As I prepare to move into retirement, I am pleased to share that Operation Classroom continues to be a strong mission emphasis of our Indiana Conference, and in fact they are moving into a new area of emphasis which is a great partnership with the Sierra Leone Conference. This new emphasis is for an Enterprise Academy to train persons for employment with practical skills. The idea was requested by Bishop John Yambasu of the Sierra Leone Conference who said to our Operation Classroom leaders, “We need to find a way to put folks in this country to work.”

How will it work? With work teams and funding from Operation Classroom, the former Taiama Center will be transformed into a vocational school which will focus upon the “3 R’s” of Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, and upon the “3 B-s” of Business, Building, and Behavior, along with the “3 Ologies” of Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology with the “Big E” of ethics. The Taiama Center needs renovation from the damage of the civil war, but it is structurally sound and can easily be remodeled into an Enterprise Academy to accomplish those purposes.

This whole dream is a partnership between Operation Classroom and leaders in Sierra Leone, which matches our current efforts to do what our General Board of Global Ministries calls “missions from everywhere to everywhere.” The old colonial models of mission work are outdated, and this new partnership model (which is something our Operation Classroom has always done) is more effective. I am especially pleased that this is a REQUEST from Bishop Yambasu to which our Operation Classroom is responding.

So the Operation Classroom Board is exploring a fund-raising effort for the project and looking for interested persons to give and to be involved. Total cost is estimated to be around $600,000, and the volunteer needs are still to be determined.

This is an exciting new development which provides continuity with the Operation Classroom mission and purpose - while adapting to a new situation in West Africa. I celebrate this development, and I pray for its successful implementation.