HOPE was the theme of today’s memorial service of IWU alumnae Crystal Bailey Blake. Rev. Dennis Jackson provided perspective as he shared today at the service in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He offered words of hope and vision representing Global Partners when he shared about how Crystal often inspired and ministered to him even in her difficult time with cancer. Ultimately it is “hope” that make the difference in Crystal’s life shared Jackson. He talked about a time when most recently at a Global Missions Summit at Houghton College though she was weak, “she held up the sign that seemed most fitting to who she was. The sign read, ‘HOPE'” said Jackson.
Hundreds have been impacted by her story and life. Even in the “small youth group at Trinity Bible Church during her teens, she would invite anyone and everyone to attend” shared former youth pastor, Rev. Kirk Statler, Pastor of Hillside Wesleyan Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He shared about her passion for Christ and love for people that drew her peers to a personal relations with Christ.
The following video talks about her struggle with cancer.
The following article was published by Global Partners.
“Forever ALIVE in him” | The Wesleyan Church
Light shines from Crystal Blake’s eyes and joy permeates her smile. If you looked at her, you’d think all was well. But Crystal knows about pain and struggle, probably better than most people.
The Education Division at Indiana Wesleyan University is one of the largest academic divisions on campus. To honor the students and graduates of this department, we will be telling the stories of several alumni and how they are using their God-given gifts to teach others. Special thanks goes to the alumni that participated in interviews, the faculty of the Education Division, and to the Division Chair, Dr. Jim Elsberry.
When Ellen Kujawski (’14, Elementary Education major, TESOL and Music minors) was eight years old, she felt led by God to serve in the mission field–with no idea where that would take her. Now, Kujawski is serving as an elementary teacher in the Dominican Republic (DR) with her missionary partner, Jessica Moulding – living out her call to missions. Kujawski has always been drawn to teaching, especially for elementary students.
In high school, Kujawski fostered her love for missions by going on several mission trips –including two trips to the DR. She loved visiting the rural, sugarcane villages and participating in projects that could be sustained. She never thought that the Lord would call her to serve in the DR after graduation. Kujawski commented, “Teaching in the DR wasn’t even on my radar until TeachBeyond approached me!”.
TeachBeyond is a Christian, international organization that provides education to children and adults to benefit their futures and communities. Even though it had been four years since Kujawski’s last Spanish class, she followed God’s leading and went to the DR with TeachBeyond. Once in the DR, she said she was, “placed in a completely immersive Spanish environment,” where she had to learn quickly how to speak and understand Spanish. Dominican “Spanish is one of the most difficult dialects of Spanish to learn because the language is spoken extremely quickly,” she said. But Kujawski has learned much in the past two years that has equipped her to teach English to Dominican Spanish speakers.
Kujawski was placed with her work colleague, Jessica Moulding, in San Francisco, DR. This city is quite large, with a population of 250,000 and recent growth in commerce in the area. While there is still poverty in the city, San Francisco is quite different from the sugarcane villages usually associated with the DR.
Kujawski and Moulding were sent to San Francisco Christian School to help open and run the school as an English-immersion elementary school, beginning with Pre-K and Kindergarten. A local pastor founded SFCS and Kujawski, Moulding and a missionary family were brought in to teach and aid the growth of the school. The school opened for the school year just one-and-a-half weeks after Kujawski and Moulding arrived in the DR. Kujawski realized right away that she was not only doing the Lord’s work, but also work that she was passionate about.
However, Kujawski and Moulding were not only teachers at SFCS, but they also shouldered the jobs of recruiting and admitting students, qualifying students for scholarships, maintaining the school’s finances, cleaning the building, and more.Because of the unsustainable foundation and departure of the school’s founding pastor, they quickly realized that SFCS’s current structure would not work.Kujawski was faced was a difficult choice, she said, “[Jessica and I] were left with a choice–leave and forget everything that had happened the last year or if God was calling us to something much bigger than ourselves.”
Kujawski went on to say, “We both felt like our work here wasn’t done and for the rest of that summer we fought to keep the school alive as much as we could.” They tried to get donations and fundraise in the U.S., to acquire more teachers, and even to become a sister school to a larger school.
One of the larger schools they approached was Doulos Discovery Schoolin Jarabacoa, a city near San Francisco. Doulos did not have the resources to accept SFCS as a sister school, but instead Kujawski said, “Doulos offered us a crazy proposition to become experts in running and planting a school in the DR by moving to Jarabacoa. We would live and learn from their school for a year before returning to San Francisco, DR.”
Although at first the move to Dolous and temporarily closing SFCS’s door for a year felt like a failure to Kujawski, she soon learned that this was a blessing. She receives Spanish classes twice a week, grows daily by teaching her own kindergarten class, and has had the opportunity to learn from a school that has been operating for 13 years doing what she wants to do at SFCS. Already Kujawski and Moulding are preparing for the re-opening of SFCS. They are gaining knowledge about their community and laws that must be in place to open the school, as well as connecting with as many local businesses and influential people as they can.
Kujawski spoke passionately about how she and Moulding have been preparing for the reopening of SFCS:
“Before, we were supporters of another man’s dream and the vision he had for the school. Once he was gone, we couldn’t just be supporters anymore –we had to become the school planters. It is a completely different role. As a school supporter, all I needed to know was how to be a great kindergarten teacher and support my ESL students. But as a school planter, everything has changed! Now I need to know my community and have relationships with its leaders. I need to be involved in the existing local schools and know what programs they are offering as well as what they wish they were offering. I need to learn how we can best support the dreams and goals of the people of San Francisco. We are not here to just give them an American education; we are here to help the community. And until we know them intimately, our school’s impact can only scratch the surface.”
Kujawski and Moulding plan on reopening SFCS in the Fall of 2017. When they reopen, they plan to offer Pre-K and Kindergarten classes and add an additional grade level each year. Their ultimate goal is to give their students a quality Christian education, and the tool of English, so that they can become leaders in their community.
During her time at IWU, Kujawski’s professors in the education division consistently poured into her academically and spiritually. She said, “[The education department] prepared me so well, not only academically to be a teacher, but spiritually to be [in the Dominican Republic] doing what I’m doing.” Kujawski remembered several faculty members including Dr. Muchun Yin (TESOL) and Dr. Anita Manwell (Elementary Education) who always encouraged her to pursue her dream of combining Elementary Education and TESOL to teach in a non-traditional setting. Kujawski said, “They believed in me, even when I doubted it was possible. And at that point in my life, that was exactly what I needed.” Additionally, Dr. John McCracken (Education) even fundraised to buy books for SFCS. Overall, Kujawski has felt the impact of her time at IWU in her own teaching and through the lasting relationships and care from faculty members.
SFCS is also in great need of teachers (Pre-K, Kinder, 1st, PE, Art/Music, ESL)! The positions are open for the 2016-17 school year and would give an amazing opportunity to be immersed in a new culture and language. Teachers would also have the opportunity to teach a smaller number of classes before the re-launch of SFCS in Fall of 2017. Contact Ellen at email@example.com for more information!
Written by Mia Anderson, Blog and Social Media Manager, Storyteller for the Alumni Office. Mia is a Senior at IWU studying Strategic Communication with her concentration in Public Relations. She is the Vice President of IWU PRSSA and will be getting married and moving to Indianapolis after she graduates in December 2016! Mia loves hearing others’ stories and sharing them with the world. Visit her personal website at www.MiaLAnderson.weebly.com.
Equip. Serve. Send. This pattern is reflective of how God has called the Los, Gallants, and Baileys to minister in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Since 1974, God has systematically moved in the hearts of three Indiana Wesleyan-affiliated couples to pursue full-time missions in this country. Each couple has brought a new passion and focus to this ministry, yet through their multigenerational presence in this country, God has demonstrated His concern for the people of Cambodia.
In 1974, current IWU Professor of Religion and IWU Campus Pastor, Umfundisi Jim Lo and his wife Roxene moved to Cambodia with the expressed purpose of equipping Christians through full-time ministry. Partnering with Campus Crusade for Christ and Global Partners, the couple entered this country with the expressed purpose of training local pastors to better share the Gospel. From 1974 until 1996 the Los worked full-time for these ministries. When they left to return to the United States, they were quickly succeeded by Tim and Tiffany Gallant a couple Dr. Lo introduced to the ministry that now serve as full-time missionaries. Over thirty years later, recent IWU alumni and former students of Dr. Lo, Chad and Jacklyn Bailey feel God has sent them to join the Gallants in their ministry.
When Dr. Lo and his wife left for Cambodia in 1974, they quickly realized the deep spiritual, physical and emotional needs of this country.
“When we first went to Cambodia, it was like stepping into the first Century church; only about one percent of the population would even claim being a Christian,” Dr. Lo commented of his initial trip to Cambodia. A country adhering exclusively to Buddhism, Cambodia is marked as being distinctly void of any Christian presence. Commenting on his year spent in full-time ministry, Dr. Lo stated that he never had been so aware of spiritual warfare.
“Cambodians believe deeply in spirits,” Dr. Lo explained. “They believe that even thunderstorms are attributed to spirits.”
Because of the mysticism and adherence to Buddhism that characterizes this culture, Dr. Lo mentioned that turning to another faith is very difficult.
“Buddhism is not just a religion for these people, it is a deep part of who they are,” Lo stated. Most young people in this country spend at least a portion of their lives in complete service to their faith; many youths work stints as monks simply out of religious and cultural expectations. The religion of this country asserts its prominence through many physical markers as well. Dr. Lo commented that Buddhist shrines are prolific; marking most streets throughout the cities. Often household shrines are installed into most rooms in a Cambodian home as well, with Buddhist figures prominently displayed. In the home where Dr. Lo stayed, he and his wife needed to ask special permission to remove the figures from all the rooms as they worked to assert themselves as a Christian family.
As the Lo family worked to equip Pastors and meet spiritual needs in Cambodia, they concurrently began finding ways to meet physical needs. During their time in Cambodia they began digging wells, teaching English, and working to help girls who are at-risk for sex trafficking find positive means for earning money. Sex trafficking is one of the predominate industries in this country, a painful fact the Los often observed.
“One night a soldier knocked on our door,” Dr. Lo recalls. “When I answered the door, he asked how many I wanted. At first I was confused. Then I realized he was selling girls for the night.”
Pastor Lo worked extensively in the red-light district of Cambodia, an area of the country known for high prostitution and sex slavery. While there, Dr. Lo brought several short-term missions trips to help with the ministry needs there. On one occasion, Tiffany Neuenschwander, now Tiffany Gallant joined a short-term team. Faced with the deep spiritual and physical needs of this country, Tiffany sensed God leading her back for full-time ministry.
In 1996, Dr. Lo and his wife returned to the United States to begin work at IWU. While Dr. Lo returns annually to teach and minister, the bulk of Global Partner’s ministry’s residential presence in Cambodia is facilitated by the Gallants. God called Dr. Lo and his wife to Cambodia to equip servants to spread his love. Providing a constant stream of missions-minded people prepared to equip, serve, and send others, God has demonstrated his passion for the people of Cambodia through the work of Dr. Lo and his colleagues.
Written by Katherine Arch, Story Teller for Alumni Relations. Katherine Arch is a Junior English major at Indiana Wesleyan, and a member of the Track and Cross Country teams. She is passionate about sharing people’s stories and celebrating their divine potential in written form.