I know it has been a few weeks since I have posted. I thought that I was going to be able to spend some extra time during Fall Break to write future articles, but that didn’t happen. Then I started writing this article last week, had completely typed out what I thought I wanted to say, only to realize it really wasn’t what God wanted me to say or how He wanted me to say it. So, now, here are my thought on the passion I have gained for public schools.
At a very early age I felt like God had set me apart to do some kind of work in the realm of missions. In fact you may or may not know that my wife and I had planned on being missionaries in Newfoundland, Canada. We were trying to raise funds for nearly a year, before the Lord gave us a sudden change of direction. When the Lord brought that change it was a good thing. It was a time that God needed to teach us some very important lessons. I became the youth pastor of a church in South Carolina and it was there that I first began to have some real interaction with Public School students. The youth group I started to lead was largely made up of students who went to the public schools, the breakdown was something like 30/10 public to Christian school teens. Most of these teens were in homes of families who came to church with them, with a few who came with friends. But this youth group was a lot different that any of the youth groups in which I attended as a teen. The youth groups I had been in had always been the opposite, 90% of the kids I grew up with were in some sort of Christian education. While the breakdown was a lot different from what I knew, the teens weren’t any different than what I had seen in my own youth groups. They were teens who were seeking direction, seeking identity, and seeking for God.
Those were the starting years of my life in ministry. Even though it has been almost 4 years since I have left that ministry, I still keep up with many of the youth who were in that group. I am proud to see many of them going on to serve the Lord, some are pursuing ministry, others are looking at the medical field or other careers, and others still may not be sure what God wants them to do, but it thrills my heart to see many of them still serving the Lord with their whole heart. My heart for public schools started with this youth group and has continued since. Now just so you don’t get the wrong picture, this doesn’t mean that I like public school kids any more than the Christian/ Home School kids, I just have gained a heartbeat for helping those in the public schools.
Since leaving South Carolina and moving to Georgia, the Lord has really multiplied that burden more for the public schools. When coming to the church we currently serve at, I knew that I would have to become a bi-vocational youth pastor. I didn’t know what kind of job I would be able to get. I applied at a bunch of different places, but made it clear that I wouldn’t be available most weekends or on Wednesday nights, after all a youth pastors busiest times is on the weekends, and I certainly didn’t want to miss teaching the teens on Wednesdays. This didn’t make for a lot of job opportunities. Then someone mentioned I ought to consider substitute teaching for the local public schools. So I took the class, had my background check run, and got onto the substitute list. Once my name was approved and teachers knew I would be available to teach, the phone started ringing and I started substituting a few days every week. Now I have been substituting for 3 years.
My heart for missions work has never died. I didn’t know exactly why the Lord gave me such a heart for missions if He wasn’t going to let us go to a foreign mission field, but after 3 years of substitute teaching, I have finally found the mission field God has been preparing for me. The Lord can do amazing things in the public schools and to many times Christians distance themselves from this establishment. No doubt this education system is not right for every Christian child. Some would say it isn’t fit for any Christian, period, but is a school any worse than the rest of the world system children are exposed to through living life every day?
It takes special people, both teachers and children, to be called into this vast mission field, just as it takes a special calling for someone to board a plane and fly half way around the world to reach a people whose language they don’t speak, and whose culture is completely foreign to them. But God still calls them. Is there dangers within the walls of a public school? Yes, no doubt there is, just as there are dangers that lurk on every corner of life. This is the reason why we must seek God’s face for grace and guidance every day. Just because a Christian child is raised in a Christian home, doing Christian schooling, and attending a Christian church does not mean that they are exempt from falling away from the principles taught in your home. Just because a Christian child is taught in a public school, is faced with the difficulties there, and will have their faith challenged does not make them a sure candidate to fail as a child of God. This issue is not as black and white as some would like to make it seem. In a perfect world all Christian children would never stray, especially those who were brought up with all things “Christian”, but we live in a fallen world, a world where good families see their children choose by their own free will to reject God. These were homes that tried to give direction, cared about the discipline of their children, and cared about the spiritual well-being of their children.
Imagine the millions of children who face life with no direction, with no one who cares about their discipline, about their spiritual well-being. This is a large majority of children who attend the public school. No one to love them, screaming for attention, yet Christians want to stay away from them. Let them rot, let them die, let them spend a Christ-less eternity in Hell, because of how wicked the school system is. Do we tell missionaries not to go to dangerous countries? Do we stop missionaries and say, “Don’t you know how wicked that country is? Don’t go to that country because their government is evil! Don’t go to this country because your children will be exposed to things that aren’t Biblical! They might be influenced by that country and those people!”? NO! But we will tell a Christian they are in sin for sending their child to a public school. We might even tell an adult that they are in sin for teaching in one of those “God forsaken” schools. But the only reason they are “God forsaken” is because Christians have abandoned them, Christians have shunned them, Christians have put them on the “leprosy” list and cry “DON’T TOUCH THEM! DON’T GO NEAR THEM! UNCLEAN, UNCLEAN!”. But last I checked in my Bible, Christ came to heal the lepers, and He called us to be like Him.
Some would say the best way to reach those in the public schools is by driving church buses and picking them up from their homes, finding them on visitation, and inviting them to church. These are great methods! But how many millions fall through the cracks of this strategy? Who will invite them if no Christians are called to reach them in the school halls? Who will be the Light to them, if we snub every Christian child and teacher out of the system? No one! But thank the Lord not every Christian has bought into the lie that Christians do not have a place in the public schools. Thank God that there are Christian students and teachers who still have an open door to win others to Christ and who have answered the call to be missionaries to this great mission field. Thank the Lord that he still gives youth pastors, like myself, the opportunity to not only substitute teach in the school, but to also be able to teach Bible classes in the school on a regular basis. Thank the Lord that He still has people preaching His Word and the free gift of salvation through programs like the FCA and Children’s Bible Clubs. God said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14). Praise God for his love for these children, and for those who He has and who He will raise up to continue to be that shining Light into the Public schools.
The doors of opportunity are closing quickly on being able to get the Gospel in the public school systems. Christians should flood those doors as much as possible before the doors completely shut.