th_monkey_schoolHere I am with my family as Director at Bingham Academy, an inter-mission school for students aged 5 – 17 years, in Addis Ababa Ethiopia… doing a ‘three cheek’ greeting with the Ugandan Ambassador in the car park, sharing the purpose of our daily Bible teaching sessions throughout the school with Muslim parents wanting to enrol their children, figuring the logistics of what to do with a potentially rabid monkey brought to school by one of our national staff, building relationships with staff, students and parents from around thirty different countries and all because of our response to God’s call and our partnership with Spreydon Baptist Church, at home in Christchurch.

You may be thinking, “How has this happened and was the monkey really rabid?” The monkey was such a novelty that to send it home without the students seeing it seemed unfair. Strictly controlled viewing seemed to work. We do have some interesting encounters with the local ‘wildlife’. Walking out of my office today the ‘big’ turtle was sunning himself on the footpath and the ever present vultures perch`ed in the gum trees add a certain ‘uniqueness’ to the view from the teacher’s lounge.

What we are experiencing here is possible because of a church committed to praying for us and supporting us financially. There are many individuals, couples and families, who because of their commitment via Spreydon, are contributing to the impact of God’s work here in Ethiopia.  Spreydon puts considerable time and energy into promoting overseas mission, effectively channelling those with an interest in mission to prepare and eventually to serve. We are a very ordinary New Zealand family now living in not so ordinary circumstances.

My role at Bingham offers a unique opportunity to share the gospel through what I say and do with the potential to impact on the lives of students and their families who in the future may study and work anywhere around the world. In addition to this there is the strategic importance of Bingham Academy. We are here to provide high quality Christian education. This in turn enables missionaries working throughout the city, and further afield, to remain in Ethiopia because there is a school to meet the needs of their children.

Leaving the school grounds to go out into the city means being confronted by what is at times overwhelming human need. How is it possible to change this? Is it possible to change it? I believe it is. Change begins when we are open to God’s call on our lives and use our talents to impact on others.

I’m hoping it will be a while before I see a monkey here at school again, mind you last week the 7th grade science class were dissecting a sheep on the soccer field and took great delight in waving the tape worms, discovered in its stomach, at me—never a dull moment!

By Murray and Jacqui Overton

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