The Home School Court Report
VOLUME XIII, NUMBER 6
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NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 1997
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P R E S I D E N T ’ S   P A G E

Keeping Other People’s Promises

     There have been other large rallies in Washington, D.C. Perhaps this was the largest. But all of the other large rallies were fueled by the specific goals of the featured political agenda.
     Promise Keepers was the first truly large rally with a wholly non-political message: Christian men should repent of their sins, keep their biblically-based promises of fidelity, and serve others.
     The reaction of the world before the rally was predictable. Feminists screeched loudly at the idea of men being encouraged to be leaders in their homes, and the media pundits spoke and wrote with grave concern about this right-wing Christian men’s movement.
     But the reaction of the national and Washington, D.C., media after the rally was, to me, more amazing than the numbers amassed on the Mall. The Washington Post contained several favorable articles. Chief of these was an article by Courtland Milloy, a liberal columnist, who praised PK for taking one Washington public school from an eyesore and safety trap to a showplace in a single day. PK had been prevented from upgrading all the District’s schools by a judge’s meddlesome order.
     Milloy heaped praise on PK for being the first group to actually do something positive for the District schools. Scores of politicians and federal officials had promised to do something. But as Milloy pointed out, Promise Keepers was worthy of high praise because they kept other people’s promises.
     Promise Keepers succeeded in conveying the most positive message I have seen in my lifetime about Christians and Christianity because its message of the importance of male leadership was appropriately balanced with lessons on sin, selflessness, and servanthood. PK’s message of racial unity in Christ was also significant.
     Sometimes home schoolers focus so much on a message of condemnation toward the public schools that it is impossible for the public to hear us talk without becoming defensive and reacting negatively. So even though our points may be sound and our criticism valid, we’ve lost our audience. If we want to deliver a message that will open the ears and eyes of our most ardent critics, we would do well to take a page from the Promise Keepers.
     It is high time that home schoolers begin to reach out in ministry. And one of the very best places for us to begin fits perfectly with the theme of “keeping other people’s promises.”
     There are millions of children in our country who are suffering because of broken promises. They are growing up amid the debris of broken marriages, broken families, and broken school systems.
     Public school students have been promised a good education time and time again by scores of local, state, and national education leaders and politicians. But vast numbers, particularly those in inner cities and the rural poor, have not even learned to read by the time they graduate from high school despite all the promises.
     I believe God has blessed the home schooling movement with success because we have kept our promises to our families. We have found an excellent way to teach our own children and it would be a waste of God’s blessing not to share our methods and our success with others.
     While we do not have the time or ability to teach these children everything, we could teach tens of thousands of them how to read-the key which opens the door to lifelong learning.
     Home schooled high school students, under the leadership of some moms and dads, could readily join with an inner city church, for example, to provide a regular reading clinic to young children who will not be successfully taught to read in any other manner.
     By emphasizing phonics and personal attention, these children will read far better than those receiving group instruction in the discredited “whole language” method that dominates public education.
     No better proof of the value of individual instruction is possible than a program that enables the least successful and most ignored children in America to take their rightful spot among the best and the brightest in the critical subject of reading.
     We will never need to trumpet our desire for Christian service if we undertake such projects. Our actions will speak louder than any words.