Our dream at ECA is not only to serve our students and our families excellently, but we also want to do all that’s possible to help other Christian schools in Colombia to excel. We are not in competition with other Christian schools. We are on the same team, seeking to train this generation to become godly citizens and leaders of influence, using their skills for God’s kingdom. Educators from other countries in Latin America have commented that the mutual respect and unity of Christian school leaders in Colombia is exemplary and unusual.
We have been involved in OBED, a Colombian association of Christian schools, since 2001. OBED, an acronym that stands for Oracion/prayer, Bible, Evangelism and Discipleship, began in 1998 with 15 schools and now has approximately 75 member schools, with about 30 of those in Bogotá. Some years the OBED membership has been up 100. Probably several hundred Colombian Christian schools exist, but many of them are small and have not yet made the effort to be affiliated with a larger association of other Christian schools.
A like-minded association
Wherever I go, I try to share with anyone involved in Christian education the importance of being part of a larger, like-minded association. To be able to have an influence in the government and in the creation of educational policies, a greater volume of schools helps to have a louder voice and widens the circles of impact. I believe it is critical during this chapter of education in Colombia for Christian schools to band together and cooperate to protect the right of parents to choose a Christian worldview and Christian values for their children’s education. I am thankful for the voice that OBED has raised on our behalf with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Interior, and DANE with various situations that affected our ministry.
I also feel that OBED is a place where schools can network, share academic and administrative ideas, be alert to laws and norms that affect us, keep each other accountable, and, overall, strive together for excellence. As a school, ECA regularly opens our doors to other schools that want to see what we are doing, especially in the arena of bilingualism. We send our teachers around Colombia to give workshops to individual schools and to participate in conventions in other cities.
We always participate in OBED’s annual convention, held in Bogotá in early March, where we hope to learn AND to bless others, as our staff members lead multiple workshops. This year, we were one of 46 schools participating in the annual March OBED Christian educators’ convention held in Bogota, and five of our team members led optional workshops which could be chosen by the over 600 delegates.
Besides the annual convention, OBED regularly sponsors different types of professional development workshops for teachers and/or administrators. Sending out pertinent information about resources or issues alerts schools to tools or matters that could be easily overlooked in the daily grind of running a school. OBED’s web of connections is wide so, when needed, schools can receive wise counsel from others who have dealt with similar challenges or who have had successes worth emulating. An active Whatsapp for directors of OBED schools and a running Whatsapp resource chat both keep fresh information in the hands of school leaders.
It is a privilege to be part of the OBED association, where we can both learn and support the overall Christian education movement in Colombia! We are open to see what new doors God may allow us to enter in the future, as we continue to participate in OBED.