My Christian Nursery

Can you explain briefly who you are and what your nursery is like?

My name is Paullette Jean-Jacques and I am a 41 year old mother of two children. Lauren aged 9 and Benjamin aged 6.

Granary Pre-Schools is a full day Christian nursery. We take children from the age of 18 months to 5 years. No child is excluded and we have many children from Muslim and Hindu backgrounds, as well as Christian backgrounds.

What were you doing before?

My background is in PR. I started as a secretary many moons ago and progressed to be a PR executive. I worked for various companies but left to have my first child, Lauren. I completed a Diploma in Management Studies during this time and was on course to finish an MBA. I failed the finance model and retook it when Lauren was two weeks old! Thankfully I just scraped through!

After having Lauren I didn’t return to work and formed my first company called Paublo Books Limited, a mail order company specialising in the sale of multicultural books written mainly by black and Asian authors. Unfortunately after some time I wasn’t able to continue in the business due to financial pressures and left in 1998. My leaving coincided with the birth of our second child Benjamin.

I stayed at home for some time but to make ends meet, I decided to look for local temporary work as a secretary. I eventually got a booking working for GlaxoWellcome (now GlaxoSmithKline) 15 minutes from home on an initial two-week booking. After two weeks I was kept on and eventually stayed for two years!

How did the nursery come about?

During this time I watched a programme on the God channel about an orphanage for HIV/AIDS children in Malawi, South Africa, named Kondanani. Rory Alec, the founder of the God Channel, was being given a tour by the owner, Annie. They showed lots of beautiful little babies whose parents were dead or dying of AIDS and who could no longer care for them. Annie showed Rory a poorly little baby but when she picked him up it was apparent he didn’t have many more minutes to live. I was broken when I saw this and cried out to the Lord, asking Him how I could help these children. Some weeks later the idea (or inspiration) came to me to establish a Christian nursery and some of the proceeds would go to Kondanani to help care for the children.

During my time at GlaxoWellcome I spent time in researching and seeking to set up a nursery. As time passed, God gave me a dream whereby I went to a building and was greeted by a slim black lady. As I entered the building I saw it was a fully equipped nursery. From then on I believed God had already provided the building and the nursery would come to pass. Little did I know it would take almost two and half years! My family and friends were enthusiastic but as time passed, people stopped asking in fear of offending my husband Ralph and I. I had times when I didn’t think it would happen but bless God, He kept his word and in January 2003 Granary Pre-Schools was opened.

We started with four children and from the first month we have been faithfully sending money to Kondanani.

In what ways is it a specifically Christian nursery?

The manager (the woman I saw in my dream – that’s another testimony!), two nursery assistants and myself, the proprietor, are born again Christians. The other staff members are churchgoers but as we witness we believe they are on their way to accepting Christ as their personal Saviour.

In line with Ofsted, the children are taught using the Early Learning Goals curriculum. We have a strong Christian ethos which is threaded into the curriculum using various tools such as prayer, bible stories, songs, drama etc, At registration time we begin with prayer. The children also say prayers. Each week is themed and Christianity again is linked to the theme. The nursery also integrates into the nursery its links with Kondanani and African Inland Churches (Christian schools we support in the Sudan). A Hindu parent regularly donates funds to Kondanani!

Parents are aware and accept that we do not recognize or practice any other religion or pagan festival including Halloween and Guy Faulkes. Granary Pre-Schools is the only Christian nursery in Harrow.

What have parents and children made of the fact that it is a Christian nursery? We have no opposition from the parents. At Granary Pre-Schools we make it very clear that we are a Christian nursery. We did have one parent who was a Jehovah’s Witness and who said she loved the nursery but asked that her child didn’t celebrate her birthday or pray with the other children. The manager was able to witness to her for some time. Although she declined the nursery we trust a seed was sown.

We are not naïve; some parents do decide not to place their children with us because we are Christian. If we didn’t say we were Christian we would probably be already full with a waiting list, but we’re not prepared to compromise the gospel. God will fill this nursery in His time. One parent when placing her child said it was an answer to prayer for her child to attend a Christian nursery. She has been praying for a long time that God would provide a Christian nursery in Harrow. Her child has now gone off to school but her youngest is due to attend in 2005.

One child of Hindu background attended this nursery for almost a year. He has some learning difficulties and when asked to pray Hindu prayers at home would say he wanted to say nursery (Christian) prayers. On numerous occasions he would ask the manager to read Psalm 23 to him. She would often read it to the children when they wouldn’t settle. Although he has left to go to school his mother occasionally brings him back for visits and has recommended other Hindu parents to place their children with us.

Do you employ Christian staff?

We operate equal opportunities when recruiting staff. However God has allowed us to interview and select Christians and people who don’t oppose the gospel. We inform candidates in the interview process that this is a Christian setting, explaining that we pray with the children and tell the children about Jesus. We then ask them if they would feel comfortable working in such an environment. One student placed by her college was amazed to be placed in a Christian nursery. As a committed Christian she had wished (not knowing one existed) she could work in a Christian setting.

It is such a joy to work in a Christian setting where we are able to ‘openly’ praise God. We also encourage and support each other from a biblical perspective, and answer questions which non-believers inevitably ask.

Parents welcome being offered prayer when going through problems. A Christian employee has a ministry to the Asian community and has invited a number of Asian parents to attend with their children. Our staff meetings start with a prayer and events such as our graduation celebrations and the nativity play is centred on our love of Jesus.

How has opening and running this nursery affected your own faith and relationship with God?

God amazes me. He has proved how awesome He is and that what He said He would do, He does. My faith in God has deepened and my relationship has grown even closer to him.

I see my time at GlaxoWellcome as a wilderness experience where I had to cling to him believing he would bring me out. In hindsight I see it was a time of preparation and indeed I was able to complete all my research and educate myself in the nursery market. Since God brought me ‘out’ and the nursery is set up, I continue to cling to Him but in a different way. I have to seek him daily to ensure that His business is being run as it should be, for wisdom, insight and discernment. Granary Pre-Schools is very much God’s pre-school.

Has your church been involved with it, if so, in what ways?

Granary Pre-Schools is a private entity apart from my church. I first approached my church (Rayners Lane Baptist Church, Harrow) to use a building on the site. In the end, I wasn’t able to use that building but one of the Deacons, an area Scout Leader, was aware I was looking for premises and told me about another building. He was very supportive in helping me to secure the building, which was a battle in itself. Many times it seemed it wouldn’t happen. But it did, even though it took over two and half years.

How do you see the future of Granary Pre-Schools?

I chose the name Granary Pre-Schools because granary means a storehouse of grain. The strap line of the nursery is ‘where nurture’s second nature’. I see our role at Granary Pre-Schools as nurturing the seeds, by that I mean the children we have the privilege of caring for. By telling the children about Jesus we stand on the scripture (Ecclesiastes 11 v1) Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again. As for the future, I believe that God will increase the number of Granary Pre-Schools. I purposely made the name of the nursery plural believing that God will increase us to be in more than one venue. I also believe that God will allow me to open an orphanage for children. Where, I don’t know, but I trust it will transpire as times goes on.

Recently, a number of parents have come forward asking if we’re thinking of opening a baby unit, as they’ll happily place their child in a Christian setting. I am currently praying for God to provide us with another setting for a baby unit. It is very difficult to source premises in Harrow but what’s impossible with man is possible with God.

As a word of encouragement, God is no respecter of persons. He has proved to me that when you cry out to Him with all your heart, He will hear and respond. I bless His Holy and matchless name and thank Him daily for the privilege He has given me. My hope is to be obedient and please Him. I am mindful that He watches me daily, is aware of my actions and with the responsibility He has given me, I know He requires more from me.

Related links.

Our nursery website can be found at Granary Preschools The kondanani website can be found at Kondanani