LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE LAST 30 YEARS
By E A Foster B.A.
It is good to learn lessons from the past. The Bible records the past for our learning, comfort and encouragement. The past thirty years have taught me much about the true nature of Christian Education.
THE CHRISTIAN TEACHER
We have not only learned something of the nature of the truly Christian school. We have learned what constitutes truly Christian teachers i.e. teachers called of God and gifted by God to teach in a Christian school. They are not job seekers or those who think it would be nice to work with children.
The main characteristics of truly Christian teachers are as follows:
1. Self-denial. Christian teachers have learned to die to self and sin. They know something of being crucified with Christ, of having crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. They have died to ambition and to the world. The Bible speaks of taking root down- ward and bearing fruit upwards. The teacher must be like the root, going down into the place of death, obscurity and humility in order to bear fruit.
2. Going the second mile. If asked to go one mile, they go two. They see jobs to be done and look for more. They are like Christ Who “came not to be ministered unto but to minister” (Matt. 20:28). In Luke 22:27, He said, “I am among you as he that serveth”. That is their disposition and attitude.
3. Being filled with the Spirit. This is the duty of every Christian but is specially and earnestly sought by Christian teachers. They realise that they cannot do God’s work in the energy of the flesh. God gives the Holy Ghost to them who ask. Luke 11:13 states: “If ye then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”
4. Being sold out to God. God and His work come first and everything else takes second place. “Not I but Christ” is their motto. Some of our teachers are mothers with young children. God has enlarged their heart to care for the education not only of their own children but also the children of others. They remind me of the kine who carried the ark back from Philistia to the land of Israel. Their calves were shut up at home but against their natural instinct to be with their offspring, they went steadily on serving the cause of God.
5. Compassion. They have sympathy for the children in their care. They wipe away the tears and comfort the distressed. They care for the progress and wellbeing of the children. Like Ezekiel who went out to the captives at the river of Chebar in Babylon and sat where they sat, Christian teachers are able to empathise with their pupils.
6. Prayerfulness. They are assiduous in attending staff prayer meetings, monthly school prayer meetings and days of prayer. They do not consider such prayer meetings as a burdensome duty but an opportunity and privilege. They are diligent in private prayer. They don’t just say prayers. They have learned to intercede and plead the promises. They wrestle in prayer. Teachers who don’t pray don’t stay the course.
7. Diligence. They are diligent in preparation, punctual in reporting for work and play- ground duties, diligent in keeping records and diligent in their cleaning duties, in short, they are examples to the pupils.
8. Modesty. They adhere to what the Scriptures teach about modesty of dress and appearance. They seek the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. They seek spiritual beauty and long that the beauty of Christ may be seen in them. They are not the slaves of fashion or fashion houses.
9. Love for Christ. They love the Lord with all their heart, mind, strength and soul. Such a love excludes a love for the world. All, all that is in the world, is the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1John 2:16). There is nothing else in the world! There is nothing for the Christian to love in the world! These are the features of Christian teachers. Ah, they count not themselves to have apprehended: but this one thing they do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, they press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13-14).
THE CONSEQUENCES OF FAILURE FOR THE FREE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
In conclusion, I have learned something of the consequences of not providing Christian Education. Our church experienced revival as a result of separation from apostasy. Christian schools were the next logical step in our separation unto God. Sadly, our church did not accept the challenge of Christian schools. The path has been downhill ever since. We have a church which is riddled with worldliness and materialism. Our young people have been swept away by worldly music and worldly social activities. Where is the holiness which God demands and without which no man will see the Lord?
In Numbers 14, we read of a people who also refused a challenge. They refused to go forward into Canaan, despite the good reports and reassurances of the faithful spies, Caleb and Joshua. Because of perceived difficulties, they refused to enter the land of promise. They were so hostile to Caleb and Joshua that they would have stoned them. As a result, they were turned back to wander in the wilderness for another 38 years. Does that scenario seem familiar? It does to me. The church was urged to consider the need for Christian education. Those who started Christian schools urged others to launch out, for God was able to overcome every difficulty. Many were not only indifferent but downright hostile to the whole idea. Because of perceived difficulties, blown up out of all proportion, many were not willing to set up schools. The church has become increasingly barren. May God be merciful and revive the church, for a revived church will demand Christian Education for its children.