Pohnpei Project Student Project Breathes New Life Into Old Lab

Three and a half years ago, Walla Walla College (WWC) student Raymond Betz spent a year teaching in the computer lab at the Pohnpei Seventh-day Adventist School. Like dozens of WWC students each year, his life was changed by his experience as a student missionary. However, Betz’s experience also changed the lives of countless current and future students in Pohnpei.

Returning to WWC to complete his engineering degree, Betz was determined to equip Pohnpei’s computer lab with brand-new computers and a server.

“After some research, thought, and much prayer I felt like this was a project God was calling me to do. I had to trust that God would provide what I needed to make this project happen,” Betz says about his decision to raise more than $11,000.

Supported by the Office of Student Missions, Betz began asking potential donors and returned student missionaries from the Guam-Micronesia mission for their support in what he called the Pohnpei Project.

Within a year Betz had collected enough money to purchase 20 new Dell computers and a server. He and a friend spent some time preparing, packing and shipping the computers to their new island home. Then, two days after graduating with his engineering degree in 2006, the aspiring engineer found himself on a plane to Pohnpei where he planned to set up the new computer lab.

“I spent many days in the lab painting, building new desks, fixing the partially collapsed ceiling, unpacking, installing, and networking computers, and configuring the server,” Betz says.

The end of summer arrived and when Betz’s flight back to the U.S. left Pohnpei, Betz was still in the computer lab.

“I felt God was calling me to stay, so that’s what I decided to do.” Betz is now the computer teacher at the Pohnpei Seventh-day Adventist School and plans to stay for at least two years.

“As each day passes, students at the school are learning more about computers and how to use them, but more importantly, students are hearing about Christ, and seeing Him modeled through the teachers here,” Betz told friends in a letter thanking them for their support of the project.

“I taught computer classes in the old relic of a lab,” Betz says, “and it is wonderful to have these new computers. The students say the same thing. In fact, many of them tell me they wish I’d brought the computers a year earlier!”

“I’m so impressed by the difference one student can make,” says Jeanne Vories, director of student missions, who helped provide structure and support for the Pohnpei Project. “I’m equally impressed that the majority of donors were young alumni.”

As to what he’ll do next, Betz isn’t sure. “My plan is just to follow God's leading. I am very passionate about being involved in ministry and mission work. Whether that will be a career or something I do on the side, I don't know yet.”

March 01, 2007 / Walla Walla University