If my Christian parents had not sent their believing children to public schools, Our lives would be drastically different. My brother’s wife Aileen would not have been lost and found, and Lauren, Ashley J and Ashley B would not have been either. No, we were not God’s gift to humanity, but the children of parents who stepped out in faith and decided that our area schools needed ambassadors for Christ. Thanks mom and dad(and God for leading them!)…
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After reading a post by a fellow blogger I randomly came upon the other day, I felt compelled to write. This individual wrote a lengthily, obviously impassioned post about the benefits of Christian education to children and, I’d assume, young people as well. Though I can see much to agree on in his post, I was turned aback by his assertion that parents who put their children in public schools have made a mistake, one that should not be repeated by their children.
Now, I realize that there can be many benefits to Christian schooling, whether at a specific institution or at home. My husband was home schooled through the entirety of his elementary/highschool years and I myself was both home schooled for three years and attended a small Christian school for four years. I treasure the biblical knowledge I aquired, not only through bible lessons and assigned memorizations from both the bible and hymnal, but also the pro-creation view point by which I learned science, thanks to the A Becca home schooling program.
BUT,I spent all of my highschool years at secular high schools and would not trade the experiences I had there for anything as they both grew me and I feel grounded me further in the things I had learned before. Furthermore, quite frankly my siblings and I were needed quite desperately in those God-forsaken(I mean literally) halls. Let me tell you about my experience as a Christian in a public school. That sounds like quite a lengthily endeavor but I will try to keep this to the point!
Before my family (with the exception of my brother Tim and his wife), moved to Atlanta in ’99, I went to Ancaster High School in Ontario, what some kids called “the pharmacy” because of all the drug use among the students there. It was a ghetto school both because of the decrepit, neglected exterior and the many darkly clothed, black nailed Marilyn Manson groupies or baggy-clothed, white wife beater wearing gangsta wanabies who loafed through the interior. I was so shy and scared when I first went there. I knew no one except for my older sister and was utterly insecure in this foreign environment. I looked at the ground when I walked, I wore a constant frown and even had periods of trouble catching my breath because of nerves. My first and only friend for quite a while was a Mormon girl named Melissa. Our common bond of being on the outside gave us a quick camaraderie but, as a devout Mormon, she was not allowed to come over to our house and I was not permitted in hers. Thus, our friendship could only go so far. The situation was tough and ninth grade was a lousy year full of loneliness. Being taken under the wing by Mr. Falknor, the cross-country coach, and running with the team was my one outlet of hope and purpose. I found a niche there and quickly rose to become second and later first on the “midget girls” team. Throughout everything, I never shirked from speaking my mind in class, even though my views of Christianity being the sole truth in sociology class or upholding traditional female roles in English were not widely shared. Ironically though, in a school where 99% of the students were non-religious and very “PC”, I do not remember coming up against a lot of assault or cricism. Sticking things out, I went into the tenth grade with sense of purpose that God was going to use me at Ancaster High. That fall, I ran a lot with Lauren Woods. I remember it was on the dirt track near the football fields that I was first able to share Isaiah 40 with her, my favorite chapter of the bible, and the words “But those who hope in the Lord will rise up on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” were poignant to her as well. Later that year, she came to a full understanding of sin and repentance, accepting Christ as her savior. The most amazing thing was that after that point, together she and I were able to witness to the “hippie” group we hung out with (thanks to her); the kindest, most sincere friends I had in high school. Somehow, they “got” me. Months later, when I had to leave Ancaster High for a new home in Atlanta, Georgia, my heart ached for the people we were leaving behind-a feeling I never would have known was possible in the loneliness and alienation of grade nine. At Lassiter High School, my younger sister Grace joined me. We began from square one together and though I stumbled for a while, a wandering lamb running for the cliffs, Grace reached out to Ashley, quirky and fun loving, yet without any familial support of any kind. Through dinners at our house, talks in Grace’s room, and rides to youth group in mom’s ancient, green van, there never was born a more eclectic and energetic Christian. A year later, Ashley J, a friend of Grace’s from Ontario, came to Atlanta for the summer and accepted Christ at a youth retreat.
Broken homes, absent single parents, the avoidance of religion in Canada and thus the ignorance of the people, the over-production of evangelical jargon and products in the south and the lethargy of its people. Our Western culture is in desperate need of help and deliverance. Let us raise children who are God’s children; surrendered to Him that they might be His vessels, available to go where we have been called to lead them, even if that means putting them into the public school system. Let us show them what it means to passionately share their faith, love and reach out to others that we would not raise kids who are pious and reclusive for the savior of the world. As a wise man wrote, “It is easy to die for Christ. It is hard to live for him. Dying takes only an hour or two, but to live for Christ means to die daily. Only during the few years of this life are we given the privilege of serving each other and Christ…We shall have heaven forever, but only a short time for service here, and therefore WE MUST NOT WASTE THE OPPORTUNITY.”