Throughout Paraguay in the late 90's, the average Paraguayan had a sixth grade education or less. God directed Mark and Johanna Waltz, medical missionaries to the city outside the Asuncion, the capital. Concerned about the number of children, not being educated, God put a burden on their heart to build a school. The needs assessment revealed that over 5,000 children in Lambaré were not attending school due to economic problems. Although "free" public education was available, many got turned away due to the lack of space; families could not afford the cost of tuition, books, uniforms, and supplies or the children did not time for school because they have to work.
The majority of the parents in the barrio / neighborhood did and still not have stable jobs or are underpaid for their services. In Paraguay almost 70% of the population is under the age of 30, therefore, many children still are forced to work or beg in the streets.
The Paraguay Outreach began in 1999 when God spoke to Sue Givens’ heart to join friends serving in Paraguay. She went on two different mission trips to learn more about Paraguay and her needs. In the second trip, she began working with Mark and Johanna Waltz. God had given them the dream to start a school.
Moving to Paraguay, in September of 2000, Sue began learning Spanish and helped Mark and Johanna as they began converting an abandon building into the first classes for pre-school and kindergarten students.
The school officially opened in February of 2001, with one classroom; with pre-school students (age 4) in the morning and kindergarten students (age 5) in the afternoon session. There were 52 students in total. Sue was officially named the director by Pastor Pablo Mora, the President of the Comunidad Evangélica Metodista del Paraguay, the national Methodist organization.
Sponsors and churches across the United States donated funds to Samaritan Hands; these were to purchase land and provide construction funds for New Horizon Methodist School. In a covenant agreement with Comunidad Evangélica Metodista del Paraguay, Sue served as the school director from the beginning until September of 2014. The school is owned and now under the leadership of the Comunidad Evangélica Metodista del Paraguay.
The vision for helping Paraguayan students receive a quality Christian education is to prepare a new generation of Christian leaders who will model integrity and honesty, and will be guided by Biblical principles and the Holy Spirit. The school opened in 2001 and has earned an excellent reputation for its strong academics and Christian Education.
New Horizon opened new opportunities for the young people in Lambaré as Christ became an integral part of their lives, their families and the community.
"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6
Samaritan Hands constructs New Horizon Methodist School in Phases:
Phase I: Early Childhood (Completed in 2001)
In answer to many prayers, the vision for New Horizon School was birthed by God in the hearts of missionaries Mark and Johanna Waltz and the members of a small church in Lambaré. God directed them to Villa Zulma, a barrio (neighborhood) in Lambaré populated with very poor families. Many of the children there need an education but simply cannot afford to go to school without help from outside resources.
In 2000, they secured property across the road from the church with a partially finished building on it. They finished the building, built an additional room in the rear and enclosed the grounds with a protective wall. In February of 2001, the school doors opened for the first pre-school and kindergarten classes.
Phase II: Elementary Grades 1-8 (Completed in 2004
Ground-breaking for the New Horizons Elementary and Secondary School began in August of 2001. Mark Waltz and a short-term missionary, Kevin Poe, finalized and corrected the architectural plans, saving the school thousands of dollars. The new school design enabled them to complete the construction in just over two years instead of the projected five to six years. Another blessing was when Missionary Christian Dickson, came and was able to help Mark supervise the final stages of construction. Many local church members along with American work teams worked together to complete the project. We praised God for His faithfulness in the building of the school.
We moved into the bottom part of the building early in January 2003 as construction continued. During the Grand Opening in February of 2004 we dedicated the building and gave all the Glory to God. The School was rapidly growing each year adding a new grade level and by 2007, there were 585 children enrolled in preschool through 9th grade.
Phase III: Constructed a Tinglado over the Playground area in 2009
We began talking in 2003 that we needed to build a large area for special event and sports. We began planning a multipurpose building. However, the funds needed were almost $200,000 and increasing at a rapid rate each year. We did not have anywhere for all the students and their families to meet. The temporary solution was to construct a "tinglado," or covered area over our elementary playground in April of 2009 thanks to a donation from an anonymous donor. It provided shelter from the elements, especially from the intense sun and sudden thunderstorms. We used the area for physical education, recesses, general assemblies, chapel services and parent and community events. We could comfortably host around 500 people in this area. The tinglado was finished along with some additional brick work to close in the one side of the tinglado in September 2009. However, we knew as the school grew, this would only serve for activites for the different age groups; not for entire school functions.
Phase IV: Building the Multipurpose Building (Planning began in 2003; Ground-breaking June, 2009 and the dedication service was Sept. 2013
Raising close to $450,000 for a multipurpose building seemed an impossible task especially with the problems with the slow economy, but God showed again nothing was impossible for Him. We had a committee and worked hard for several years with the architect to plan the facility. We shared our plans with hundreds of churches across the United States. The structure was named after the school founders, Mark and Johanna Waltz as a testimony to the students and the community. Nothing is impossible with God. If we trust Him, work hard, and do His will; he will make the impossible happen!
Construction began on the Multi-Purpose Sports, Music and Arts Center in June of 2009. It was designed to be used by the school for classes in drama, music and physical education. In addition, it could be used as a community center and by the local church for special events, sports programs and concerts. Our desire was for the building to be used as an avenue for evangelism. The first section of the building was finished in December of 2009.
In September of 2011, we began the second part and had it ready to be used in February 2012 to provide temporary classrooms for our high school students. The final section of the building and finishing the interior were done through donations to Samaritan Hands and the Advance. We had two anonymous $50,000 donations which helped encourage others to donate.
Phase V: Expansion Projects
- Our school was impacting more than just the students and their families. Computer, English and Music courses are offered to the community, enabled many to gain employment.
- Libraries are a rarity in Paraguay. Our school library has over 5,000 books and resources, was open to and frequently used by the community.
- In cooperation with the local church, we provided many other activities such as Bible studies, marriage enrichment programs, sewing classes, prayer groups, and recreational activities. The school also shared its facilities with the church.
We began the students in the younger grades using the Spanish version of the Abeka Book curriculum (used by home schooling families in the US). This program, Libros Aguila, was well organized, provided in-depth advanced teachings at each grade level and shared God's words and commands in most lessons. As the students progressed we began using many other resources including the required curriculum of the Ministerial of Education. The Ministerial certified all of our teachers and all the classroom teachers are Paraguayans or Latinos now living in Paraguay.
Our students studied English, music, computer skills and Christian education in addition to a typical academic curriculum which included their two native languages of Spanish and Guarani. Christian counselling and social work services were also available to the children and their families.
"Ask and it will be given...." Matthew 7:7
Samaritan Hands began and continues to function on faith that God will touch the heart of others to make our vision a reality; providing Christian education to students who need financial assistance.