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Home Schooling: Relevant for the Rest of the World

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S P E C I A L   F E A T U R E

Home Schooling: Relevant for the Rest of the World

     Home education is now widely recognized as a good idea for Americans. But just how relevant is it for the rest of the world? Michael Farris and his daughter, Jayme, recently explored this topic in a series of interviews for HSLDA’s daily radio program, Home School Heartbeat.
     In December 1997, Jayme, who is 20, returned from a year in Oradea, Romania, where she worked as the English language secretary at Emmanuel Bible Institute and also at a home for abandoned babies. A transcript of Mike’s interview with Jayme follows.

         Jayme, what perspective has your experience overseas given you on the direction of the home school movement?

         To be honest, I was surprised to see the absolute relevance that our philosophy of strong families and godly, well-trained young people carries for the rest of the world. Romania, for example is recovering from decades of devastating Communism. There is a lot of work to do in that country, and if you looked at the big picture, it would seem hopeless. But if you look at those who are employing the philosophy of raising godly children, that’s where the hope is.
         I was working at a Emmanuel Bible Institute—a Baptist college—that is training over 300 students to become Christian leaders and to return to their homes throughout Eastern Europe as native missionaries. That’s exciting. I also worked at a small orphanage with a unique ministry: Hope Orphanage goes to the root of the abandoned child problem by taking the children from the hospitals, streets, and state orphanages, and caring for them until Christian families adopt them. These little lives are being turned around 180 degrees. It’s these children, and the students at Emmanuel Bible Institute who are the hope for Romania.
         As home schoolers will tell you, a righteous nation begins with strong families and godly children.

         When you left for Romania last January, it was your first time away from home. In retrospect, how did your education prepare you for the challenges of life in Eastern Europe?

         Well, when you go to another country, you can never be prepared for everything. But I found that home schooling did prepare me in many practical ways.
         For instance, it prepared me to work with and teach children. I became friends with many of the children in my bloc apartment and was able to have a Vacation Bible School with them in June. On weekends at the orphanage, I fed, held, and played with the children. My big, close family prepared me for both.
         The writing skills I pounded away at in home schooling really helped me as the English language secretary at the college.
         I was also able to find and follow my own learning style as I learned the Romanian language, and this was something I had learned to do as a home schooler.
         Home schooling also taught me to be self-motivated. I had two jobs in Romania and pretty much designed my own schedule, and I had to be self motivated.
         Most importantly, home schooling gave me a God-based education. I could talk about my time in Romania in human terms, but the reality is that God called me there, and He was in it, and if anything was accomplished it’s because I got out of the way and let Him work.

         Tell us about the most important way you grew while living in Oradea, Romania, last year.

         This past year was so valuable for me. It broadened my horizons incredibly. The world to me now seems smaller, the rest of the world closer, the people and their needs more real, and it seems perfectly possible to make a difference in the world if the Lord is in it.
         I also saw how much culture affects the way we look at the world. For instance, Westerners and Easterners see time so differently. I discovered that Romanians don’t place the same emphasis that we do on schedules, punctuality, or calling ahead. But they are much more flexible, hospitable, and generous.
         People in Eastern Europe, even Christians, are much more symbolic in their religion and believe strongly in the supernatural. It’s so interesting how even the language expresses itself differently than English does—I found worshiping God in another language to be very rich. I also began to take my preconceived notions with a grain of salt and to depend on the Bible more as my foundation, as I depended upon my cultural background less.
         Finally, one of my important growth areas was just in recognizing how simple life truly can be. In Romania, you rejoice in a reliable water supply and a good phone line, and it’s amazing how free you are when all the material things aren’t there! We can get along with amazingly little, and simple lives free us up for service.

         Jayme, home schoolers tend to be very aware of our political battles to defend our children, faith, and freedom. But I wonder how aware we are of spiritual battles. You had an experience this year which showed you that side of the battle. Can you briefly tell us about it?

         This October, a few Christian students and I traveled from our home in Oradea to the city of Tirgu Jiu in the south, for a short mission trip. On Saturday evening, we were in a Baptist church at a youth meeting. A young man suddenly stood up in the middle of the sermon and ran outside the church, beginning to shriek. This young man had been in a neurological hospital for years with unexplainable problems, but we soon realized that his condition was not neurological. He was without doubt possessed by evil spirits. A four-hour battle ensued. It was just about 15 of us in a little room, praying and singing like never before in our lives, as the pastor and a few others rebuked the spirit. After one and a half hours of no change, several of us went into a back room to call the brothers in Oradea, asking them to pray. That was the turning point. Over the next two and a half hours, seven unclean spirits left, and the young man, sweaty and trembling, finally prayed to receive Christ.
         I must say my Western perspective was changed by this experience. The spiritual battle is more real than many of us realize, and we stay in our civilian clothing when we badly need our armor on. Our God can do mighty things through us if we are ready.

         The home school movement of today is thriving. While home schoolers must continue to defend their rights, they now have a unique opportunity to launch a strong offense into a lost world. Jayme, based on your experience overseas, tell us how home school students and families can become involved in God’s work internationally.

         Well, first of all, I strongly recommend that youth take a week, or a month, or a year, to go to a different part of the world on a short-term missions trip. My year in Romania gave me an invaluable perspective on the world, culture, and America, besides strengthening my personal walk with God. If nothing else, short-term missions will give youth a love for the international body of Christ, and an awareness of how to pray for the lost.
         Families also can get involved by strategically learning and praying together about different sections of the world, maybe even finding a missionary or a native church to correspond with. Contacting Christian human rights groups like Christian Solidarity International or Voice of the Martyrs should get you started on praying for Christians throughout the world, especially those being persecuted.
         Financial projects are also a good way to teach your children about the importance of evangelization. As a family, you can sponsor a child, or raise money for a certain missionary or ministry. The more personal you can make your involvement, the better.
         Children learn by what they see modeled. More than anything, your actions will teach your children about the importance of the Great Commission.

To assist your family in praying for persecuted Christians in other countries, contact:

Christian Solidarity International
15 Chester Street
Front Royal, VA 22630
Phone: (540) 636-8907
Fax: (540) 636-8908

Voice of the Martyrs, Inc.
Servants of the Persecuted Church
P.O. Box 443
Bartlesville, OK 74005-9934
Phone: (918) 337-8015

Many agencies handle international adoptions. This one has worked directly with Hope Orphanage in the past.

P.O. Box 88948
Seattle, WA 98138
Phone: (206) 575-4550
Fax: (206) 575-4148