May 15, 2003

Train Up a Child
by Donald G. Mashburn

Sometimes, you find hope, and get your faith in the future boosted, in some unlikely places. The name of the city, Bethany (“house of poverty”), didn’t do much for my expectations. Then there was that huge tornado-spawning storm to the west, tracking toward Oklahoma City, with Bethany (Okla.) smack dab in the center of the projected path.

Either way, I expected nothing special from The Class of 2003 Oklahoma Home School Commencement Exercises. That changed when class chaplain – yes, the class elected a chaplain – Miss Kyndall Rothaus, spoke of how we’re often told to “let God be part of our lives.” Then she hit us with the real truth: God wants to be, “not a part of our lives, but all of our lives.”

This attractive high school senior reminding us that God wants to be all of our lives! This graduation exercise was different; I started taking notes. I hope her classmates picked up on the message of hope that Kyndall’s inspiring words carried.

This world-beaten traveler got it. Having photographed and written of people and places on seven continents, I’m always watchful for anything that smacks of hope. For hope is something this messed-up world doesn’t have enough of!

In Bethany that night, hope abounded. In the testimonies, in plans for college, including Air Force Academy, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and service as missionaries. But topping their list was “pleasing God.” I was proud that my fine 6-foot-five specimen of a grandson, Jonas Bergman, was among them.

I had expected a smalltime event in a smalltime town, but I quickly wrote: “Of all that’s wrong in this world, this class will never be part of it. And of all the things right in this world, these students and their parents are among them.”

These seniors have their heads on straight. Class president, Chad Khoury, told students “He who would be a leader must be willing to turn his back on the crowd.” Student speaker Jennifer Moore kept the inspirational tone with a fine commentary, ending by saying that “without God you’re nothing.”

District Attorney for Oklahoma County, Wes Lane, was keynote speaker. Lane told the class how God had to get him out of rebellion earlier in life before he could begin to receive the blessings God had for him.

Repeating what God told Joshua, Lane urged students to meditate in God’s word, “That you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Lane reminded the students, “We have no other purpose on this planet other than the glory of God.” Try saying that at a public school auditorium or over a loudspeaker at a football game.

One would think educators and liberal politicians would welcome a system that produces graduates like those who inspired me in Bethany. But this kind of education is opposed by union leaders of teachers unions, the ACLU, and assorted atheists and organizations who oppose religion. All enabled by liberal courts.

Of course, many students in public schools do have high, God-centered values, for they come from homes where God is welcomed. And many of them courageously witness to their Christianity. But speaking those beliefs at commencement exercises might cause an earthquake from the knee jerks of liberal activists and school administrators.

And if they had heard the Home School Class of 2003 talk of “serving God” in their future endeavors, they might’ve had a conniption fit.

Our society pays a terrible price because parents and teachers have, in short decades, forgotten the golden rule of educating children: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).