child struts with his cape while a young girl proudly shows off her dog costume.
“Our children don’t usually have tails,” jokes Elizabeth Shin, HOPE’s Office and HR Manager.
Dressing-up may not be a daily thing, but the levity of the scene speaks to a work of God that takes place every day within the school’s walls.
HOPE International School invests in the next generation of world-changers. It provides quality, Christ-centred education for the children of missionaries and international Christian workers.
A number of missionary families wanted to see their children taught from a biblical worldview, but this option was unavailable. Their solution was to establish HOPE school in 2002. Now the school has grown to 350 students from 35 different countries. It spans two campuses, one in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, from preschool through year 12.
The school has international accreditation, including the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and the International Baccalaureate (IB). It’s also an accredited University of Cambridge International Examination Centre. Students graduate with the qualifications needed to apply to a broad range of universities in many countries.
HOPE provides a quality education, but more than that it helps sustain the work of God’s global church.
“Christian workers often leave their country of service for three main reasons: health issues, financial challenges or their children’s education” says Malcolm Pirie, Phnom Penh Primary Principal. “We’re helping solve one of those issues.”
Helping missionaries thrive
For Judy and Simon Collins, along with their three children, what HOPE provides is no small blessing. They came from New Zealand eight months ago to serve with OMF Cambodia. HOPE has been a vital part of their kids’ successful transition.
“Coming to Cambodia with a family, we initially thought we were taking a big risk,” Simon says.
“But we’re so fortunate to have HOPE school. Because of HOPE, we can worry less about our kids and focus more on what God has for us here.”
The Collins family have critical roles that contribute to the safety and well-being of the entire OMF Cambodia team. Simon serves as Field Medical Advisor, overseeing the health of OMF workers there. Judy recently took up the role of Child Safety Officer for OMF Cambodia. She ensures that measures are in place to protect the children in OMF workers’ care.
In Cambodia, when missionaries and their children thrive, that strength is sown into a nation in need.
The gospel for Cambodia
The precious opportunity to bring God’s message of love to Cambodia is not lost on HOPE families or the teachers who have come to serve them. Despite the Pol Pot era, the nation preserved its Buddhist beliefs. 95 percent of Cambodians identify as Buddhist and 1 to 2 percent Christian.
“We need people who really believe in the gospel for Cambodia,” says Teacher John Kennedy, who has taught at HOPE for 11 years. He feels strongly that those who simply crave adventure or an easy job need not apply. But, for those who want to support the work of God in Cambodia, “This place is essential” John states.
More than just a teacher
HOPE’s administrators prayerfully select educators who have both experience in the classroom as well as a heart to encourage students spiritually.
Michael Emery, a HOPE chemistry teacher from the U.K., values the opportunity he’s been given to walk with teens at a critical point in their faith journeys.
“I came here assuming that missionary kids had their faith figured out. But they’re starting to become more independent and explore their beliefs on their own,” Michael says. “As teachers, we get to help them through that and provide a safe space for them to ask questions.”
Hope for Cambodia and beyond
No matter where they end up, students at HOPE have been uniquely equipped to extend God’s healing to those around them.
Praise God for the important role HOPE International School fills in God’s global church. Pray for God’s continued provision for the school as it nurtures the next generation.
HOPE is actively looking for educators to fill positions for the 2019-2020 school year. To look at the list of openings, visit www.hope.edu.kh/current-opportunities.