As international borders began to reopen and Australians started to travel again, LCA International Mission offered staff representatives from Lutheran Education Australia schools with partnerships with Indonesian schools to travel together to Indonesia to re-establish personal connections and explore changes that may need to be made for future student visits.
Two staff from Victory Lutheran College in Wodonga, three staff from Grace Lutheran College in Rothwell and Caboolture, two staff from Endeavour College in Mawson Lakes, one staff from Navigator College in Port Lincoln and two staff from St Martins Lutheran College in Mount Gambier embarked on the journey with LCA International Mission in April.
Most of the time was spent with the schools reconnecting with their own partnerships, however, there also were several opportunities for the Australians to gather to learn from one another and share ideas.
At the end of our stay, each Indonesian school with an Australian partner and those Australian schools visiting Indonesia did a workshop together, at which we discussed the importance of having a shared vision to clarify the purpose and intended outcomes of the partnership and to provide focus, motivation and a gauge for evaluation along the journey.
The schools were reminded that a good reason to be in a partnership takes advantage of the skills, resources and gifts of each partner, highlighting why each partner needs the other and what can be gained only through partnership.
We also explored how to effectively express God’s love to those who are different from us, through the development of cultural intelligence.
As I spent time visiting with several schools and speaking with the Australian staff, I reflected on the immense responsibility that school staff have to enrich the lives of the young people in their care.
And, as I watched an Australian principal join an Indonesian primary school class in their morning aerobics without any hesitation, and an Australian teacher singing in Indonesian (a language unknown to him other than a few words) in front of several hundred Indonesian students without any delay, and a softly-spoken Australian educator unleash his inner dancer at the invitation of his Indonesian school partner staff without waver, I thanked God for his call and equipping of these incredibly likable and gifted staff.
These staff are not just interested in passing on information or facts to their students. They also are allowing the Holy Spirit to give them all they need to encourage the students as they are transformed by the Holy Spirit’s love, grace and the renewing of their hearts and minds.
These staff are creating spaces where the students know they belong, are embraced, and are enabled to encounter the alive and almighty God in a real and personal way.
These staff are giving students opportunities to explore and grow in the gifts that they discover God has blessed them with.
These staff are praying they are equipped with all they need to be patient and loving and generous with their time for the students and are remembering the students in their prayers.
While we travelled together, the staff modelled the value of learning. Those who were in Indonesia for the first time valued and sought wisdom from those who had more experience with school partnerships.
Those who were seasoned school partnership participants were open and willing to offer their insights and knowledge.
Each staff member understood the importance of seeking to grow and listening to understand, and each one put aside their differences and broke down the language and cultural barriers and misconceptions, enabling them to build relationships with one another.
Grace Lutheran College staff reflected on their time away, describing the school partnership tour as ‘both challenging and inspiring’.
‘Being immersed in Indonesian culture challenged us to consider our lives from a different perspective and equipped us with a different lens for cultural reflection’, they said.
‘Coming alongside our Indonesian friends helped us to understand the difficulties and blessings they experience and inspired us to grow in the hospitality, freedom and hope that they so boldly display.
‘Grace Lutheran College has been greatly blessed by our partnership with the HKBP schools in Sidikalang (North Sumatra) and Lawe Sigala-gala (Aceh), and we’ve had the joy of being a blessing to our partner schools also. We would highly recommend that Australian Lutheran schools investigate partnering with a Lutheran school in Indonesia, our close northern neighbours.’
Staff from St Martins Lutheran College appreciated being able to sit and talk with experienced partner school representatives before visiting with their own partner schools.
‘Hearing their ideas and the things that have or have not worked was good and also enabled us to reaffirm some of the things we were doing’, St Martins staff members said.
‘The most important lesson from our overseas experience was the value of listening to our partner school’s story. We can’t necessarily fix all their challenges, but we can be a great support and encouragement.’
LCA International Mission offers school partnerships that aim to:
- Develop friendships with people whose lives have been transformed by the gospel, enabling enriched cultural sharing and space for prayer for and encouragement of one another in the journey of faith.
- Provide opportunities for students to serve and be served by others, look beyond themselves and put the school’s faith and values into practice.
- Be aware of the challenges of living in a majority-world country and experiencing the perseverance, generosity and hospitality of those who live in these circumstances.
- Enrich the students through gaining a deeper understanding of another culture and developing skills in engaging with people who have different cultures.
- Allow students studying Indonesian to visit their partner schools as a motivation for them to improve their language comprehension.
- Offer teacher professional development.
- Create occasions, such as social and fundraising events, for staff and students to work together in their own school community and form connections to their wider community.
Erin Kerber is LCA International Mission Program Officer.
If you are interested in exploring how you can connect to the mission of God through an LCA International Mission service-learning and ministry school partnership, please phone Erin on 08 8267 7300 or email email@example.com