In last month’s blog Jonathan Mitchell raised the question: if what we are doing is not creating change, why are we doing it? He said, “As more organizations and ministries begin measuring impact, I am excited to see the transformation that will take place for underserved people, communities, and nations.” Edify’s vision is flourishing godly nations because we desire to see transformation occur in the communities and schools we serve, as well as entire nations.
In June, Edify’s Christian Transformation and Training Officers joined together for an annual meeting in Lima, Peru to share ideas, encouragement, and grow together (see picture above). When Edify begins serving in a country, the first staff members we hire are the Country Director and Christian Transformation and Training Officer (CTTO). Today, Edify has 18 CTTOs throughout ten countries of operation.
I recently sat down with Jose, our CTTO in Guatemala, and asked him a few questions about his role. Jose, a former colleague of Guatemala Country Director Karla de Pineda, started with Edify in January 2017. His responsibility is to coordinate trainings and follow-up with schools afterward, as well as provide encouragement and support transformation in our Guatemalan partner schools. His passion for his work was evident from the first moment we began talking.
Me: Hi, Jose, thank you for agreeing to discuss your role as a Christian Transformation and Training Officer with me today. Can you first tell us a little about what a CTTO is? What is the purpose of your role?
Jose: At Edify, we strongly believe in transformation when it comes to the countries we serve around the world. As a CTTO, I have the privilege of walking with the school proprietors (school owners), praying with and for them, and encouraging them in their mission. Together, we get to watch the transformation that Christ-centered education brings about in a student, their family and community. Transformation is our goal and trainings for the teachers and school leaders helps us achieve that goal. Edify and our training partners invite schools to trainings on topics such as: marketing a school, how to become financially sustainable, creating a business plan, and Christ-centered transformation. Then, we follow up with them on what they learned and walk with them as they implement it. I get to see firsthand if changes have been made, and if not, I help them address their greatest needs in order to add value to their school.
Me: What is your favorite part of your job?
Jose: My favorite part of my job is building relationships with the school proprietors and directors, and being able to serve them through listening to them and sharing with them. In my role, I get to represent Edify. But, in many ways, I also get to become a part of the schools’ mission. I am praying for them and with them. Just recently, I visited a new school and the proprietor opened up to me and asked me for prayer. I felt the presence of the Lord, as if I was there for a special purpose. All they really want is someone who will listen to them and pray for them. I am humbled to be God’s servant, to be His instrument for them to find refreshment.
Me: What is the most impactful part of your job?
Jose: The most impactful part of my job is to see the transformation our trainings and support provide. Each time I walk into a school, I like to observe, to compile as many details as possible from that school that will give me the “non-verbal” story. I look at the way the proprietor is dressed, how their face looks – do they look worn or tired? Is the building well taken care of? I ask the Lord every time I go into the school to open my eyes, to help them see that as the body of Christ, our fight is together; we are all united and that I, and Edify, is with them and for them.
Me: Can you tell me of a recent story that has encouraged you?
Jose: One day when I visited a proprietor to follow up from a training, it seemed as though she had awakened from something. There was something alive in her that was not there when I first met her. The Bible says happiness in your heart will be reflected on your face, and this was the case for her. I can tell she is being transformed and it is reflecting on her school. She is inspired to make changes that bring transformation for her students and to attract more students to enroll. This is all attributed to the fact that she now has support. She has someone to talk to and encourage her. I am thankful to be a vessel for God’s work.
A Team Meeting: Sharpening our Work
Me: What is one thing you took away from the CTTO meeting in Peru? Why do you think it is important to meet as a team each year?
Jose: Sharpening. Makonen, Edify’s Chief Transformation Officer, told us a story.There was once a woodcutter who used to cut down trees very fast, but over time he started cutting down less and less trees. He had the same energy and was cutting as fast as possible but could not keep up with the work he had done before. The woodcutter was worried he was losing his strength. He went to his boss and said, “I do not know what is going on. I seem to be working just as hard but each day am cutting down less and less trees.” His boss asked, “Have you sharpened your ax recently?” He had not.
This story made me realize, we have to stop, reflect and look at what we are doing in order to find ways to sharpen our “tools.” This meeting allowed us to do just that by learning from each other and the work Edify is doing around the world. I have come back with more energy, new strategies and new tools to continue my job. This conference reinforced why I do what I do. It re-energized me for the tasks ahead.
José Antonio Pérez, Christian Transformation and Training Officer
José Antonio has served in education for over 12 years. For the past seven years, he served at El Shaddai Bilingual Christian School. Most recently, he was the English Program Coordinator for pre-school, elementary, middle and high school students. Prior to this, he was the literature teacher for middle school students as well a CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) teacher. Prior to El Shaddai, José taught integrated learning, English as a second language (ESL) and other advanced courses. He attended Hillcrest High School in New York, then studied dental hygiene and liberal arts at Hostos Community College in New York. From 2004-2009, he studied at Instituto Guatemalteco Americano (IGA) Guatemala earning certificates in ESL and Teacher training. José is currently enrolled at Universidad Da Vinci de Guatemala for further studies in teaching. He is married to Karen and they have one son, Jose Daniel, who is six years old.