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The safest place for children to be is at home with loving parents. As it stands, well over 90 percent of all parents send their children away from them for over 10,800 seat hours K-12 to be instructed by people they barely know. Fifty-eight percent of all working parents send their preschoolers to daycare where they are watched all day by people they barely know. As has been reported, sexual abuse of children in daycares and government schools is rampant!
However, we realize we live in a fallen world and not every family feels they have the luxury of living on one income and homeschooling their own children. For those who desire to do so, I have provided a practical roadmap in my book, Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask, to show parents that it can be done. In fact, my own mother (who dropped out of high school in 9th grade) successfully homeschooled my five sisters and myself in the 1970s and ‘80s before it was even legal. So I know that “where there is a will, there is a way.”
But rather than merely calling people to an ideal, sometimes we need to help provide a pathway for them. Let me share a couple inspirational stories that may provide some food-for-thought that others can implement to help those who aren’t as far along on the journey towards taking full responsibility for the upbringing of their own children.
A Detroit Pastor with a Vision
For many years a friend of mine, a Baptist pastor in Detroit, successfully ran a daycare as an outreach of his church. They excluded members of their church from using it, teaching them it was their job to raise their own children. But this pastor and his staff were concerned about the rampant sexual abuse of children that frequently takes place in such institutions, and they wanted an alternative where children would be truly safe.
They pretty much exclusively reached non-Christians who were low-income parents and many immigrants who barely spoke English. The parents had to sign a contract stating they knew the children would be taught the Bible and taught about Jesus (even the Muslim children).
Dr. Gary Elfner (the pastor) also had a Christian day school for K-12 and an umbrella program for homeschoolers. He would tell the parents every day when they would drop their children off at daycare, “It’s not our job to raise your children; it’s your job. We just want them to have a safe place to be until you figure out a plan to raise them yourself.”
When the children became school age, they found corporations and members of the church willing to pay for scholarships for children who were going to government schools to have a safer option in the Christian school. But everyday Dr. Elfner would tell the parents as they dropped off their children, “it isn’t our job to educate your child. It’s your job. We just want them to be safe until you find a way to do that. And when you are ready, we will teach you how to homeschool and we’ll help you through our homeschool program.”
This pastor discipled his own congregation to homeschool their own kids and take responsibility for them, but he also wanted to provide a safe haven for inner city children who were being abandoned to the State. He shared the gospel with the parents they served and even had parenting seminars to teach them what good parenting looks like. He was a great man of God who truly understood that we as Christians can’t be part of the solution if we are a part of the problem. He always said his goal was to eventually work himself out of a job because he hoped the parents he worked with would eventually become Christians and disciple their own children.
A Nashville Mom with Compassion
Another great story is of a homeschooling mom I know in Nashville, TN. She raised one son who grew up and moved away from home leaving his mom, now an empty-nester, with an open future for her own life. Her husband was still working, and they didn’t need a second income, so she prayed about what God would have her do with her time.
At that time, a young lady in their small church became pregnant even though she wasn’t married. She was probably still in her late teens, but she decided to give the baby life instead of choosing an abortion as so many others have. As a teen mom, she desired to provide for her son and give him the best future she could. She found a standard job making a standard income working from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm each day. My friend felt God tugging on her heart. She knew how traumatized children could often be in institutional day cares where they are often harmed by other children, ignored by overwhelmed staff, and sometimes sexually abused by those entrusted with their care.
So, she approached the young mother and asked if she would be open to letting her son stay with her each day when she went to work. The young lady had grown to know and trust this godly, older Christian woman and agreed. So, five days a week, my friend ended up sharing Christ’s love with this young child who literally grew up more in her house than his own mother’s. It wasn’t perfect, but it was so much better than a standard daycare facility. He always had one-on-one care.
When the boy reached compulsory attendance age, the mother enrolled him in a local Christian school that would allow distance learning, and my friend took on the responsibility of “homeschooling” him as well.
The bond between these two women is so strong and the love displayed among the three is so precious. My friend is careful to not replace the mother. She always respects the mother’s wishes and points the boy back to his mom. “You’ll need to ask your mother if she is okay with you doing that.” It’s such an amazing thing to watch what happens when real people get involved in real lives and decide to “love one more” (as my former pastor is fond of saying). Rather than expecting the government to take care of “people like that,” maybe we should pray and ask God what He would have us do. Societal problems are not solved by government programs. If anything, they usually make the problem worse. Real change comes about when people care. And no amount of tax money will ever substitute for people who care.