|HOME SCHOOLING / INTERNATIONAL|
Homeschooling Offers Hope
by Chris Klicka
The Dominican Republic is a lush tropical island nation located in the heart of the Caribbean. The country is home to 9.5 million Spanish speaking inhabitants, 95% of whom are not born-again evangelical Christians.
Most of the population lives in great poverty. Almost all young people attend public schools, many of which are in a state of disrepair, overcrowded and understaffed. There are private schools, but the monthly tuition is cost-prohibitive. The majority of students come from broken homes. Immorality is rife and negative peer pressure is heavy.
|Dr. Gene Antonio poses with a group in Santiago, the second-largest city in the Dominican Republic, where the veteran missionary spoke about homeschooling. Dr. Antonio and his wife recently held the island nation’s first homeschooling conference.|
In the midst of this darkness, a ray of hope is beginning to shine. American missionaries Dr. Gene and Rebecca Antonio and their eight children are spearheading the homeschool movement. They have founded and direct Red de Hogar Educadores Dominicanos (Dominican Home Educators Network). They recently conducted the very first national conference on homeschooling in the nation’s history. Close to 100 people attended, which is outstanding, considering most Dominicans were not even aware that homeschooling was an option for them.
Homeschooling is not yet officially recognized by the government, but it is not prohibited either. The government, as a result, leaves homeschoolers alone. The press is friendly and supportive of homeschooling. Two national newspapers and a women’s magazine have interviewed the Antonios and run very positive articles. They have been interviewed on radio and television as well.
As a result of this high-profile publicity, the Antonios have had people calling them from all over the country. This includes Christians, non-Christians, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“People here are desperate to protect their children from the negative peer pressure that exists in many schools, but most still do not know homeschooling is an option. We are here to show them the way,” says Gene. “We recommend Spanish types of Christ-centered curriculum and have found this to be a fabulous evangelistic tool for reaching non-Christian parents.”
The Antonios are not novices when it comes to homeschooling and missionary service. They have been living and ministering in the Dominican Republic for five years and are fluent in Spanish. Prior to moving there, the Antonios spent seven years working and ministering in India, where they saw the Holy Spirit touch many hearts, and a year in Hungary, where they did discipleship training and introduced homeschooling in their area. The Antonios have always homeschooled their children ages 2, 6, 7, 10, 13, 14, 17 and 19. “We feel that homeschooling enables us to transfer solid Biblical values to our children, and empowers us to bond with them and fortify their character in the midst of different cultures,” they assert.
“After living on various mission fields for over 13 years straight, we have found that in far too many cases, Christian parents are losing their children to the world. We do not want to win the adult nationals to Christ only to have their children stolen right out from under them by the schools. Teaching the nationals to homeschool is a powerful means of making disciples of their children in accordance with Christ's Great Commission, (Matt. 28:19-20).”
Their commitment to promote homeschooling has had telling results. Leo and Rosanna and their four young children are Dominicans who were new to homeschooling. They have a home-based pizza business and Rosanna translates Christian books into Spanish.
“We were feeling very lonely and discouraged at times, because we did not know anyone else who was homeschooling and many people, including friends at church, criticized us. After we met with Gene and Rebecca and their family, we were filled with fresh hope and enthusiasm for teaching our children at home,” they said.
Eugenio and Margarita are homeschooling parents of three teenagers. Margarita gave up her career as a medical doctor in order to devote more time to raising their children. “The conference was a great encouragement to us and many others,” said Eugenio. “It is so important for homeschoolers to have fellowship with others of like mind,” he added.
Pastor Sabino lives in the town of San Pedro, an hour and a half away from bustling Santo Domingo. After attending the conference organized by the Antonios, he invited them to lead a forum at his church. The people who attended were excited about what they heard.
“We truly thank the Lord for bringing the Antonios to our country, they are such a blessing to us and many others,” Pastor Sabino said. “We need a revolution in family life in this country, and homeschooling is a great way to see that happen. We are more determined than ever to raise our children for Jesus Christ.”
I have known Gene and Rebecca for 20 years and seen great fruit in their ministry in the States and abroad. I am excited about what they are doing in the Dominican Republic. It is important for homeschoolers in the U.S. to stand behind their efforts to export the positive message of homeschooling to the Third World. There are many heavy operating expenses in launching a whole new movement in a foreign country and I encourage people to become co-workers in their ministry through their prayers and financial support.
The Antonios are offering a unique opportunity for select homeschool graduates to come to the Dominican Republic, learn the language and do intensive evangelism and discipleship of Dominican nationals. They have co-authored a soon to be released book, The Great Homeschool Missionary Adventure which highlights their amazing experiences in India. A doctor of natural medicine, Dr. Gene also has a free email letter, Health Tips for Homeschoolers, For more information on their ministry, see their website:
tel: 809 304-0520,
FACT, PO Box 54,
Two Harbors MN 55616