Bandung Alliance International School: A Testament to God’s Work
December 14, 2010 | Orchards
By Pete Simano
Every NICS staff member has a story of how God called them to NICS. Steven Newell, Chaplain and Spanish Teacher at Bandung International School (BAIS), and his family are no different. Last summer, two opportunities in Indonesia were offered to Steven—a position at BAIS and a position at another school on the island of Java. The latter offered a position as a Business Manager and dorm parent. Recalling his struggle in choosing which position to take, Steven says:
At the time we felt called overseas, I had been working both as an associate pastor and as a Christian school teacher. I felt certain that God had called me to pulpit ministry and maybe more specifically to evangelism/church planting. I was having a difficult time understanding how Christian education fit into this calling. However, I loved the idea of our children living with other MK’s and being dormed with us as dorm parents. I began to pray and seek wise council as to God’s calling on my life, my wife’s calling, and that of my family.
I remember the night that God gave me clear direction in plain English! A pastor-friend of mine dropped in to see me unscheduled. I began to share with him the dilemma I was praying through and I will never forget his response, “Have you TOLD God that you feel called to the pulpit and you don’t understand this call to Indonesia?” I remember thinking, “Tell God? Tell God! Doesn’t He already know my calling!?” Well, I resolved in my spirit to tell God my calling! Wouldn’t you know it, about two weeks later he showed me my clear path. NICS contacted my wife and I about a position at BAIS. My position would be to come on as school chaplain! God is faithful in all things if we remember to be still and wait for Him to finish giving us the blueprint…He continues to remind me and the body at BAIS that His yoke is easy and His burden is light, if we are willing to humble ourselves, are willing to give up our selfish desires and are willing to serve Him and all of His creation!
Steven and his wife, Paula, have 4 children—Andrew (12th grade), Victoria (8th grade), Rebekah (6th grade), and William (2nd grade)—and Paula works at BAIS as the Guidance Counselor and Activities Coordinator.
54 years ago, Bandung Alliance International School (BAIS) was founded in the northern end of Bandung, Indonesia. An elementary boarding school, BAIS educated students from expatriate worker families working in Indonesia. The school began the transition into a P3-12th grade school in 1996 when it joined NICS. In 2008, BAIS moved to Kota Baru Parahyangan outside of Padalarang in West Bandung. Kota Baru means “new city” and is a great location for the school as it is an educational center with the hopes of attracting many universities, schools, and institutes. Currently there are two other large schools within Kota Baru including an Islamic school and a National Plus Christian classical school. BAIS’ desire is to partner with these schools in activities and grow with the community as it continues to develop. The new campus can house up to 350 students and there are long-term plans to further develop the campus.
BAIS currently has 185 students P3-12th grade from 11 different countries. The largest groups are represented by Koreans (32%), Americans (30%), and Indonesians (30%). The school employs 34 NICS personnel and is blessed to have almost an equal number of Indonesian workers employed at the school. Pete Simano is currently the Director of BAIS and has worked with the school for 5 years and as Director for 3 years.
Each year, BAIS participates in Week Without Walls (WWW), a weeklong service learning project to get us off campus and serving in the neighboring villages. This year WWW will be November 22-24, 2010. Selected BAIS students also participate in a Sea Tribes Trip for an ethno-cultural service learning/cultural trip to neighboring islands. BAIS also has traditional festivals, science fairs, spelling bees, dramas, field day, and recitals. The school is one of the six members of IISSAC, a conference for small International schools across Indonesia, and participates yearly in varsity soccer, varsity basketball, swimming, and the “Battle of the Books.” BAIS is currently piloting a new "immersion" program of intensive English studies for students who don't make the "cut-scores" for entrance into BAIS with their English proficiency. Once they successfully complete the immersion program, they will be allowed to enter BAIS as full time students. BAIS teachers are actively involved in SOFEFO (the youth group through BIC, the International Church) and in other studies and groups.
The BAIS Statement of Purpose has the target of educating its students academically, physically, socially, and spiritually so they will be successful in life. In a country where religions outside the majority religion are sometimes persecuted, BAIS is blessed to be a believing school where the Bible is taught, truth is shared, and there is freedom on campus to pray and encourage one another through worship and testimony.
BAIS is impacting students in a tremendous way. Below are some testimonies from both current and former students of BAIS:
When I first came to BAIS, I only had a little knowledge of Jesus and what it was to be a Christian. I don’t specifically remember when I received Jesus as my Savior but as I did so, BAIS really helped me to grow in my spiritual faith. It was not one big event that occurred but everyday life here at BAIS affected and influenced me to have a personal relationship with God.
BAIS is a tightly united community where everyone knows everyone and also where we can freely share God’s love in our relationships with people. Most of the students are missionary kids. Even though I am not, since I was little, we all grew up together in Christ, loving and encouraging each other. Over the years, I have learned to trust and put my faith in Christ from what my friends have demonstrated and also because I was exposed to true believers who were willing to share their faith and life experiences, helping me to abide in Jesus. These relationships to me are so special and one of the most important things that I’ve received from going to school at BAIS.
Coming to Indonesia for me was a huge blessing. It was not my decision to move here, but I have come to love the different culture, the people, and nation as it is. I’ve got experiences that not everyone has, and I strongly believe they are a part of God’s plans, getting me ready to carry out His greater purpose through me in the future. I believe that the dreams and passions that God has planted in me has meaningful purpose, and I cannot wait to see it become real.
-a senior at BAIS
From the first time I stepped my foot into the school, I knew there was something different about that school—the teachers, students, and everything in it…When I first came to BAIS, I came as a “Christian,” as my Indonesian ID card says, but it was just a word on a card. I did not really understand what it meant to be one. But the journey began when I started to wonder about question after question related to His existence in the world and in my life. I was trying to find peace, but I had never truly experienced it.
During my time at BAIS, my faith was challenged in a way that made me keep asking more and more questions about God. My thirst for knowing about Him was never satisfied. I might not have found all the answers, but the teachers and students helped me a lot in trying to figure out my life purpose. Doubt will come from time to time, but faith has overcome it all. Year after year, God continued to build me up through teachers, friends, events, retreats, and mission trips that the school provided. I had always lived a good life as a spoiled, rich girl, but being in the BAIS community changed my life. I went on a few mission trips such as the one after the tsunami happened [in Aceh]. I had never thought for a second in my life that I would have a heart to go to such a place. It was hot and disgusting. But, I did. And God changed my heart through it.
God has changed me. Though I was only at BAIS for 3 years, I feel like BAIS has shaped me to be the person I am now—someone who is hungry and thirsty to know more and more of Him.
-a Senior at Biola University and graduate of BAIS
When I was about five years old, I realized how happy my family was and I wanted to have that same feeling. I went over to my mom and told her that I wanted to believe in Christ Jesus. We [then] prayed together…My walk with God has been tough at times, but God didn’t say that it would always be easy. He’s taught me and shown me many things since I became a Christian and decided to walk with Him.
BAIS has influenced my family in a big way. If BAIS wasn’t here when we got to Indonesia, my siblings and I would’ve had to go to Dalot, a school in Malaysia. Since my parents were working for God here in Bandung, it would’ve been hard to see them. The teachers have taught us such great things in order for us students to be prepared for college and life after high school.
-an 8th grader at BAIS