Seeing Education with New Eyes

Spencer Okoroafor, a Nigerian Christian school principal, firmly believes that his school needs to be grounded in a biblical worldview.

He’s attended several Christian education training workshops in recent years. Each time, he says, he’s found ways to apply what he learned to his school.

“While he could just tell the teachers what to do and change in their teaching and classrooms, he doesn’t see this as a reasonable solution,” says Sheila Dykstra, Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM) education consultant in West Africa, who led several of the trainings.

“He desires his teachers to actually change the way they think about Christian education as well. For him and others, this is a long process of walking alongside teachers, modeling new ways of doing things, providing trainings and dialogue opportunities for teachers to explore and be challenged.”

Okoroafor once had the school’s art teacher create a bulletin board that illustrated the story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. He then led each class to the bulletin board, explaining the biblical worldview and giving examples from their studies. When Dykstra visited the school’s fifth-grade classroom a week later, she saw an interesting change.

The class was studying mosquitoes that day. Before, the teacher would write the lesson notes on the board and the students would copy and later memorize the material. This day, however, the teacher led a discussion.

They talked about mosquitoes being created by God and having a purpose. They talked about sin’s effect on the world through itchy bites and malaria and what they as Christians could do to deal with some of those problems.

“This was a beautiful picture for me on so many levels,” says Dykstra. The teacher and her students weren’t seeing biblical worldview as an abstract concept, but as something intimately tied to their daily life.

Since few Christian universities in Africa have an education department, most African Christian school teachers have studied at secular universities and have never encountered a biblical perspective on education. They know their subjects, but they’ve never heard how their faith should impact their curricula or their care for students.

CRWM and its partners are helping to change this picture. Through workshops on Christian education, Christian school administrators and teachers across Africa are seeing Christian education with new eyes.

“As I sit in meetings with a group of teachers, I am in awe of their desire to see Christian education become a deeper reality in their schools, in their lives, and in Nigeria as a whole,” Dykstra says.

“We exchange ideas and ask questions, and the group takes initiative for their learning and personal development. They are ready to be distinct and set apart. They are ready to be used in service for God’s kingdom.

“May God speak to each of them about how he is calling them to be used as his ambassadors for God’s kingdom throughout Nigeria and even West Africa.”

About the Author

Sarah Van Stempvoort is a writer with Christian Reformed World Missions.
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