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STEVE and Rhonda Schwarze

posted May 22, 2010, 9:10 PM by Jason Quick   [ updated Nov 2, 2011, 5:42 AM by Sites Admin ]
~ Deanna (Jenkins) Nichols, '89


Faith Academy’s community of students, parents and staff gathered on May 12, 2009 to celebrate the lives and service of Steve and Rhonda Schwarze. In recalling their ministry spanning the past 25 years, the couple shared freely their stories of God’s goodness and provision as they’ve had many opportunities to trust Him.

During college and before marriage, Steve and Rhonda sensed God’s leading towards overseas missions. Steve, an MK from Indonesia, was pursuing a Political Science degree with plans to become a U.S. Ambassador. Yet God directed him to con- sider the possibility that his MK experience may have prepared him for something more. He responded to this stirring by ask- ing, “What, God?” Rhonda grew up on a farm in Iowa, and thought she wanted to become a farmer’s wife. Instead, she enrolled in nurses’ training in Minneapolis and the Lord exposed her to the world of missions. She assumed that she would be a mis-
sionary nurse, but God had other plans.

Shortly after their marriage in 1978, the couple began doing youth ministry, all the while asking God about their desire to serve in missions. A search through the Missions Needs List of CRISTA Ministries revealed a need for boarding home parents around the world. This caught Steve’s eye as he had spent five years as a boarding student at Faith. In 1980 Steve and Rhonda took three months off to spend time with his folks in Indonesia and to visit MK schools in Asia.This affirmed their leading towards becoming boarding home parents. What impressed the couple most about Faith boarding was its “Family-Style” philosophy.

On June 21, 1984, Steve and Rhonda (with two-year-old Rachel) left for Faith Academy to become boarding home parents. Rhonda shared about the struggles she experienced early-on, facing fears of adjusting to culture, cli- mate and concern about disease. An encouraging verse was, “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalms 139:9-10, NIV).

Ocular is a popular English word used in the Philippines meaning: to search and or investigate a location. Steve and Rhonda often took their dorm kids on oculars or “mini-outings” to Corregidor, Taal, and other locations they could explore together. This added an element of adventure to weekends and school breaks for their dorm family.

The dorm was such a good fit that when Steve was approached in the early 1990s to help establish the Development Office, he was hesitant. There was fear that stepping out of boarding might mean losing touch with the kids. Sought-after for his experience and leadership, he has served as Activities Coordinator, High School Vice Principal, Facilities Supervisor, Transportation Coordinator, Administrative Assistant for Development, Development Director, Boarding Administrator, and Deputy Superintendent.

Rhonda worked alongside Steve as Alumni Coordinator, making a difference in the lives of former students by keeping them in touch with one another and the school. Steve and Rhonda have attended reunions for alumni interested in hearing of Faith’s current happen- ings. They are enthusiastic about this opportunity as well as their work with Boy Scouts. Steve is Assistant District Commissioner for The Far East Council and Rhonda served on the Troop Committee and was also Troop Committee Chairman for several years.

On December 14, 1998, Steve was appointed Director for Development. Much prayer and deliberation went into his decision to be involved in Development. He put out a fleece asking God to make the calling clear. Since Subic Naval Base was closing its doors the same year, Steve asked God specifically to provide for Faith through this avenue. By establishing a relationship with key personnel at Subic, Steve was able to oversee a huge donation of equipment given by Subic to Faith valued at over half a million dollars!

Over the years, Steve and Rhonda have witnessed how God has brought resources and expansion to Faith beyond their wildest dreams. This included construction of new class- rooms for Middle School, the Fine Arts Department, a Swimming Pool, new Science Wing, and finally the much dreamed-for Auditorium. The Class of 2009 was the first to graduate from the Dick and Helen Cadd Fine Arts Center. Steve and Rhonda voice the attitude felt by many at Faith which says, “from everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” (Luke 12:48. NIV) Steve says, “As Faith Academy seeks to be a first class educational facility for the children of missionaries, God is broadening Faith’s horizons in stretching ways.”

The Schwarzes testify to God’s enabling power at work with hearts obedient to Him. God’s faithfulness over the past 25 years illustrates that if God brought you in it, He will walk you through it, a truth that rings true in good moments and times of difficulty. The Schwarze family has returned to the US for a season to care for aging parents. They are sorely missed at Faith, yet they rest on the same promise which sustained them in the early days. “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalms 139:9-10, NIV).

The Schwarzes served as beloved dorm parents from 1984 to 1992. Carl was born in 1987 and both kids grew to know dorm life as their own. “Fun” and “warm-hearted” is how students describe the Schwarze family, who sought to make days in the dorm memorable times for the kids in their care.