The first-ever administrator at Plaza Heights Christian Academy is stepping down at the close of school to become a missionary in the Philippines.



The Rev. Mike Hart says he and his wife, Kathy, and their daughters, Lauren, 14, and Madison, 8, are following the Holy Spirit’s prompting to care for orphans in the Philippines, where UNICEF estimates there are nearly 2 million orphans.

The first-ever administrator at Plaza Heights Christian Academy is stepping down at the close of school to become a missionary in the Philippines.

The Rev. Mike Hart says he and his wife, Kathy, and their daughters, Lauren, 14, and Madison, 8, are following the Holy Spirit’s prompting to care for orphans in the Philippines, where UNICEF estimates there are nearly 2 million orphans.

“Our primary purpose,” says the soft-speaking educator, “is to help build and then run an orphanage that is already under way” in Thebic, a suburb of Manilia.

Sitting with his wife on a couch in his small office at the Blue Springs school, Hart explains his family has joined the team of First Love International Ministries, a non-denominational mission agency founded to bring Christ’s message to those in impoverished regions of the world.

The orphanage – two factory buildings being renovated – will house some 100 boys and girls. When will the orphanage open? That’s contingent on when the needed funds are raised.

“There is a couple working there right now,” he notes, “raising funds to convert the factory into living quarters.”

The Harts leave next summer. How long they remain in the Philippines is up to the Lord, Hart says.

“We said we would go for two years, but beyond that, I don’t know. We will be praying to see if the Lord wants us to stay. If He does, we will stay.”

One of the biggest challenges is financial assistance.

“We have to raise 100 percent of our own support,” he says, which includes about $5,000 per month for living and ministry expenses. In addition, the Harts need an additional $15,000 in start-up costs for travel, transportation and an apartment.

Although excited about joining the First Love team, the Harts are “a little bit apprehensive about going to the Philippines for the first time – sight unseen.”

But they aren’t fearful.

“I don’t want to sound holier than thou,” Hart says, “but you are as safe as can be when you are in the center of God’s will. And that’s where I want to be. ... I don’t know what I am doing, so I will totally have to trust in the Lord.”

Neither did Hart know what he was doing when he became administrator of Plaza Heights Christian Academy some 12 years ago without any training in school administration. Upon seeing the job posted in the bulletin of Plaza Heights Baptist Church, where he and his family attend, he applied because he was looking for an occupation that had “eternal significance.”

“I thought, ‘Well, I wonder if God can use me even though I don’t have an administration degree,’” Hart recalls. However, he did have an undergraduate degree and was just a couple of hours shy from getting a master’s in technology.

To his surprise, he was offered the job.

Prior to taking the position, the Warsaw, Mo., native taught eight years at Blue Springs South High School – social studies for seven years and a year of shop.

With Hart as administrator, Plaza Heights Christian Academy debuted with about 70 students in preschool through the sixth grade.

“I think we only had six teachers and me,” the 42-year-old educator says, recalling grades were combined. There were no secretaries, sports or extracurricular activities.

Today, PHCA has 225 students in preschool through the 12th grade, 25 full-time and part-time teachers, two administrators, three  secretaries, as well as numerous clubs, extracurricular activities and five major sports in which students can participate. As for his legacy, Hart says nothing should be attributed to him.

“I just point to the Lord. Like I said, I don’t have an administration degree. I did not know what I was doing when I started, so I have always considered (PHCA) God’s school, and I have been humbled that He could use me to lead it.

As for why he has remained loyal to the school he opened in 1999, Hart points to God.

“I felt this was where God wanted us, and I wanted to be in God’s will,” he says, then adds: “That feeling of ‘what am I doing of any eternal significance’ that I had while teaching in public school, well, that was fulfilled (at PHCA), you know.”

Though Hart loved his job, he began wondering a couple of years ago where the Lord might want him to serve next.

While he and Kathy were attending a Christmas open house last year, they heard about a couple in the Philippines searching for a couple to head up an orphanage they were building.

The Harts didn’t think too much about it at the time. But separately, over the next two months, Mike and Kathy had been thinking about the missionary couple and began communicating with them.

Admitting he was unable to think about anything else, Hart says he would wake up at night thinking about the orphanage.

“So I started praying about it,” he said. “We felt like we wanted to explore it and move forward. So (Kathy) contacted them ... we applied ... and First Love invited us to join them as missionaries.”

Before accepting the invitation, the Harts wanted to be sure their 14-year-old daughter really wanted to make the biggest move of her life. If she balked, the move was off.

So Hart took Lauren with him last summer on a 10-day mission trip to Nicaragua. Hart kept waiting for just the right time to share with Lauren, but the time never came, that is, until they were sitting in the airport, away from the others, waiting to return home.

It was in this solitude that Lauren put her head on her dad’s shoulder and asked, “Dad, can we move here?”

“Well, no,” he replied, “but how would you like to move to some place like this?”

Says Hart: “I shared a little bit right then and her eyes got wide and she started asking me questions,” Hart says, recalling the family got together the next day in the privacy of their Blue Springs home to discuss the proposed move.

“(Lauren) went through the gamut of emotions. She cried because she was going to miss her friends and everything. But by the end of the conversation, she was ready to go.”

Bon voyage, Mike, Kathy, Lauren and Madison. May the Lord richly bless you as you share the good news of Jesus Christ in the Philippines. To God be the glory.