Education is vital to the welfare and continued existence of the Palawano as a distinct tribe. It is one of our greatest endeavors to invest in the lives of the young people, for they are the future of the tribe—the future community leaders, the future church leaders, and potentially the future government leaders. Investing in their education is a means of instilling strong biblical values in them that will serve as the foundation of their future lives and work. Through these young people, we have the golden opportunity to influence hundreds if not thousands of other people in generations to come. Let me introduce you to three of these promising students.
When Sisun’s mother died, his father married a young woman who instantly took a disliking to him. Not strong enough to stand up for his son, Sisun’s father went along with his new wife in abandoning Sisun and withholding the physical and financial support he needed in school. But Sisun remained determined to get an education. He kept going to school, walking 45 minutes each way, until he graduated from elementary. After completing Bible studies and committing himself to Christ, Sisun became a young leader in his church as he continued his studies in high school. Today, Sisun is a leader among the students and has great potential to be a church and community leader when he completes his education.
Yirsi comes from a home with many children and a mother and father who, though long exposed to Christianity, have resisted it and mocked those who have become Christians. As a rambunctious teenager, Yirsi wanted desperately to experience life to the fullest. Hoping that life outside her mountain home would bring more excitement, she has twice run away, only to repent and return. Yirsi wants an education. Please pray that, as Yirsi learns about Jesus in school and church, she discovers that a life in Christ is the greatest adventure.
Damsun, the son of baptized parents who struggle with consistency in their Christian walk, has amazingly made it to high school. I say amazingly because he struggled with learning disabilities to the point that I feared he wouldn’t pass the elementary exams. But through the patient efforts of his elementary teachers using non-traditional methods, Damsun is now in his first year of high school and scoring in the middle of his class. He used to be very shy and struggled socially, but now he is blossoming under the continued tutelage and spiritual mentoring of his dean and high school teachers. I see in Damsun a desire to know Christ and to live His life consistently.
These short vignettes highlight some of the challenges and joys of working with Palawano young people and developing them into useful citizens of this earth and the new earth to come.