They Also Minister Who…Teach in Public Schools

Phyllis Nissila

(NOTE:What prompted this entry is an e-mail I received from a friend about a group of Christians in Washington, D.C.–even there–who have been making quite a difference for the Lord. I decided to add more encouragement on the return e-mail about inroads Christians make every day in another “field” people sometimes write off as lost to the Gospel: public education. I pray this will encourage you.)

I teach in a community college and elsewhere. I teach writing, study skills and college and career preparatory classes. I love my colleagues and my job, but it is very true that there are fewer and fewer representations of our Judeo-Christian heritage evident on the campus at large.

There is, however, a thriving, dedicated sub-culture of born again, Bible-believing Christians ever on the lookout for ways and means to speak about and illustrate the reality and love of Jesus Christ even in, yes, the “halls of higher education” which many have written off as lost to the Gospel.

Please know and be encouraged that your “brothers and sisters” in this corner of our darkening world are as active and alert for Jesus as people are in more “Gospel friendly,” so to speak, places. And we are greatly blessed, in turn, by students who stand up for Christ in their own ways in this tough “market”.

Individually and sometimes together in between classes and committee meetings and paperwork, Christians on my campus (and all campuses, you can be sure) pray over our students and colleagues and over how to respond with wisdom and grace to the modern version of the age-old, same-old anti-Christ spirit.

Nowadays, this spirit may be wrapped in smooth sounding rhetoric about certain aspects of multi-culturalism; it may be embedded in curricula that pay homage to the theory of evolution and to other philosophies of the day; it may be loud and shrill in rants against a stereotyped version of a Christian that no real Christian even recognizes.

And yet, the Holy Spirit, ever present and precise, imparts to those attuned to His voice a word, a prayer, an idea, a lesson plan that quietly, deftly overrides the will of evil if at least for one moment of time but a moment that may separate light from darkness for one student or co-worker or committee.

We hope that the church at large is encouraged by this reality and that you will continue to pray for us “laborers in the field of higher education” and for your family members in our arena of influence and care. We are many.

I often think of the words of Betsy ten Boom, the older sister of Corrie ten Boom of the famed Hiding Place story. As Betsy lay dying in a Nazi concentration camp, she told her sister, in effect, “Tell them that there is no hole so deep that Jesus is not deeper.” Although our situation on campus, and yours in your home and/or workplace may not be as dramatic or as lethal, it is where we are. It is where we believe, even as you do, God “assigned” us to extend His love and His saving message. “Greater is He in us than he who is in the world” in the arena of public education, too.

We need each other.

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