Wednesday, March 04, 2009

God in the Classroom

This is an account of my efforts to put into action what I learn while reading the Bible, an account of my journey to become closer to God.

I remember saying the Lord's Prayer or Psalm 23 each morning when I was in elementary school. That was years ago, before God was removed from the classroom of our public schools. I've often wondered where we would be today if that had never happened, if God were still in our classrooms and children heard the Word each morning, even if only a little of it.

Last Friday morning I had an opportunity to discuss God over a cup of coffee and a muffin. Not with my usual companions, men and women my age, but with a number of students from Norcross High School. I arrived early at the popular breakfast spot to chat with Lee Jones, Director of the Norcross Christian Learning Center.

The Norcross Christian Learning Center provides an off-campus, Christian-based elective class to Norcross High School. The class is taken for credit and is based on the concept of Released Time education, which permits students to be released from campus for approved instruction. The courses offered are “Comparative Religions” in the fall and “The Life and Teachings of Jesus” in the spring. The classes provide students with a safe and engaging environment to explore the claims of Christ and the Christian worldview. The program began at Norcross High School in 2004, and depending on student demand, offers a class as many as three times a day.

Lee, who holds a seminary degree, had only recently arrived to metro Atlanta when he heard about the newly formed Norcross Christian Learning Center. Searching for a ministry home and believing that teaching was one of his gifts, he joined the Learning Center even though he had never imagined himself working in a high school.

“It has turned out to be an amazing experience,” he explained. “It has taught me to trust that God is always at work. There are challenges in every class, ranging from the logistics, funding, the students themselves, but every time God delivers; I’ve seen Him at work in theses kids’ lives. If not for our classes, many of our students, some of whom come from very unfavorable environments, would have never heard the Gospel.”

And as it turns out, many of the students probably would not have crossed paths with each other if not for their enrollment in the class. Coming from different socioeconomic, cultural and religious backgrounds, they previously had little to no reason to cross paths with each other. “In addition to bringing the Gospel to them, one of the most rewarding things about this ministry,” Lee said, “is watching the students connect with one another. They become friends.”

While the school makes the class offering possible for its students, it, due to restrictions enforced by federal law, does little else to support the Learning Center. “We use a bus loaned to us by one church to transport the students to another church which allows us to use space for a classroom,” Lee explained. “Although the logistics can be challenging, it gives us the freedom to teach Christianity in an unencumbered way. And it bears fruit. One student in particular come into our class as a non-believer, but after learning about Christ she accepted Him as her savior. Today she is in college, has a heart for discipleship and mentoring of young girls, and is now herself telling others about the Gospel. She is the best example of why this program exists.”

Tune in tomorrow for the rest of the story!

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and please pray for me and my family. Now go out and hug somebody!

1 comment:

Ginny said...

Ahh...a cliff hanger!