Christian Educators in These Challenging Times
By David Schmus
We are experiencing extremely challenging times. From finishing a school year in which you probably didn’t get to say goodbye to your students except through a screen, to racial injustice and violence boiling over in our cities, to projected budget cuts and potential drastic health measures impacting the fall and our future, this has been a lot to handle.
As educators, part of our calling is to help our students make sense of these times. Yet, we certainly don’t have all the answers. It was definitely a healing time to pray with Marilyn Rhames of Teachers Who Pray on our national prayer call last week, as we lamented together the racial divide in our nation and sought unity in the presence of Jesus. While we do know that violence is not the answer, there remains work to be done to promote justice for all beyond simply restoring order. For that work to last, Jesus must be in the center, His word must be honored, and we must root it in prayer. When we pray, hearts are changed and eyes are opened, including our own.
Part of that work for me has been intentional conversations with those who don’t look like me in order to learn from their experience and extend God’s love in prayer. I have learned that I don’t have to agree with someone on every social cause or political solution in order to have my heart break for what they have experienced and to work toward understanding. It’s amazing how many walls come down when we just make imperfect efforts to get past fear and simply understand.
God is at work in the midst of this. I was so encouraged to read of the public proclamation of the gospel, baptisms, and healings at the very street corner where George Floyd was tragically killed, as well as spirited believers filling protests with God’s peace and reconciliation. As we pray, let’s also remember the many devoted and honorable law enforcement officials who continue to protect us and do their best to uphold true justice for all.
I know many of you are afraid to say anything at all about this, lest you unintentionally offend someone. I am not immune from a bit of that fear as I write this. But we don’t have to let that stop us from letting the Spirit lead us and trusting Jesus for the results. This world needs Him, and we are His ambassadors. Like the Good Samaritan, let’s model for our students how to love those around us who are different, rather than crossing to the other side of the street in avoidance.
Finally, in terms of our public health crisis, many states are now publishing guidelines for districts on how to reopen schools in the fall. However, the most critical decisions will likely be made at the district and school levels. If you have concerns, you might consider reaching out to your principal or superintendent in a proactive way. As you do, we encourage you to reach out in faith, not out of fear—we’ve unfortunately seen some reports of teachers issuing ultimatums about how things “must” be. Remember that your leaders are under tremendous pressure. We encourage you to pray for them and help them make wise decisions with gentleness and respect. Maybe God is giving you wisdom to be part of the solution moving forward.
We have resolved many questions from our members about these issues. Part of our calling is to help precious educators like you navigate uncharted waters with God’s help. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
I am praying that you would find the Lord’s peace even in these uncertain times. He has placed us in our roles as educators for such a time as this.
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