Month: September 2022

Creatividad en la creación

Niña de 9 años ilustra dibujo animado para compartir historias de la Biblia con sus amigos

Kamila Reyna siempre ha sido una niña artística. 

Desde cantar frente a cientos de personas hasta compartir devocionales, esta niña de 9 años nunca ha tenido miedo de mostrar los talentos que Dios le ha dado frente a los demás. Sus padres -Jonatan Reyna, pastor de Paramount en español en Amarillo, y su esposa, Karla- siempre la han animado a usar esos talentos para Su servicio.

Recientemente, mientras jugaba con una aplicación de actividades para niños, Kamila aprendió que podía animar personajes y escenas, lo que le proporcionó otra vía para hacer precisamente eso. 

“Encontré un botón en [la aplicación] Toca Boca que no sabía para qué servía y cuando lo pulsé, me di cuenta de que podía grabar mi voz y hacer un video”, dijo. “[Así que pensé], ¡quizás debería empezar a hacer vídeos!”.

Kamila envió su primer vídeo a su padre, quien se sorprendió de lo que su hija había creado. El 15 de julio, el pastor Reyna publicó el video en su página de Facebook. El video animado dura dos minutos y siete segundos y narra la historia bíblica de la creación del libro del Génesis. Kamila narró personalmente el clip y fue bien recibido por quienes lo vieron en la página de su padre. 

Kamila and her family said they hope God will continue to open doors for them to impact the children in their community with the gospel.

“Mi deseo es que los niños conozcan a Jesús y lo reciban en sus corazones”

“Pregunté en la publicación si sería buena idea crear un canal de YouTube con los dibujos animados de mi hija”, dijo el pastor Reyna, “¡y muchos me escribieron que me apresurara a hacerlo! … Como ella está haciendo estos dibujos animados y ha estado haciendo devocionales, esta es una gran oportunidad para combinar ambos para compartir la Palabra”.

Viendo una oportunidad para que Kamila utilice la aplicación y sus habilidades para ministrar y motivar a otros niños y personas de su comunidad, el pastor Reyna y su esposa han animado a Kamila a seguir creando videos con contenido bíblico. Una de las oportunidades potenciales que el pastor Reyna ve en la creación de dibujos animados como este es que pueden ser utilizados como un vehículo para la evangelización. Dijo que Kamila ya ha hablado de Jesús con muchos de sus amigos en la escuela, que se encuentra justo detrás de la iglesia. 

Debido a su experiencia no sólo como profesor de música, sino en la edición de video y la producción de sonido, el pastor Reyna dijo que planea asociarse con Kamila para hacer más animaciones que seguirán utilizando un estilo más moderno de animación.

Kamila tiene ahora un canal de YouTube y está creando contenidos para niños de todas las edades. Ella y su familia dicen que esperan que Dios les siga abriendo puertas para impactar a los niños de su comunidad con el evangelio.

“Mi deseo es que los niños conozcan a Jesús y lo reciban en sus corazones”, dijo Kamila.

Getting creative about creation

9-year-old digitally illustrates cartoon to share Bible story with friends

Kamila Reyna has always been an artistic child. 

From singing in front of hundreds of people to sharing devotionals, the 9-year-old has never been afraid to display her God-given talents in front of others. Her parents—Jonatan Reyna, pastor of Paramount en Español in Amarillo, and his wife, Karla—have always encouraged her to use those talents in His service.

While playing with a kids’ activity app called Toca Boca recently, Kamila learned she could animate characters and scenes, providing her with another avenue to do just that. 

“I found a button in [the app] that I didn’t know what it was for, and when I clicked it, I realized I could record my voice and make a video,” she said. “[So I thought], maybe I should start making videos!”

Kamila sent her first video to her dad, who was surprised at what she had created. On July 15, Pastor Reyna posted the video on his Facebook page. The animated video lasts two minutes and seven seconds and recounts the biblical creation story from the book of Genesis. Kamila personally narrated the clip, and it was well-received from those who saw it on her dad’s page. 

Kamila and her family said they hope God will continue to open doors for them to impact the children in their community with the gospel.

“My desire is that kids know about Jesus and receive Him into their hearts.”

“I asked in the post if it would be a good idea to create a YouTube channel with my daughter’s cartoons,” Pastor Reyna said, “and many wrote me to hurry up and do it! … Since she is doing these cartoons and has been doing devotionals, this is a great opportunity to combine them both to share the Word.”

Seeing an opportunity for Kamila to use the app and its abilities to minister to and motivate other children and people in their community, Pastor Reyna and his wife have encouraged Kamila to continue creating videos with biblical content. One of the potential opportunities Pastor Reyna sees in creating cartoons like this is that they can be used as a vehicle for evangelism. He said Kamila has already talked about Jesus with many of her friends at school, which is located right behind the church. 

Because of his background not only as a music teacher, but in video editing and sound production, Pastor Reyna said he plans to team up with Kamila to make more animations that will continue to utilize a more modern style.

Kamila now has a YouTube channel and is creating content for children of all ages (the channel is called “Kami’s Vlog”). She and her family said they hope God will continue to open doors for them to impact the children in their community with the gospel.

“My desire is that kids know about Jesus and receive Him into their hearts,” Kamila said.

What’s your story? ‘God is making this last part of my life wonderful’

At my church [Cross City North, Trophy Club], I’m known as “Mama Kay.” When I told my pastor, Kent Wells, to call me that, he said, “Well, every church needs a Mama Kay.” So, I’m Mama Kay—all the children know me. Being a greeter at my church and pouring out God’s love on people is the greatest reward I could have.

But I didn’t start out at Cross City’s north campus. I was at the Euless campus [formerly First Baptist Church of Euless] for 27 years. I lived close enough to that location, and I didn’t want to travel any further. My husband had been ill with some strokes for many years. And in that church, I had been part of the choir for eight years and worked in a newborn children’s nursery for some years. I was an outreach leader and an inreach leader—I just thoroughly enjoyed being there. I had a wonderful Sunday school group. And then my husband died in 2017.

I found myself not wanting to go back to church for a while because, for one thing, it was a long drive to make by myself. In bad weather, I wouldn’t do it. I felt so bad about missing church, but it was just a fact of life that I was 80 years old, and that was just a lot for me. After my husband passed away, my granddaughter insisted I come live close to her in Trophy Club, which was a longer commute to Euless. 

After I moved, Pastor John Meador saw a need in this part of the Metroplex for another church. He’d been looking for a place to plant a church, and they looked around my area. I didn’t hear much talk about it because I was just going to Sunday school sometimes and not church. We had a vote on it one Sunday when I was there, and they voted to go ahead and start this campus, Cross City North. And I thought, my goodness, this is going to be in Trophy Club. 

"I feel like I’ve had a reawakening of my spiritual life, of worship, and serving God in a joyful and more meaningful way than I ever thought possible at my age."

Image Courtesy of Cross City North

We were going to be meeting temporarily at Byron Nelson High School, three minutes from my house.  I just said to myself, “Well, God, you saw that I was having a hard time getting to church, and you just sent a church out to me!” And let me tell you, I rejoiced about that. The Sunday after we passed the vote, I stopped the new campus pastor in the hall and I said, “Kent, my name is Kay Meers and I live in Trophy Club, and I’m going to be coming to the new church to see if it’s where I need to be.” His face lit up. And he says, “Well, let me tell you, I can just see your smiling face greeting at the door of our new church.” And so, I went the very first Sunday. There was just something about it. There was an excitement there. I’d never been part of planting a new church before. 

I did go up to him after the sermon, and I said, “Kent, I really have enjoyed it here, but I feel such a loyalty to my Sunday school class back in Euless. We’ve been together for years. We’re all hitting 80 now and there’s deaths and illness, and I just don’t know if I can make the break.” And he says, “Well, Kay, I’ll promise you one thing. If you stay over here with us, we’ll keep you young and happy.” I decided to stay, and it was just so neat to get in the car and go three minutes to church. I didn’t miss a Sunday, I don’t think, for the first year.

But there have been some challenges. I had a little illness and had to lay out for a few Sundays. One time I had to have a heart procedure on a Wednesday and got home from the hospital on Friday, but I was at church on Sunday. My pastor said to the rest of our church, “Kay Meers is here today. No matter what, she was knocked out cold, but she managed to get to church today.”

And then my son died of cancer in August. For about four months, he needed someone to take care of him. I was eager to get to church on Sunday, but I had to miss a few weeks. My daughter goes to another church, but we would trade out. She’d stay one Sunday morning so I could come to church, and I’d stay the next Sunday morning so she could go to church. But we were there with David the whole time, one of us, the whole family. My whole church was so kind to me during that time. 

I feel like I’ve had a reawakening of my spiritual life, of worship, and serving God in a joyful and more meaningful way than I ever thought possible at my age. It’s just been a joy to me—an absolute joy. And I’m so grateful to God for making this last part of my life so wonderful. I’m loved and respected and happy. Even through the death of my husband and the death of my son, God has given me a peace and a comfort that I didn’t know was possible during grieving. He has really been wonderful to me. I know that this was His plan for me and my reward for following His path.

I’m just so happy to see everybody and so eager for them to know the happiness that I know. That’s about all I can say. It’s wonderful and I’m happy. And I sure do thank God. I thank my good Lord for all the blessings He’s given me. I thank Him for my life.

What’s my story? The closer you get to Jesus, the more you can love people!

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REACH TEXAS 2022: Not just hoops, but hope

Editor’s note: The Reach Texas Week of Prayer is Sept. 18-25. This week, the Texan will highlight brief stories of how God is using the Reach Texas offering to impact the kingdom across Texas.

Dexter Laureano has loved the game of basketball his entire life. But when the workload of nursing school began to demand more and more of his time and attention, he had to give up the game to pursue his career.

“It was the saddest moment giving up what I loved so much,” said Laureano, a native Filipino who lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

As he worked to finish his degree over the next three years, Laureano didn’t play basketball and thought he’d lost his passion for the game. But God had a bigger plan to unite Laureano’s passion with a kingdom purpose.

Laureano is the founder of Redeemer Sports, a ministry that uses basketball to share the gospel and disciple those who have decided to trust and believe in Jesus.

“Basketball courts become a refuge for people who are longing for fellowship,” Laureano said. “Basketball becomes a way to cope for spirits who are hurt.”

Before long, relationships that were forged on basketball courts developed into Bible studies and, eventually, led to the planting of Redeemer Community Church. Today, many who attend the church began as people who were reached through the basketball ministry.

Along the way, Laureano credits giving through Reach Texas for what God has done with the ministry. Reach Texas funds have been used to cover many of the costs associated with the basketball ministry, including court rentals, uniforms, equipment, and trophies.

“We have been able to continuously meet with our friends, [make follow-up visits], and know each of [the participants] deeply,” Laureano said. “We are so blessed to be able to partner with Reach Texas. Redeemer Sports can be a vessel to change the culture of secular basketball into a basketball fellowship. We pray and we play.”

SBC should be known for love, firm convictions, Barber says

NASHVILLE (BP)—Southern Baptists need to uphold and support Scriptural truth while maintaining love and cooperation, Southern Baptist Convention President Bart Barber said in addressing the SBC Executive Committee Sept. 19 in Nashville.

“You are just as much a defender of the truth when you argue for cooperation, as you are a defender of the truth when you argue for (Scriptural) purity,” Barber told the EC as it convened for its fall session Sept. 19-20.

Both 2 John and 3 John were his primary texts, focusing on the call to Scriptural truth in the second epistle, and the call to love and cooperation in the third.

“And I want God to make us a family of churches who know how to hold firm convictions about the truth of Scripture, while feeling the obligation to bring everybody that we can who’s in agreement with our statement of faith and with our movement to go and reach the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ, to bring everybody that we can on board into that journey,” he said, “so that together we can fulfill the mandate of both of these books.”

Barber took time to announce the theme and Scripture for the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting set for June 13-14 in New Orleans. “Serving the Lord, Serving Others,” will be the theme, supported by 2 Corinthians 4:5.

“I wanted to have a theme that really just ties together who we are as Southern Baptists,” he said. “And the other thing I love about that theme is that if any community has seen what Southern Baptists are like, serving other people in the name of Jesus, it’s been New Orleans,” he said, referencing Southern Baptist rebuilding efforts after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and in subsequent disasters.

In his first presidential address since his June election, the rural cattle farmer and fulltime pastor of First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Texas, told the EC he discovered the meat of his message while on a mission trip to train pastors in Senegal.

“What happened in that moment in Senegal in that little mud house with those teachers, is that I found the Southern Baptist Convention in the Bible,” he said. “We live in this crack here of the pages between 2 John and 3 John.

“It is good and right that we be vigilant against doctrinal deviation. It is good and right that we be on guard against those who would work evil in the midst of the company of good.

“It is good and right that we be watching for sexual predators who would come into our flocks and destroy the hearts and the bodies and the lives of precious children of God. …

“It’s good and right for us to be on guard against people who are being led not by the truth of God’s Word, but by the convenience of the moment, who are being led not by the inerrant Word of Scripture, but by the fleeting opinions of the day.”

He described both epistles as written in the defense of truth, one focusing on supporting only adherents of God’s Word; the other extolling the church’s faithful love.

“So here’s my mission for me. I want to watch my own heart, my own actions, my own tongue,” Barber said. “I want to be on guard against the moments when I dance over so far into 2 John, that I’ve left 3 John all the way behind. And I want to guard my heart against those times when I’ve wrapped myself up in 3 John so much that I’ve completely wandered away from 2 John.”

Using his own church as an example, Barber said First Farmersville supports the SBC Cooperative Program – the funding mechanism for Southern Baptist cooperative work – in support of work the church intends to be Scripturally sound.

“It is good for us to be on guard against false teachers in the church because there are a lot of things going on in the world that First Baptist Farmersville does not want to be participating in,” he said. “And that’s the message of 2 John, is to say you have to be on guard against this because everything you support you’re participating in.

“And sometimes it’s easy to live in 2 John, but 3 John must be taken into account too.”

Barber proclaimed “a divine obligation” to support the work of those who proclaim the Gospel “in truth and fidelity to the Scriptures.”

“We do not give at First Baptist Farmersville through the Cooperative Program just because we think it’s a nice option,” Barber said. “We give through the Cooperative Program at First Baptist Farmersville because we believe God wills it.”

He encouraged churches to continue to support the work of international missions.

“We believe that the people who have gone to far-flung and dangerous places around the world to share the Gospel have gone out from our church and from churches like ours,” he said. “And if we will not be partners with them in the good work of the Holy Spirit that they have engaged in, who will? If it’s not the responsibility of the churches who are sending them, whose responsibility is it?”

This article originally appeared on Baptist Press.

Candidates’ views on handling sexual abuse will be factor, Nominations Committee chair says

NASHVILLE (BP)—The chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention Committee on Nominations wants his group to do its part to ensure board members of Southern Baptist entities reflect the Convention’s stance on addressing sexual abuse.

“The last three conventions (annual meetings) have spoken clearly about our desire to root out any type of hiding or concealing in regards of abuse,” Michael Criner, committee chair and lead pastor of Rock Hill Baptist Church in East Brownsboro, Texas, told Baptist Press this morning. “I felt like, as chairman, that we need to be very intentional in regard to those we propose to be elected to these trustee boards that they be just as consistent with how the Convention has spoken.”

Criner reminded Committee on Nominations members of that recent history in an Aug. 30 email.

“I dare say that the stakes before us are higher than ever, and our churches expect that our Committee will conform to the present convention’s determination to root this out and deal definitively with this matter,” he wrote. “… We will countenance no exception, and we will implement a rigorous vetting process to ensure eligible nominees are aligned with our convention’s resolve.”

The Committee on Nominations is tasked each year with identifying two nominees – one a layperson – from each qualifying state or regional Baptist convention to fill vacancies on Southern Baptist boards, institutions, standing committees and the Executive Committee. Those names are then presented at the next SBC annual meeting.

Taking a long-term perspective is necessary in order “to help the SBC become more transparent and healthy in regards to [addressing] sexual abuse,” Criner told BP. That includes all levels of involvement among Southern Baptists both in local and national leadership.

“The local church has to take ownership of what they’re doing,” he said. “For our part, we want people who are supportive of our efforts to ensure we’re caring for survivors and protecting our church members. There’s a theological piece to all that.

“We don’t want antagonistic mentalities towards addressing the value of the individual, the human life.”

That reflects what he has heard as a pastor.

“People don’t want to be associated with a network of churches that are known or accused of being known to cover sexual abuse up. My church members are saying, ‘Whatever we have to do to do the right thing, let’s do that.’”

Criner, who previously served as a member of the 2019 SBC Committee on Committees, added that evaluating candidates will have many facets, including anything that may be reported by the newly-formed Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force.

At the 2021 Southern Baptists of Texas annual meeting, Criner presented a motion for the formation of a sexual abuse advisory committee in that state. The motion passed, with Criner becoming a member of that committee.

That group will present its report at the SBTC gathering in November.

This article originally appeared on Baptist Press.

REACH TEXAS 2022: ‘Then God’s people just showed up’

Editor’s note: The Reach Texas Week of Prayer is Sept. 18-25. This week, the Texan will highlight brief stories of how God is using the Reach Texas offering to impact the kingdom across Texas.

Matthew Chouest, pastor of Golden Meadow Baptist Church, grew up in Golden Meadow and had never evacuated when hurricanes threatened. But Hurricane Ida, which pummeled western Louisiana in 2021, was different.

As the storm approached, he and his family and many church members sought shelter about 200 miles away in Eunice, La. They evacuated on a Sunday and returned three days later.

“I got back and couldn’t believe my eyes. Everything was changed. I didn’t know when we could even start doing recovery,” the pastor said.

The storm devastated the community. The church did not escape as its brick veneer back wall collapsed into the sanctuary, destroying the baptistry area and ruining the three-week-old roof that had finally replaced the one damaged by Hurricane Laura the year before. The church gym was spared and became a massive distribution center for food, clothing, water, and supplies for Golden Meadow and nearby Galliano.

About three weeks after the hurricane, when the waters had receded enough to make recovery efforts feasible, Chouest received a call from SBTC Disaster Relief asking if his church and community were interested in help with mud-out and recovery efforts.

“We were distraught,” Chouest said. “Then God’s people just showed up. SBTC DR were the first ones to show up.”

SBTC DR and other Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers stayed in the area for 60 days, working with resources that were generously given through the Reach Texas offering. Among many projects, they helped make the parsonage livable by removing soggy sheetrock, spraying anti-mold treatment, replacing the roof, and even pulling up, drying, and reinstalling the vinyl flooring.

The work on his home enabled Chouest, who had been staying in the “dry half of the house,” to continue ministering to the community he loves and providing hope—the same kind of hope DR volunteers had provided to him.

Father, son share special moments on SBTC Israel trip

In July, 128 pastors and their wives traveled to Israel with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. The trip was planned to encourage SBTC pastors, strengthen their preaching by helping them experience the places where Jesus focused His ministry, and provide a venue for them to worship and fellowship together.

Among this group of pastors was a father and son: Kyle Clayton, senior pastor of The Church at Quail Creek in Amarillo, and his father, Rex—a retired pastor.

“When I found out about the SBTC’s trip to Israel, I jumped on it,” Kyle said. “Giving me the opportunity to bring my wife (April) to Israel made the trip more exciting, and the fact that later on mom and dad were able to also come, as well, made it even better.”

Rex said he had planned to go to Israel with a church, but that trip filled up so quick he was not able to sign up. When the SBTC announced its trip, he said he quickly signed up to go.

“I am blessed to have walked where Jesus walked with my only son, Kyle,” Rex said. “Being in Israel makes the Bible so much more real, and being able to talk to Kyle about it was a wonderful experience.”

Rex has been married to his wife, Karen, for 49 years and they also have a daughter, Kandra, who is five years older that Kyle. He served during the war as a chaplain assistant, then earned an accountant degree from The University of Texas and began serving his local church. “I started to teach Sunday school at my church with no members,” he said with a smile, “and then we went out and decided to go and get them.

“God blessed our efforts, and by teaching this class, God confirmed to us that we should be in full-time ministry. We answered the call and went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where I got a Master of Divinity.” He was an associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Burleson and also pastored in Alvarado while going to seminary.

After his graduation, Rex pastored First Baptist Church of Sundown near Odessa, where Kyle met his bride, April.

At the age of 69, Rex retired from Calvary Baptist Church in Tishomingo, Okla., after serving there for 17 years. “I have been blessed by Rex pastoring all of these years, and I told him, when you retire, I want to go and hear Kyle preach at Quail Creek. We went many times to visit him, and we fell in love and felt loved by the church immediately. Rex is a great pastor and preacher, and I also think that Kyle is, too,” Karen said.

Kyle calls himself a “Jesus follower, husband, dad, and preacher man.” He has been married to April for 20 years and they have two children: Mackenzie, 16, and Nolan, 15. He has a master’s degree from Slidell Baptist Seminary in Louisiana. He has been serving Quail Creek for 13 years.

April, Kyle’s wife, said she was also blessed to be in Israel. She was able to experience some of the way women are required to travel around the cities and the oppression in which women without Jesus as Lord have to endure in certain sectors of society. In some areas, she noticed women were not able to show their elbows, show their knees, or speak.

She was also able to appreciate all the ancient pieces of art, sculptures, and designs around her. April is an art teacher at San Jacinto Christian Academy, a Christian school that was started by Quail Creek in 1982.

“It’s a blessing to work at a school our church founded,” she said. “I not only work full-time, but I serve our church in the women’s ministry and as a small group leader in our student ministry.”

As a group of travelers, all the pastors, wives, and SBTC leaders shared a time of worship at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem and participated in the Lord’s Supper.

“My favorite thing to do for our church is make the Lord’s Supper bread,” April said. “I pray over it as I make it, as well as each member who takes it. I don’t take making it lightly. It’s an honor to do it for our church in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice. I started this tradition when my mother-in-law, Karen, passed the tradition down to me. During COVID, we were able to share the recipe with our congregation so we could all participate in the Lord’s Supper together in our own homes for Easter.”

The whole family celebrated the occasion of traveling to Israel together by having a symbolic baptism in the Jordan River performed by Bruno Molina, SBTC language and interfaith evangelism associate.

SBTC church plant perseveres after equipment trailer stolen

WEST COLUMBIA   The first Sunday of September brought a challenge—and an opportunity to overcome adversity—for West Oaks Church, an SBTC church plant. 

On Friday, August 30, church leaders realized one of the church’s equipment trailers had been stolen. Inside the stolen trailer were various signs and sound equipment, a television, printers, and children’s check-in stands—all valued at around $8,000-$9,000 dollars, according to Pastor Colby Wallace. 

Despite the theft, the church stepped up—with a little help from other nearby churches and others who loaned tables, mic stands, and other equipment to help West Oaks Church get through the weekend. After hustling to replace or find other ways to perform the functions of the church that Sunday, Wallace said he was pleased to see a larger-than-expected number of attendees and visitors show up for the holiday weekend service.

“We adjusted pretty well, and our staff and our people stepped up and we made it work,” Wallace said. “In spite of what happened, everything went very smooth and it was very encouraging to see the support we had.”

How parents can engage local public schools

Should parents be able to dictate what schools teach their children? Should schools be able to hide information about a student from their parents? What rights and responsibilities do parents have when it comes to engaging the public schools in their area? These are not new questions for Christian parents, but the frequency with which they are being asked seems to have grown significantly in recent years.

Three years ago, our family moved to a new ministry assignment in a familiar location. We moved to my wife’s hometown to work at our alma mater, but nearly 20 years had passed since either one of us had lived there. We weren’t the same people moving back either. When we left, we both had just earned college degrees and had not yet married. When we arrived back two decades later, we had married, lived in two other states, and had four children—all of whom were about to enroll in a different school for the first time. What lay before us was the monumental responsibility of choosing what the next stage of our children’s education would look like.

We are not alone in making these types of decisions. And our choice to enroll our children in the local public school system (a first for us) did not come without some fear in light of the unknown. For us the decision has been a good one. Our children have benefited from excellent academic and extracurricular opportunities. In addition, they have learned what it looks like to live out their faith in a environment that is not exclusively Christian. Even with these benefits, the most important part of our decision is that it came with intentional choices on our part to be involved parents.

So how should we exercise our rights as parents and engage our local school systems without burning bridges to these core institutions in our communities? Let me share a few lessons we have learned in the last three years as we have engaged a new school system.

Get to know your school’s leaders

When we moved back to my wife’s hometown, there was a sense that we would know everyone. In fact, our kids constantly rolled their eyes as we would walk into the grocery store or a local restaurant and run into people that we knew from college or that my wife knew from growing up. But we also quickly realized that so much had changed. From the beginning, we made an effort to get to know leaders at every level of our schools. I had a phone call with the varsity girls’ soccer coach within days of moving here. We went to “meet the teacher” events. We eventually got to know the administrators at the various schools in town and even built relationships with some of the school board members. Today, if I had a concern with something at one of our schools, there is a teacher, a principal, a coach, or a school board member that I can call because I have a relationship with them.

Ask questions

This can happen at any level of the school system. I’ve asked questions of teachers, coaches, office personnel, principals, and school board members. Sometimes I get responses right away. Sometimes they say they need to get back with me. Because I have built relationships with them (see #1), I am confident they will reply with honest answers. These relationships mean that I have built a trust with them and they with me, so that these questions are received in good faith, not as hostile or accusatory, but aimed at what is best for my children.

Be constructive in your criticism

At the beginning of this semester one of our children brought home a form to be signed that listed potential books that would be read in class for the year. In reviewing the list with my wife, we came to the conclusion that a couple were not our preference, but one was certainly problematic. Rather than firing off a critical email to the teacher and talking about how this teacher could be corrupting the children in the classroom, my wife sent an email expressing our concern with the book in question and offering a few alternative options for our child that could stand in place of that particular book. The next day she received a kind response explaining that the teacher had decided not to assign that book to the class and that they would be reading something else that did not undermine our convictions. The teacher even thanked my wife for expressing her concern.

Stand up for your children

The previous three lessons all point to this one as the culmination. Building relationships, asking questions, and constructive criticism all serve the purpose of standing up for your children. There is a time and place for various actions to meet this goal. This can mean making a public statement in a school board meeting. It could involve scheduling a meeting with a teacher. It could even reach the point of changing the educational option for your children. At the end of the day, these are your children whom God has entrusted into your care.

As we are experiencing with a senior in high school this year, we only have our children under our roof for a limited time before we launch them out as arrows into the world (Psalm 127:4). What they likely encounter in their schools and our neighborhoods and what they will face in the world requires that we diligently and prayerfully disciple and equip them with a biblical worldview to the best of our ability. We owe it to them and to our communities, and ultimately to the Lord, to engage the process of their education. And we can do so in such a way that prepares them for a life of worship — loving God and loving our neighbors — and demonstrates a healthy and biblical civic engagement at the same time.

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