September 2021

Teach Beyond is a global Christian organization that supports schools throughout the world seeking to provide a Christian centered education, often in countries where a Christian witness is limited. They are also seeking to support schools in refugee centers through a sister organization, Beyond Borders. As of this writing, there are TB schools in over 60 countries (see:

There are other organizations that provide a similar service. Leadership Development International (LDi) performs a similar function, largely in China, and the Network of International Schools (NICS), a smaller organization that began in South Korea, does the same in 13 countries, mostly in the Far East. There is a degree of cooperation between these organizations so as to maximize global impact.

The Lord led us in a most organic way to this organization. Black Forest Academy, where we served for a year in the mid-nineties, is the founding school for Teach Beyond, and many of those with whom we worked in Germany are still part of the larger organization. Our Vietnamese/Canadian friend Mic, whom we have supported since we first met him at Fuller while we were completing our Master’s degrees, also serves with Teach Beyond in the Far East. David D, who is the new CEO of the mission, is a former student of mine from BFA. Clearly the Lord had been preparing us for these roles for some years before we arrived.

Now that we have arrived at TB’s global office in Horsham, we are going to take some time to get settled. There are always transitional hiccups with moving to another country, even if it is the country of your birth. Most of the personal ones are either sorted or soon will be. Then there are the settling in issues with the mission itself. Most of those remain to be sorted. One of the most important took place as we spent the last weekend at a retreat with TB staff in Shropshire.

Cloverly Hall, where the retreat was held, is a typically drafty old county estate with horse barns converted to conference rooms. These two old tropical plants found the damp air chilly with a notable lack of sunshine. However, there were spectacular views of the British countryside to compensate and jovial air of camaraderie to brighten the spirits. I drank gallons of tea to warm my insides and wore several layers of clothes wherever I went. On a spare afternoon a new friend Clive and I went to explore the canals and churches of the area and were not disappointed.

It was a longish drive to Shropshire of about four hours, but our new little Ford Fiesta had no trouble keeping up with the 70 mph traffic on the M6. It was nice to be able to see the British countryside, and the stop in Stratford was a lifelong dream. The retreat was a great introduction to the mission and its people, and we look forward to getting deeper into our roles and responsibilities with our new lives in England.

I have heard people say that they don’t like Shakespeare. I can’t imagine why. Shakespeare is funny and poignant, witty and pertinent, insightful and explosive, cunning and dangerous. To say you don’t like Shakespeare is to say you don’t like intelligent discourse, you don’t like people, you don’t like life. You don’t like Shakespeare? How tragic then is your own life!

I love Shakespeare, and had I time and money I would see live every play he ever wrote. But alas, that is not possible. I am but a poor player strutting and fretting my hour upon the stage of life, without the resources or the capacity in indulge in such a wondrous journey as that would be.

However, I did finally get to Stratford-upon-Avon and saw the places where Shakespeare was born, where he was educated and where he is laid to rest. It is a humble grave, not at all like the statues, obelisks, and ornate tombs where the late and great are buried. It is simple slab in the church floor, though it is at least at the front of the church near the altar.

But it is to this simple grave where millions from around the world come to pay homage every year. There is now a fabulous Royal Shakespearean Festival Hall and the nearby Swan Theatre where The Bard’s plays are staged. Cafes, pubs, and boutiques line Henley Street where Shakespeare lived, all celebrating his name and trading on his cachet.

It was lovely to be in the town that so resonates with his life and his unmatched literary brilliance. We have made a promise to return and stay the night and see one of his plays in the coming year. That will be a tale worth the telling!

We had no idea how difficult it would be to settle in England. How hard could it be? They all spoke English – admittedly some with an account so thick it was hard to recognize – and they were a first world country. Besides, we have had plenty of experience with relocating. We had done so in Bangladesh and Germany, Malaysia, and the Cayman Islands. So, when Pam declared that she had found us a place to stay for the first eight days of our arrival I was dismissive. Why would we need eight days to find a permanent place, I protested? I argued that we would need no more than five. Foolishly, it now appears. Fortunately, we went with her plan.

After our arrival we were busy in our rental flat completing our Covid tests, getting prepped for my first conference with Teach Beyond, signing up for a bank account, and finding a place to stay. The tests and the conference went as planned. The bank was another story. The problem with finding a place to stay was that as it turns out, no one rents furnished flats in this part of the world. University towns, yes. London, certainly. But outside of that, most places are unfurnished, and we simply cannot afford to buy furniture for a flat on our limited budget.

This meant that there were virtually no places for us to rent. Letting agents were even reluctant to take our calls. We finally found a helpful agent and basically took the first place she showed us, a tiny one-bedroom unit close to the train station and across the street from a park. The problem was, it wouldn’t be available for another four weeks. There were no other units available at that time. So we signed the agreement and started scrambling for intermediate accommodation.

The obvious answer was to contact the mission and ask if they had some kind of emergency accommodation. Lots of missions do, and we have used such accommodation in the past in both Germany and Bangladesh. After numerous emails we did find out that there was such a place, a manse attached to a local Baptist church that was currently without a pastor. The missionaries who regularly used the manse were also absent, visiting family in Canada, and the place was empty. We secured a key, hired a cab, collected our bags, and moved in.

The place has been a blessing. It has given us a chance to deal with the dozens of calls and emails we have had to plow through in order to get over this transition hurdle, a warm place to sleep, and a place to relax and reflect in the evening. The office space gave us an opportunity to finish our book on our time in the Cayman Islands and get it sent off to the publisher, and the kitchen allowed us space to cook our own meals and avoid the expensive restaurant food that can rapidly destroy any budget.

The current residents, Len and Mary, get back today and that will mean we will be a little crowded for a few days. But our own place becomes available in just three days from now, so the timing has been just about perfect. Len and Mary call this place “Sanctuary.” It certainly has been for us. All our anxiety about where we would stay on our arrival had been looked after by our loving God long before we arrived. And as in many things while walking with God, we just had to trust and follow to see what He had already prepared for us.