As children came and went through her office, principal Kalie George took a few minutes to talk about the Christian school she and a friend have established in Kansas City, Mo. A 2008 graduate of Tabor College, Kalie’s calling to urban ministry was launched by a chapel presentation about World Impact. After several years working with homelessness, in 2014 she partnered with a school teacher friend to establish Urban Christian Academy in their inner city neighborhood.
What prompted you to start a school?
My previous work was in rescue ministry which was like standing at the base of a river and pulling kids out. I felt this call to walk up the river and see why kids were being thrown in.
What did you find?
Our neighborhood school has had less than 10 percent proficiency in math and reading for the past 15 years. Helping in my friend’s kindergarten class I got a really good look at the system’s dysfunction, but I also saw how she could spark joy in her classroom. We began to wonder what would happen if these kids could find themselves in a safe place eight hours a day with a guide who loved them and shared the hope of the gospel with them.
What made you think you could start a school?
If we knew what we were getting into we probably would have run away—two young girls with two years teaching experience between us. But there was this relentless fire in me. We were going to start with a daycare in my basement, but God surprised us. When I asked a friend for help he said it’s creepy to start a school in a basement and offered to buy a school building. Another donor bought us a school bus. We raised over $100,000 in three months.
What is most challenging about this ministry?
The injustice of it all can really weigh on you. Six of our scholars are living with me right now. It’s not the workload of tucking them in and making dinner, but it’s wondering where God is in the midst of all the brokenness, wrestling with my own understanding of who God is. That can get overwhelming to me.
Where do you find hope?
These kids’ belief in God is so steady. Because of the pain they have endured, God is particularly close to them. We adults get jaded and it’s hard to see the world the way they do, but if we just sit and listen to them, the world can be transformed.
For a video visit to Urban Christian Academy go to https://vimeo.com/233607938.
Kathy Heinrichs Wiest is a freelance writer who loves the smell of whole wheat bread in the oven, the feel of an orange being plucked from the tree and the view from her front porch in Kingsburg, California. On Sunday mornings you’ll find her in the fourth pew from the front on the left at Kingsburg MB Church, moved by the hymns and praise songs and inspired by the stories of God at work locally and around the world. She and her husband, Steve, own Dovetail Remodeling. They have two grown daughters, one son-in-law and a precious granddaughter.