Four years after the first clod of earth was dug to mark the start of construction, a new complex has opened to help help SIM workers in a South Asian country create disciples in a country where Christians are in the minority.
Work on the three-storey centre began in 2019 after SIM bought a small plot of land next to the existing Allied Model School (AMS) in 2017.
And despite some challenges, including a pause in construction owing to Covid-19, the official opening took place earlier this year with a thanksgiving and commissioning service held in the new premises.
“We’re so grateful for those who had the vision to begin this project; for those who worked tirelessly with architectural designs, building oversight and the care of labourers, and for the generous donations from supporters of SIM who made this project a reality,” says SIM UK’s Dave.
“We’re so excited this project has finally come to fruition! It was started by faith and we’re thankful to God that the new project centre brings everything together in one place.”
The new three-storey building enables the SIM team to expand existing projects and to use the upgraded facilities to provide practical and spiritual lifelines to even more children and young people from poor and disadvantaged families in the region.
The Allied Model School (AMS) provides quality education for nearly 300 students from underprivileged backgrounds, offering Christian teaching and discipleship, alongside government-accredited schooling.
The school has now opened a senior girls campus enabling girls to continue their education as long as boys. Previously, they could only study up to the age of 14.
“Girls must be educated separately, but space restrictions made this impossible before,” explains Dave. “Now there’s a tangible sense of excitement among both teachers and students, as we consider options for further development and growth.
“It also has the additional benefit of keeping more boys in AMS, as parents prefer to send sons and daughters to the same school.”
The Rural Education project educates some of the poorest children, whose families typically make a meagre living, moving from place to place, to find jobs working for wealthy landowners.
In order to offer more stable education to some boys from these families, boarding facilities are offered, so they can study at the AMS. When the hostel was transferred to the new building, it freed up space for the new girls’ section.
“This means more underprivileged children and young people will receive education, training and Christian discipleship from the hostel parents, local pastors and mission workers with a vision to prepare them for future ministry in their home communities,” adds Dave.
The new building provides much-needed space for the Youth Vocational Training Centre (YVTC), which is aimed at poor and illiterate young men, aged 14-21, who hear the gospel as they learn new skills, such as tailoring and motorcycle mechanics.
As many come from remote rural areas, the project also provides a hostel and the one- or two-year course includes a specific focus on Christian discipleship.
However, before the completion of the new centre, trainee tailors and their teachers were cramped inside a tiny, low-roofed room in blistering temperatures.
Trainee motorbike mechanics also had no choice but to learn outside — whatever the weather — in a makeshift workshop and students had just one small classroom to learn numeracy, literacy and study the Bible.
“The new centre provides vital space for the students to live and study,” explains Dave, “and now more than 30% more young men will be able to train at YVTC each year.
“The ground floor has three large classrooms so we can expand what we’re doing to offer not only tailoring and mechanics, but include carpentry and mobile phone repairing.
“We’re equipping these young men so they can earn a living and look after their families. Many come to faith before graduating and go back to their villages and run Sunday school or work with the neighbouring village’s pastor. Sometimes, they even start their own house church, so these boys are a very big part of church planting.
After four years of challenges and milestones reached, the SIM team pray the new centre will help their ministries and projects to grow even further and to bear fruit for years to come.
“In faith, we look forward to serving young people from a wider range of communities and to also open up relationships with new and unreached communities and reach more people with the gospel.”
By Kerry Allan
- That the Lord will use the new centre for his purposes and kingdom growth and that he will be glorified in all that happens there.
- Give thanks for the extra space to provide Christian education and vocational training to more underprivileged children and young people.
- That local churches will be strengthened by the young men who are discipled at the centre.