Exclusive: Christian Education

The word “calling” is one we hear a lot around this place. We are called to love others. We are called to use our gifts and talents in a way that praises the Lord and lifts others up. We are called to serve in certain places. We are called to a vocation that the Lord has specially and wholly prepared us for. We have all been called to Dordt College to receive the preparation the Lord sees fit for our future vocational placements.

I am an education major; my heart desires nothing more than to spend the rest of my life using my gifts and knowledge in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, demonstrates His love, and prepares students for whatever their calling may be. I want nothing more than to influence high school students in a way that deepens their faith and shows them that, no matter what, they have a purpose and a reason to hope. I believe the Lord has laid it on my heart to bring Christian education to the public school.

“You could get fired for pursuing what you just described. You are so ignorant; you’ll never survive. Let me guess: you’re in it for the money.” These are all comments I hear when I bring up my desire to teach in a public school. First, if I were in anything for the money, I would not have chosen a teaching career. Secondly, I feel extremely sorry for those of you who believe Christian teachers belong in  only Christian schools. How selfish can we be to harbor all the Christian educators and place them in Christian schools, when there is a huge need for us in public schools? Is Christian education something that should be exclusive and withheld from students who, for whatever reason, cannot attend Christian schools?

Back in the Netherlands, the government makes it possible for any student, no matter their parents’ income, to attend a Christian school if they choose by funding all school. And since they bike everywhere, transportation is never an issue. While that would be incredible, we don’t live in a place where that’s possible. We live in America, where there is separation between church and state, where Christian education may not be an option for some because of money, and biking to and from Orange City every day doesn’t seem very realistic. However, neither money nor transportation means students shouldn’t be given the opportunity to see Christ’s love demonstrated in the classroom. It doesn’t mean they aren’t deserving of Christian education.

A Christian education means more than just slapping on a devotion before your math lessons and praying before lunch. A Christian education means guiding students in a way that prepares them for their role in advancing the kingdom, whatever that may be. I don’t think being in a setting where reading the Bible, doing devotions, and praying aren’t accepted makes me any less of a Christian educator. Personally, I believe doing a lot of those things makes it easy for us to be lazy as Christian educators. Being in a school where showing Christ’s love may be a challenge and not having those tangible ways of doing so may prove to be difficult as well, but I’m not interested in a career that’s easy. Just like my background and education at Dordt taught me to be honest about who I am, I have also been taught not to only make choices that are easiest on me. God didn’t call me to the easiest path; He called me to the one that I am most prepared for, the one that will advance His kingdom most. He called me to go out into the world and make disciples. He called me to be a Christian educator in public schools.

Jennifer Van Der Hoek, Columnist

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