Can the Christian Still Teach in a
A secular world resists Christians sharing their faith. However, as a public school counselor and educator I am given an opportunity to show how Christ has worked in my heart and how my faith can impact the lives of the students and families God has entrusted to my care. The faith God has given us permeates all our vocations. We have the privilege and responsibility to be a light in this sin-filled world. The role of the Christian educator in the public system is filled with challenges, but abounds in opportunities and blessings. The familiar hymn, In Christ Alone (Getty, 2001), reminds us of the assurance that, even “through the fiercest drought and storm,” Christ provides us the foundation, light and strength to move forward in a resistant world.
Laws and policies in our school districts impede an educator’s ability to be open with his or her beliefs and share that faith with students. MacMillan argues “Even in schools where Christianity cannot be explicitly taught due to the political misinterpretation of church and state, it is possible for Christian values to be implicitly imbedded into curriculum through the instruction of democratic principles” (MacMillan, 2008). We can provide safe environments and a culture of respect and love. As a Christian it is my duty to be informed about our current contemporary issues facing our public schools and be vigilant not only as a parent, but also as an educator about the changes in policies and procedures. It is imperative to engage in conversations with our political leaders and representatives and know that “every decision made has social and strategic implications” (MacMillan, 2008). Do not be afraid to ask questions, seek truth, and stand up for what you feel is right, even when no one is doing so.
In my years as a school counselor, one particular story stays with me. While working in the public system in Colorado, I encountered a fifth grade girl newly transferred to my school. Her 18-month-old brother had just died. I remember the grief of this family with a mother and father experiencing their own grieving who could not help their grieving daughter. I first met her in my office sitting on my couch, hugging a stuffed animal, her head buried in tears. I simply put my arm around her and held her. At that moment, the little girl looked up at me and asked, “Mrs. L’Heureux, how do you get through tough times?” As my eyes welled up with tears, my response to her was simple, “Honey, I just pray.” “Will you pray with me?” she asked. “When fears are stilled, when strivings cease; My comforter, my all in all-Here in the love of Christ I stand” (Getty, 2001). I prayed with that little girl.
Even when I am not asked about my faith, it is my hope that through my actions my students would see Jesus in me. As a Christian educator I can still use Gospel language in every day situations such as using words like “grace,” “joy,” and “love” weaving the Gospel into my encounters constantly. Even the assertion of such language begins to stand as an affront to Satan’s lies.
Ultimately, prayer is an important part of my faith walk every day. As I make that drive to school, I think about those students who need a little extra grace. I pray for those families who might be going through difficult times as well as those colleagues who might be plagued with personal issues and other troubles. Our schools today need plenty of prayers. In times when our students are faced with many temptations, families are broken, budgets get cut, and beliefs are questioned, prayer gives us the fortitude to speak truth in their lives and provide hope.
Our theme this year at my school is “Wishes, Hopes and Dreams.” In our pre-year meetings, 40+ staff members shared around the room what gives them hope. Without hesitation, I shared how my faith gives me hope. It’s moments like this “Where no pow’r of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand; Till He returns or calls me home—Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand (Getty, 2001). My prayer for the Christians who are educators in public schools is that you would press on and continue to be the light in our schools.