What is God’s Heart for Education in our City?
Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
Praying for Shalom in Our Schools
When you think of the word “education”, what comes to your mind? Kids might think of recess, homework and friends. For parents, maybe success, jobs or opportunity.
Opportunity. Education can play a significant role in one’s life and open doors to a wide range of opportunities. High school graduates have an avenue to pursue a college education, which can lead to further opportunities in their careers, while those who do not graduate from high school are twice as likely to live in poverty with limited resources. Today, we are blessed to live in a country where K-12 education is free and accessible to all children. We can celebrate our hard-working teachers, the general quality of education and activities that many students have access to and can engage in in our communities.
However, we must also acknowledge and lament the lack of opportunity, brokenness and persistent inequities we see in the education sector in our cities. We have schools with many families living below the poverty line, students facing homelessness, students being bullied regularly and an academic achievement gap that exists between white students and students of color. Racial segregation of neighborhoods and neighborhood schools exists across school districts, accompanied by the gross imbalance of resources tied to the social-economic levels of neighborhoods. This is not God’s heart and vision for the community. So as followers of Christ, what is our call when we reflect on the area of education in our city?
Schools are not merely institutions for learning but are the “center of community,” a place that can draw people of different races and socio-economic backgrounds to come together to celebrate our kids’ achievements. Jesus commands that you “love your neighbor as yourself.” Schools are an opportune place for a parent, a teacher, even a church body to come into contact with and begin to see them as neighbors and love them. Education can be an excellent opportunity for us as believers to practice one of God’s greatest commandments. God also calls us to feed the hungry, provide the poor with clothing and shelter and to loosen the chains of injustice. We can do this by providing food items and warm coats to families through the social worker or mentoring and tutoring a student once a week at school. There are countless ways that we can obey God’s commands and be His salt and light in our neighborhood.
As we start a new year, pray to God regarding how He may want you and your church to actively engage with a school where God’s shalom struggles to be seen. An amazing opportunity awaits you.
Lord we come to you with prayers for our educational system:
Pray for the principal(s) and teachers of your neighborhood school or a high-needs school in your community. Pray that God will give them wisdom and energy in leading and teaching their students.
Pray for the family support workers and counselors who regularly come into contact with students and families who are living in poverty or may be experiencing challenging situations.
Pray for how you can personally engage in a school in your community. Start a prayer group with other parents to pray for the school, volunteer at the school and join the PTA, ask God to lead you to specific families to build a relationship with.
Pray for your church to form a partnership with a school that may be under-resourced. Talk with the family support worker regarding the school’s needs, provide an appreciation lunch for the teachers, organize a service a day to help teachers clean their classrooms.
Pray that schools would be culturally inclusive and break the cycle of segregation and inequity. Pray that all students can learn and thrive in a positive and emotionally healthy environment.
– Reiko Aramaki