Stories from the Field

Virtual High School, Real Blessing in the Lives of Young Refugees

When Melanie* visited the Middle East in 2009, she saw a huge need among young refugees: they couldn’t attend school. Many had missed several years of classes, setting them incredibly behind and leaving them without the study habits needed to succeed. And, since they didn’t know the local language, they couldn’t begin to study in a local classroom.

Rahim was one of those young refugees. Although he was in his early teens, he hadn’t been to school in four years. But thanks to a unique virtual school outreach, these refugees have a way to begin studying again—and they’re experiencing the love of believers in a practical way.

God has been using Melanie to help refugee teens get back in a classroom, and to demonstrate His love to their entire families. When she returned to the Middle East to serve as a full-time Christar worker, she began a virtual high school program that allows students who’ve been displaced to pick up where they left off with their education.

Study Skills and Deeper Needs

The virtual high school combines online learning with classroom sessions to help students start studying again, as well as to build the study skills they’ll need to do well in the classroom. “Many don’t know how to study,” Melanie explains. “They didn’t know how to send an email or keep a notebook. I’m teaching them those things.”

Although Rahim wasn’t one of Melanie’s stronger students, God used the outreach of the virtual school to build his confidence and his study skills. When he and his family resettled in the United States, he was ready to begin attending school in his new home. Now, he’s excelling in class. And he’s experienced God’s love in action.

Through the virtual school, Melanie and her teammates are able to address not only students’ educational needs, but some of their emotional and spiritual needs as well. Anger, whether toward their parents or simply in response to being forced from their homes, is a common reaction. All have been deeply impacted by the trauma they’ve experienced. Melanie shares,

The teenage years are a window when everyone is trying to figure themselves out. These young refugees can’t figure themselves out because they don’t have a stable life. And, because they’ve gone through trauma, they have trouble focusing. We’re helping them relearn to focus and believe they can complete something. They don’t believe they can.

Real Relationships

The outreach of the virtual school also opens doors for Melanie and her co-workers to build relationships with students’ families, and eventually, to share the gospel with them. Melanie says the hope is to get these young people and their families plugged into the church. She shares, “I’m very intentional about going into homes, praying and inviting students to a youth group at a local fellowship.”

On one of these visits, a student’s mother shared just how much of a difference she’d seen in her son since he began attending the virtual school:

Thank you for starting these classes. My son was very depressed and was hanging out with a bad group. Now he looks forward to each day, enjoys learning and studying, is hanging out with [others] his own age and is attending church.

We praise God for using the outreach of this virtual school to transform the lives of young refugees! Now, workers are seeking to expand this program to other cities and to catch students soon after they enter the country so that they don’t have a long break from school. They’re praying that they’ll see God transform the lives of many young refugees as these students get back to class and see the love of Christ in action.


How can I get involved?

Pray:

  • Praise God for using this virtual high school to enable young refugees to resume their education.
  • Pray that Melanie and her co-workers will be able to build strong relationships with students and their families.
  • Ask God to provide the $200 needed for each student to attend the virtual school.
  • Ask God to raise up more believers to minister to young refugees through virtual school programs in additional cities.

Give:

Gifts toward the Persian Outreach Project cover the cost of outreaches including the virtual school. Just $200 covers the cost of the virtual high school program for one refugee student for an entire year!