Susanna, over at her blog, has just posted a stimulating article she entitled “Pious and Reclusive for Christ” which discusses Christian children who attend public schools. I’d like to point out that Susanna, who is a particularly intelligent and beautiful blogger, just so happens to be one of my three little sisters. At this point she is the only one who blogs.
Susanna came across a post on another blog which extolled the value of Christian education (and I would assume this would mean the author is primarily an advocate of home education) and indicated that parents who allow their children to attend public schools are making a great mistake.
My sister goes on to detail some of the benefits of my parents’ decision to allow their children to attend public schools. She points to several relationships that led the friend to become a believer.
She states correctly that had I not attended Ancaster Public School in the twelfth grade, I would not have met my wife. Aileen and I met on the first day of twelfth grade when we found ourselves seated near each other in Ms. Rowe’s history class.
You know, I have a repeating nightmare about Ms. Rowe. It’s very odd, but every few months I have a dream about showing up late to her class and having her mock me mercilessly. It seems that I have missed the first several weeks of her course and am now hopelessly lost, doomed to fail. I have no idea why I dream about her, even all these years later, but I do. I think she must have permanently terrified me. The funny thing is that she really seemed to like me.
But I digress.
Aileen and I met in her class, as Aileen recognized me as a friend of a friend (or, more accurately, the friend of her neighbor). Through the semester we talked and flirted a whole lot, but when the term ended we no longer shared classes and went our seperate ways. Plus, she had a boyfriend already. As you can imagine, he wasn’t a big fan of yours truly. I fast-tracked through twelfth grade and left high school a year before Aileen (there were thirteen grades in Ontario at that time) and promptly forgot all about her. But then at the end of my first year of university I got a phone call from her. Susanna answered the phone and handed it to me, trying to embarrass me by saying “It’s your girlfriend.” Once I remembered who Aileen was, we got along famously. It seemed that she was calling to ask all about McMaster University, since she was hoping to attend that school. I wondered why she needed to ask me since her father was on staff there, and had been for twenty years. But then the truth came out. She asked me to accompany her to the year-end prom. I refused. Being the stubborn type (and if you know her, you’re probably giggling about now), she later asked me to take her to a party with her friends. I refused again. But somehow she persisted and we began to see each other. It was not long before I found myself engaged in the dangerous game of “flirt-‘n-convert.” Thankfully God saw fit to make us the one couple of a thousand where this actually has a happy ending. She went out with my mother one night and gave her life to the Lord.
Reminiscing about days gone-by led me far off-track, but the point is, that without attending Ancaster (Public) High School (aka “the pharmacy”) I would never have met Aileen and she would not have been saved. Or, at least, she would not have been saved in that way.
Susanna talks about her friend Lauren, a beautiful friend who came to the Lord through Susanna’s friendship. Lauren has become a strong and vibrant believer who will surely be used to touch many lives.
And Grace, my youngest sister, has always been the greatest evangelist out of the five children. Several of her friends have come to know the Lord. Ashley J, whom I consider my fourth sister, is serving the Lord in Asia right now, working with the poor and destitute, sharing the Good News that saves. Another of Gracie’s friends, Nichole, may be a believer. She seemed to give her life to the Lord several years ago, though has struggled mightily since then. And there are more.
What is the common thread here? What binds all of these examples together is that these people were friends we met during our time at public schools. My parents did not send us to school with tracts and Jack Chick comic books to distribute to our friends. No, they did far better than that. They sent us equipped with the Good News and with the knowledge of who we are in Christ. And that was enough. While each of us had times of doubt and disillusionment (as seems to be common to those who grow up in Christian families), none of us were led far astray by unbelieving friends. We were able to bear witness to our Savior, even when we were only young children.
As I consider my children’s education, I find myself constantly changing my mind. Home education is a possibility, but neither my wife or I feel the desire to educate our children in that way. Christian schools are obnoxiously expensive. And so we continue to assume that our children will go to public schools (albiet French-immersion schools which tend to be a good bit more conservative than the English-only alternative). We feel that if we equip our children and build relationships with them where we will know them almost as well as they know themselves (as my parents did with us), they will be able to not only survive in their schools, but they will be able to thrive, bringing the Good News to those who are most likely to receive it – the children.