My heart skipped a beat as the local government’s education director looked me straight in the eye and said, “You realize, don’t you, that your school’s director must actually be present at your school and not living in another province?”
“Yes, Sir! We will work on that,” I replied. He stared at me. I knew that he could revoke our license and shut down our school, but he didn’t say anything more that day, nor did he probe for anything else. But my new understanding of the requirements and the fact that, at that time, we were operating in violation of them made me very nervous every time I had to drop off documents or request a letter from them to the labor department or to immigration officials, which we needed in order to get visas for our foreign teachers. In truth, it was unorthodox for a foreigner like myself to be transacting government business. Each time I showed my foreign face, I felt like I was putting our school at risk. You can be sure that before each visit I prayed fervently that God would once again grant us favor in the eyes of the officials. And He always did, renewing our assurance that He was still holding this music school and church plant in His hand.
Not only did we pray, but we also pled earnestly with the Thailand Adventist Mission to send us a willing Seventh-day Adventist Thai citizen with the required degree in music education to be our on-site school director. However, finding this person was not easy.
But now, 18 months later, we are overjoyed to have a resident Thai school director! His nickname is Tone—a great nickname for a music school director, wouldn’t you say? He not only represents our music school to the local government officials, he also manages the internal affairs of the school, ensuring that we provide high-quality music instruction in a warm and friendly Adventist environment. What’s more, Tone shares our highest goal—that, through our music school, we seek to make friends for eternity, using our concerts and recitals as strategic opportunities to share God’s love with our students and their families and inviting them to our church to study the Bible and eventually to be baptized. Tone is a real godsend, a committed lifelong Adventist, gifted in music and administration, friendly and fun and committed to the growth of his church and our music school.
Tone recently submitted a long-term development plan for our church and music school’s young people in Khon Kaen. Among other things, his plan includes a scholarship program for our young people from the poorer communities around our school, helping them with their school fees. These scholarships would be awarded to our young people who show great potential and who are actively involved in our school and church activities. In this way, Tone plans to nurture and develop future staff for our music school and the many other schools he plans to open in new areas. He has already spoken with the parents of some of our students, and they are very excited and supportive of the plan. As one of the early administrators of this music school/church plant, I’m also very excited to see Tone casting this vision for continual strategic growth and development of our current and future students! By God’s grace, this visionary leader’s dream will come true!