Monday, August 24, 2015

Praying for Our Teachers

(submitted by Kerry Patton)
“I run to you, Lord, for protection.  Don’t disappoint me.  You do what is right, so come to my rescue. Listen to my prayer and keep me safe. Be my mighty rock, the place where I can always run for protection. Save me by your command! You are my mighty rock and my fortress.” Psalm 71:1-3

Come on, it’s just teaching!
What is the life of a teacher?  How hard could it be, right?  I mean, you work only nine months of the year; you’re off by 3:30, and you get all of the holidays AND your summers off.  Easy-peasy.

Well, it would be nice if that were true…

It’s easy to have a very na├»ve picture of what the life of a school teacher entails.  My mother, Carolyn Patton raised four kids, and then went back to college to become a school teacher.  Ultimately, she was hired by a rural school district and served teaching pre-K and kindergarten.  She found teaching to be very rewarding and considered it to be ministry in the purest sense of the word.  She loved, prayed for, and cared deeply for the kids she taught.  It was also at times, extremely taxing emotionally, very frustrating, and sometimes…dangerous work.

Certainly not all of the kids, but many of them came from some very impoverished and troubled families.  One year, her class included a couple of boys…twins who were receiving special assistance from the government and state to help with the expenses of attending school.  Continued participation in this program required getting the parents to fill out and sign a relatively simple form. But after repeated attempts, there was no success.  Mother had sent notes home with the children, but had not gotten a signature.  The boys were in danger of losing the assistance.
 
Determined to get the paper signed before the deadline passed, Mother decided to make a visit to the family home.  Her teaching assistant, or Aid, knew this family, and knew that the father/husband was a very troubled and dangerous individual.  She suggested that Mother had no business going out to that part of town as it was very dangerous, but my mom was not to be deterred.  She and the aid went to the family address, but found the family did not live there any longer.  A neighbor indicated that the family had moved one block over.  So, on they went to the next address.
 
Upon arriving, Mother stepped up and knocked on the door…a storm door (the inner door was wide opened).  The aid stood close, but behind my mom.  She was quite frightened.

Hearing the knock on the storm door, a small child came up to the door and walked away.  Voices could be heard from inside, questioning loudly who these white people were at the front door.  A young woman came cautiously to the door and inquired what Mother and her aid wanted.  Mother expressed that she was from the school, and that she had to have this paper signed, adding that it was vital to keeping the woman’s boys in the assistance program.

The woman turned back toward the interior of the home and demanded a ball point pen from the interior of the home.  Shortly, a child arrived by her side handing her what she had requested.  The woman quickly signed her name, thanked my mother and the aid, and without further comment or conversation, immediately closed both of the doors.  Mother recalls feeling like the encounter had gone well, but her aid had seen a profile inside the home.  She had seen that the husband was inside…and knew that he was a very dangerous man. 

Upon returning to the school, other teachers learned of this encounter and encouraged my mother to never return to that neighborhood again…it was simply too dangerous.  A few days after this encounter, the father was arrested and taken to jail for serious crimes.
 
My mother is now retired, and marvels at the reality that those twin boys have grown up and are in their early twenties.  She recalls with lingering agony the young children who came from such troubled homes; the inattentive or altogether absent parents that were frequently a part of the picture, and tells tales of the extended measures she and other teachers would go to periodically to make certain that children got every chance possible to learn and succeed.

Let me ask you something:  Are you praying for teachers?  Are you aware that the culture they teach in today is in so many ways different from the culture and environment that you and I grew up in?  Are you praying for teachers’ protection…for the safety of the students, and for the presence of Christ Jesus to be powerfully present in our public and private schools?

We have a ministry at NSBC called “The Teacher’s Prayer Initiative”.  I ask that you prayerfully consider participation in this ministry as a part of your daily routine.  Teachers, students, and other faculty need our prayers every day.  Protection, effective learning, health, wisdom, and a hundred other things…they need us to pray for them…daily.  Pray for our Schools.  Won’t you?  I thank you if you will.

Prayer

Almighty God, we pray for the Ambassadors we know as Teachers.  Not every day is filled with danger, but every day is filled with needs…needs of the teachers, or students.  We ask your peace to rein over our schools, for wisdom to fill the hearts and minds of teachers and students alike.  We ask for safety, protect students from each other, from violence within and without.  We pray that the presence and spirit of Christ Jesus would prevail and permeate our schools to the honor and glory of your holy name.  Amen.

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