Dear Church, God’s Children Need More
As a Christian and an educator in New Orleans Public Schools, I recognize the need for God’s children to have backpacks and school supplies, but we may be limiting the way we see God’s power manifested to transform our world.
God’s children need more; they need the grace and courtesy to walk with them and not just do for them.
In Micah 6:8 the author talks about what God has shown us and what He expects.
“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good;
and what doth the LORD require of thee,
but to do justly,
and to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with thy God?”
Micah 6:8 KJV
In The Message Bible translation:
“But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously-
take God seriously.”
Micah 6:8 The Message
God requires us to do what is morally right. We should be generous and considerate toward others. This is an essential and distinctive quality we receive from God. We should also be modest about our position when serving others.
The church should be set apart in the way we communicate and serve those around us. We should not be conveniently consumed by assumptions that if we provide resources to fill up backpacks with pencils, binders, and paper that we have demonstrated the effective hands and feet of Jesus.
Our good intentions masked as biblical generosity are contributing to a system that devalues and dehumanizes some families’ abilities to support themselves and meet the needs of their students. Do we get gratification for checking this “Act of Kindness” off our list? Is this feel-good ministry what God is calling us to? Churches are following in the footsteps of nonprofits that give away things that are almost never used to support students towards success at school or in life.
God gave the mandate for the church to be effective and humble in the way we serve Him and others. Churches should be creating effective partnerships with schools. Churches should become a resource to local schools. They should build relationships with schools to bridge the gap for the resources needed to operate schools.
The simple fact is that school leaders and teachers cannot focus on students’ needs if they do not have enough people or time to get things done. In addition to stuffing backpacks, schools and students need people to volunteer to read, to teach, to prep materials and to encourage students. Encouragement and an extra engaged person can make a world of difference for a teacher meeting the needs of 20 plus students.
Schools are powerful tools that God uses to help His children learn the ability to read and write. Learning to read and comprehend help people to access His Word and to know about Him for themselves. No matter your opinion on public education, it is the global churches’ responsibility to carry this burden because God has placed many of His children to serve in public schools. We can join joyfully in His labor and the work that the church is doing. Collaborating with schools will take some sacrifice, but when the more churches get involved, we will see more schools transformed.
Here is how we can join in-
- Don’t be ignorant- Don’t feed into the generalizations, myths, and stereotypes that deeply divide students, teacher, and schools. Don’t be indifferent and culturally isolate yourself from the needs of the community around you.
- We can help! – Partner with a family or a public school and build a relationship. Learn their needs by giving them your time. Sacrifice some time to pray, to read, to meet and learn about the people connected to the school. Be appreciative and teachable in how you learn and serve the people in your community.
- Spend time! More than stuffing backpacks, schools need your time to support students. Reading hours, teacher helpers, and encouraging notes are a few easy ways to support schools.
There is power together! When we serve together, it sends a clear message of our agreement in God’s word, power and presence.
If the church joins in supporting the schools and teachers, we can remove some of the stress of educating students by providing tangible resources, helping with mentorship and being encouraging. When these basic needs are met, teachers can then focus on the students’ individual needs. Challenging behaviors will become teachable moments that will have different life impact. Each student will be set apart in the way he/she communicates and serves. By the way people serve others, they will experience the Power, Hope, and Love of Jesus!
Carla Briggs is an educator at Audubon Gentilly Charter School in New Orleans, Louisiana, a chef and loves students. She helps to develop students skills, train teachers and assist parents as the Creator and Founder of Eat Your Words Learning Tools, an innovative way to teach children to read while playing with food. Carla is passionate about creating equality in education and food literacy. Above all, Carla is a reconciler. You can learn more about Carla and Eat Your Words Learning Tools here.
Book Resources: Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can–and Should–Do to Improve Public Education for Low-Income Kids by Nicole Baker Fulgham
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