“This school is not academic enough.”
“The teachers in that school will damage my child emotionally.”
“The students are supposed to speak in English but they are not.”
“The administration is impossible!”
“The school does not allow parents to communicate directly with the teachers.”
“Transportation to the school is a big problem.”
“Drugs and substance abuse occur frequently there.”
“There are no reasonably priced schools in our area.”
“I want my child to go to the international school, but it is too expensive.”
“I want my child to go to boarding school, but she doesn’t want to go.”
“My child wants to go to boarding school, but I am not ready to let him go.”
“My child is not fitting in and doesn’t have any friends.”
“My child has some learning issues/needs that school is not/cannot address.”
“My child has been rebelling (acting out) in ways that he hasn’t before. Is this school-related?”
Not only have I heard these statements and many others through the past years, but I have experienced some of these in the educational decisions our family has had to make. Every year we have had to look at the available options, discuss the pros and cons as a couple and sometimes as a family, and ask the Lord to guide us once again in what His plan is for each of our children this year. It is never an easy decision, and there are always upsides and downsides. And, I also realize that good options aren’t always available. In some situations, we may be faced with counting the costs to continue working where we are working, or going home. Depending on circumstances, location, and other factors, some parents may have several options to weigh carefully and prayerfully, and others may only have two (a particular schooling option or working some place else).
Recently I finished reading the book He’s Been Faithful by Carol Cymbala, the director of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. Her story (and the story of her husband Jim, as told in the book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire) are inspiring. Toward the end of her book she tells the story of a guy named Kevin who not only grew up in this church, but had been dedicated there as a baby. He tells about attending Erasmus High in Brooklyn. The buildings were in such a state of disrepair, that whenever it rained outside, it rained inside. The bathrooms were dangerous hangouts for drug dealers, so students used the stairwells as their toilets. After several rapes, slashings, and a murder, he says that “going to school became more like going to jail…full-body searches, metal detectors, and ID cards.” Robberies continued to be commonplace. Yet, through it all, Kevin states:
“Even though Erasmus wasn’t the greatest thing going, it taught me how much I needed to depend on God. Every morning as I left for school I prayed, asking God to bring me back home that night. I knew I could get it any number of ways—on the train, in a hallway at school, or maybe somebody would slash me just because they wanted my jacket. But they never did because God was keeping me safe.
I used to think that I didn’t have a story to tell. I wasn’t running around on the streets, wasn’t selling drugs, didn’t have a drinking problem. Compared to the ways God has worked in other people’s lives, my life seemed so tame. Then I started to realize that I did have a story, not so much about how God rescued me but about how he kept me safe. It’s a story about God’s power to preserve the life that has been dedicated to him.
My mother made sure that I was dedicated to the Lord when I was just starting out in life. Then she took me to church and taught me about Jesus. When I think about all the parents who have given their children to God, I just want to encourage them that God is still faithful, still able to watch over them. Even if their kids are having a hard time or are going to terrible schools or are threatened by some other kind of danger, I want to tell them not to give up. God can hear their prayers just like he heard my mother’s prayers for me. Because what you dedicate to God, he’s not going to let go of.” (pp. 164-171).
After reading this testimony, I was reminded again that no matter how big or small the problem, God is bigger still! And, He is faithful and trustworthy. When we approach Him for direction each year regarding what the plan for this school year should be, and make a decision, then we have to trust Him. Remember, you are not alone. Many parents deal with the same challenges you face and they understand. We need to rely on one another for support and encouragement. “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” (Hebrews 3:13, 14). We have an awesome and powerful God who promises to give us His strength, and to never to leave us: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). And, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5). I know how difficult it is to watch our children walk through challenging situations, but we have to remember that God is developing their character and their faith, as well as ours.