Located in Southwestern Germany, Black Forest Academy is a non-denominational Christian school, established in 1956 to serve the children of missionaries. Today, BFA offers high-quality and globally-minded education to students from Kindergarten to twelfth grade. As they serve the families of missionaries, BFA staff are also fully supported by the donations of family, friends and sending churches.
Though I had heard a great deal about BFA over the years from teachers and friends here in Washington, many of whom had attended the school, what excited me most about teaching here is the opportunity to form relationships with the children of ministry families. BFA alumna and former staff member Michele Phoenix writes that missionary kids “are children whose parents happen to be missionaries… But they are not in any way ‘born into’ a solid faith, nor are they ‘born into’ a desire to reside overseas… Though many of them embrace their parents’ faith and calling, some do not.”
As the eldest daughter of Richard Dahlstrom, pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Washington, I know firsthand the joys and struggles of growing up in the ministry spotlight. For many children raised in strong faith communities, knowing God is less about relationship and more the background against which life happens. The various communities of which I’ve been a part, whether churches or schools or retreat centers, have been a source of spiritual mentorship for me. At BFA, I’m deeply aware of the critical developmental role that teachers have as well. Along with the genuine pleasure of teaching reading and writing, which I love more each year, at BFA I have the privilege of both nurturing and challenging my students to greater levels of relationship with Christ.