I want to take this opportunitymy last column as President of Home School Legal Defense Associationto say thanks to a number of people who have enabled me to have the greatest job that I could imagine for the past 17 years.
Starting in order of time, I want to first say thanks to my dad, Conward Farris. I have a vivid memory walking with my dad across a field toward an irrigation junction box when I was in about the fourth grade. I cant remember what I said in the conversation, but my dads reply is burned in my mind. Well, Mike, if you want to be involved in politics, you should really become a lawyer like Mr. Morbeck there, he said, pointing to our neighbors house.
My dad had taken me to countless school board meetingshe was a public elementary school principal. He also introduced me to politics through various speakers who came through town. Most importantly, my dad led me to Christ when I was six years old on November 9, 1957.
Education and politics got in my blood, and Jesus Christ came into my heart all because of my dad. His goal for me was to become a lawyer for school districts to defend them from the ACLU. I think we both recognized that, by the time I finished law school, the education establishment was on the same philosophical side as the ACLU. I needed another track if I was going to remain true to the basic calling my dad had helped me understand as Gods call on my life. Home schooling defense eventually became that track, though no one could have predicted that outcome.
Second, I want to say thanks to Tim and Beverly LaHaye. For six years, I had the privilege of working for Beverly at Concerned Women for America, with the bonus of Tim as a nearby mentor. They introduced me to both the national stage in Christian activism and an idea that proved to be extraordinarily significant in my lifehome schooling. I was recording a television show for the LaHayes when they introduced me to another guest who was there to talk about home schooling. That was the conversation that caused me to launch HSLDA less than a year later.
Tim and Bev have been extraordinary examples of Christian leaders who have the same personal integrity up close as they appear to have from afar. I owe them a lot.
Mike Smith and his exuberant wife, Elizabeth, have been stalwarts in my life for over 17 years. Mike is my friend and we have operated HSLDA much like a partnership for a long time now. More than anything else, Mike has shown me faithful loyaltynot only in support, but also, even more, when he has challenged me to rethink a planned course of action. Mike has been my primary source for personal accountability for many years.
At the risk of leaving people out, I need to say thanks also to those extraordinary women who have taken on the challenging task of being my secretary. Lois Ventsias, Sonia Gustafson, Annette Hollaran, Debbie Stevenson, and now for the past eight years, Sally Cowanwho has held this job longer than anyone ever. Although Sally is truly great and I will miss her tremendously if she ever leaves, I have to say that I am praying that God will bring Mr. Right into her life sometime soon. She deserves it.
There are a thousand reasons to thank my wife, Vickie, and our 10 kids. But one will have to suffice for now. Vickie, unless you had been willing to follow God by home schooling our children, this ministry never would have happened.
And finally, I want to express my deepest gratitude to the moms and dads who have made HSLDA possible by being faithful members. The thousands and thousands of you whom I have personally met have given me memories that I will treasure as long as the Lord gives me breath
Two more things seem important to mention at this time. First, I want to thank all of you who have prayed for me. You cant begin to understand how important that is to me. And when people tell me that they pray for me every day, I am humbled and encouraged and empowered.
As I transition to a part-time role at HSLDA, I truly hope that you all will continue to pray for me. Mike Smith and the rest of our staff covet your prayers as well, but I hope you wont forget to pray for me.
The second thing that seems appropriate to mention is the warm responses I have received from so many of youparticularly momsfrom the columns I have written in this space over the years. God has placed on my heart a desire to encourage you through my writing. But, it has been you who have encouraged me. I have been encouraged by watching you change the shape of America and the future for your own children as you sacrifice your time to home school your children.
Some lawyers represent criminals who seek due process. Others represent those with financial concerns. Others preside over the breakup of families in divorce courts. It has been my privilege to stand beside courageous moms and dads who are acting with the selfless nobility that drives a parent to home school their children. No other lawyer has ever had a better group of clients.
I may be leaving all of the administrative work behind, but I am still your lawyer. I look forward to training many of your children at Patrick Henry College. I hope to help mold them into the political, legal, business, and societal leaders who will rebuild our societyon the foundation that you have laid through the strength that only comes through Jesus Christ.