Bad Missionary

Gret Glyer ’12 didn’t intend to put his entrepreneurship degree to work as a missionary in Africa, but after living and working in Malawi for three years, there is absolutely no place he’d rather be.

Soon after he graduated from Grove City College, Glyer landed his first job. The company looked good on paper, promised promotions and paid well. “But it wasn’t fun,” Glyer said, “It wasn’t fulfilling. If I didn’t show up to work tomorrow, it would be inconsequential. They would hire someone else to be the cog in their machine.”

Inspired by a talk by Scott Harrison, founder of Charity Water, that he saw online, Glyer decided to switch careers – and continents. Within a month he had quit his job and boarded a plane to go teach at African Bible College in Malawi. “I never thought I would be a teacher and didn’t have a degree, but it’s difficult to get teachers out to third world countries. They don’t have super high standards, so I was a perfect fit,” he said with a laugh.

In teaching, Glyer answered one of Malawi’s many needs. But in those first years he learned that he cared most about alleviating poverty. The vast majority of Malawians, more than 80 percent, live in remote villages outside the country’s few cities. In these places, tens of millions live under crushing poverty. In 2012, after just a few months in Malawi, Glyer started HOWMs, an organization that builds houses for orphans and widows at a cost of just $800.

Glyer took to the internet to raise awareness and money for the work. He uses the web-friendly handle “Bad Missionary” to set himself apart from others in the field. Initially it was just something catchy, but Glyer told his podcast audience he’s grown into the name: “Calling myself Bad Missionary has given me leeway to talk about things other missionaries don’t talk about very often, but think about quite a bit.”

Through his podcast, his YouTube series, “Village Fridays,” and his blog, “Math in Malawi,” Glyer talks and writes about real people trying to tackle what would be small problems outside the third world: a cut on a forehead, a broken window, or a bug bite. He is clearly attuned to the suffering of the remote villagers he lives with, but also the inexplicable joy of those same people who have nothing to hold to except God.

Glyer’s videos allow supporters to follow his progress and meet, at least virtually, some of the Malawians he’s trying to help. He didn’t learn his cinematic skills at Grove City College, but he did develop a passion for sharing his ideas with other people. 

“Going to Grove City and being an entrepreneurship major gave me the space to learn how to be a creative problem solver … I have a unique ability to communicate these issues that are so important to me from a unique perspective,” he said. “I have been given so much, and I need to give back.”

Recently, Glyer’s passion for alleviating poverty and increasing education, combined with his entrepreneurial spirit, took a new turn. In January, Glyer and his team – which includes fellow Grovers Dan ’12 and Miranda (Skura ’12) Vaccaro – launched a groundbreaking campaign to raise $105,000 to build a school for girls in a remote Malawian village. Girls Shine Academy will be dedicated exclusively to educating girls – who often must leave school to help care for their families – and hopefully reverse the cycle of poverty that plagues the nation.

“When you educate a girl, you educate a nation,” says Tia, a member of the village and the school’s future headmaster. “When you educate a girl, you educate a whole village,” she explained.

Glyer is raising money for the school’s construction online in manageable chunks. Week by week, money has come in and the school is beginning to take shape. What started as a plot of land overrun with grass and weeds slowly became a brick building with walls and a roof. The most recent fundraising goal of $54,000 is 94 percent funded. 

Glyer cites his time at Grove City College as some of the best, most challenging years he’s experienced, which is saying something considering his first teaching job was across the street from a slum he said was “hell on earth.” The College instilled in him a love of learning and a desire to make education more accessible. 

“People always say that we, as part of the millennial generation, don’t do enough to challenge ourselves, we don’t do hard things,” he said. “Graduating from Grove City was challenging, but it also showed me that in order built a sustainable contribution to the world, I have to do the hard things.”

This story originally ran in the Summer 2016 GēDUNK magazine. Read more HERE.

Bad Missionary

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