In February 1996, I started working with Ajuy Baptist Church as their project director for their school project, Ajuy Christian Development Learning Center.
Ajuy is a town in the northern area of Iloilo province, Philippines. It has a population of 52, 268 people (2015 census).
Fresh from my work with not-for-profit organisations, I was eager to apply what I visioned in 1992 in the context of the church ministry
Let me share a brief history of the church’s school project.
A brief background on Ajuy Baptist Church’s school project
Since the establishment of the Ajuy Baptist Church in 1939, Christian education has been primary in her ministry. Through Sunday schools and Vacation Bible Schools, Ajuy Baptist Church has inculcated Christian learning in the lives of children in Ajuy.
Ajuy Baptist Church, through the leadership of pastors and workers, has continuously supported the establishment of Nursery, Kinder 1 and 2 classes.
The increasing trend of pupil enrolment in the school year 1990-1991 made the church decide to buy a bigger site for their school. So, in 1991, Ajuy Baptist Church bought a 6,084 sq. m lot to accommodate the growing kinder school population.
In 1994, Ajuy Baptist Church began the construction of a two-storey, eight-roomed building with concrete roof deck on the lot bought in 1991. The construction of the school building stopped temporarily in January 1995 for lack of funds.
When the school year opened in June 1995, kindergarten classes were transferred from the church premises to the new school site even if the building was unfinished.
In June 1996, only 19 pupils enrolled because the school grounds, which were formerly rice fields, were undeveloped yet.
The challenges I faced as Project Director
So, when I started my work as Project Director in February 1996, I was faced with the following challenges:
- Enrollment was very low;
- Lack of funds;
- The school building was unfinished;
- The school grounds weren’t developed;
- Local politics affected relationships in the church;
The steps we took to meet the challenges
While in 1996, I haven’t organised the Ministry Appreciation and Participation Toolkit yet, I have its principles in my heart and mind.
So, I used these principles in leading the church leaders to do the following steps:
A. We created the Vision-Mission-Goal of the school project
As with any organisation or undertaking, knowing the vision, mission, and goals are very important as it establishes a very good starting point.
Together with the church officers and the school board, we held a workshop to create the project’s VMG.
Vision/Mission Statement: Building the vision of quality Christian education and community service.
Goals: Through the Ajuy Christian Development Learning Centre, Ajuy Baptist Church seeks to
- provide quality Christian education to children in Ajuy through kindergarten and elementary school;
- educate children of indigent families;
- make ACDLC a resource centre of Christian and family educational materials;
- implement a community-based rehabilitation program for persons with disabilities;
- fulfil the task of making disciples for Christ by integrating Christian values in school subjects.
B. We mapped our service area
In mapping our service area, we sat down and determine the families in the Poblacion (main town or the CBD) and surrounding 34 barangays (villages) who have children at pre-school and primary ages.
Then we went from house to house, from village to village, to validate our data. The home visits allowed us to:
- establish contact and introduce the school program and her VMG;
- emphasize “quality Christian education”;
- invite them to enrol at the ACDLC in the school year 1997;
C. We mobilised the church members
As churches would commonly do when there are projects and events, we created different committees and get the involvement of every member.
Men, women, youth, and children participated in finishing the building, beautifying the school grounds, and other activities.
D. We affirmed and used gifts in leadership and service
To tackle the issue of finance, we gathered those who have leadership gift as shown in their respective occupations. This resulted in the school venturing into the rice farming business to augment the income of the teachers and staff.
Church families continued to give generously in terms of money, talents, and time, despite the existing conflict that local politics brought.
E. We institutionalised the relationship of the church and the school
It is not the most visible step compared with building structures and beautifying the environment but it is the most important step – institutionalising the relationship of the church and the school.
The church adopted the provision that the school board shall be elected by the church assembly, also providing for a representative from the parents-teacher-communication association and the staff.
F. We established an evaluation and planning process
Applying my work experiences with not-for-profit organisations, like Save the Children Manila and Iloilo Program, I engaged the church and school leadership in establishing an evaluation and planning process.
The successes we achieved
In 1997, the school started Grade 1 and 2 classes with enrolment reaching 144 pupils in all levels (Nursery, Kindergarten 1 and 2, Grade 1 and 2).
This was a very amazing result after only having 19 pupils in 1996.
In the following year, 1998, Grades 3 and 4 were added. By the school year 2000, ACDLC is a complete elementary school with 203 pupils.
Then, we added the high school department in the succeeding years to follow up the elementary graduates.
The school, now named, Ajuy Christian Development Academy continues to pursue and offer quality Christian education and community service through her Kindergarten, Elementary, and High School education programs.
I worked with Ajuy Baptist Church for almost seven years, four years as the school project director and three years as the pastor.
My very significant learning from this work experience is that I was able to affirm the gift of administration that the Lord God has given me.
PHOTO CREDIT: Bethany Waugh