Monday, April 2, 2007

Mission Field: Home

Earlier today I sat down here to write about what Christian homeschooling means to me, especially in light of knowing someday I'll have to send these kids out into a world hostile to the gospel of Christ.

I was almost done with the post, when the power went out and I lost the whole thing. While always frustrating at first, it turns out that it's a blessing as it gives me more time to recompose.

The other day I received an email asking me why or if, I considered my home a mission field. I found that question intriguing since I've said for years that I do indeed consider my own home, my mission field. I have not been called by God to serve over seas, or even to serve outside the home to any great degree. I have however been blessed with seven children. To me it seems rather obvious where my priorities lie.

Interestingly enough, the same day that email question came in, one of the kids mentioned something about the way the "real" world is, in comparison to how the Christian worldview is. I love it when one of these comments come, because it's an opening to see what they really think, how much they really know, how much they really grasp what it is we try so hard to impart in them.

I don't know when I started using larger than life analogies with the kids, but it's been a long time now, and they seem to work quite well to paint a picture that they'll understand with bigger implications. I did the same thing the other day during this conversation, and I used their brother Samuel as my example.

Let's pretend, for example, Samuel grows up and decides he wants to join the army. One day he marches straight into the recruitment office and says "sign me up". They sign him up, hand him a weapon and give him directions to the nearest battlefield. What? You mean it doesn't work like that?

I explained to the kids what boot camp is. They all cringed at how grueling it all sounded, but understood that before anyone would ever expect Samuel to understand the way a real battle works, a real weapon works, and how to think on his feet and defend himself & fellow soldiers, and understand how chain of authority works, that he'd have to undergo intensive training. Then and only then would anyone have any real expectation for Samuel to be successful in a real battle situation.

Scripture defines our life in this world, in very much the same way. It indeed does use wartime language to define the way we engage in life, in this life. I've always found that interesting how Scripture does this but we tend to shy away from it and paint the Christian life with such fluff & feelgoodies, that we seem to miss the meat of a Christian life.

For me, this is what Christian homeschooling is all about. It's laying a solid, Christ-centered foundation, not only academically but with ample amounts of time each day to have the very kinds of discussions I mentioned earlier in this post. Doing this certainly doesn't guarantee they'll be any more successful on the world's battlefield than a soldier in war is, even with adequate training. But it does give them proper training in how to deal with life, how to use their weapon (the Bible) effectively, and how to see the world from a Biblical lense. It equips them in a way that time spent public schools simply cannot do, no matter the solid foundation at home.

I've been on both sides of the public/homeschool issue, and I know first hand that when your kids are in public school how much less time you really do have as their parents, to spend with them on these very important matters. I never realized just how much less time you have with them, until I began to homeschool, seven years ago. Homeschooling is probably the most demanding thing I've ever done in my life, but if I had to do it all over again, all of them would have been educated this way, from day one.

One day I'll have to send them out there. Two of them have already left boot camp and they're already in the "real" world. I can only pray and hope that the intense training they've experienced here at Camp Rolfe, will give them the right tools to be successful out there.

Indeed for me, this is my mission field, boot camp, home & classroom all rolled into one. It's a high calling to be sure, and by His grace our trainees will be well equipped when it's time to go out on their own.