|| 20th ANNIVERSARY
ALONG THE WAY
Looking toward the future
an interview by Zan Tyler
What is your vision for homeschooling?
Smith: Looking back, it is obvious to me that God was behind our homeschooling. We started homeschooling because of circumstances—not religious conviction. That came later. Our vision in the beginning was to love and protect our children and to do what was best for them.
At some point, it's fair to say, that we began to see that homeschooling was a calling from God. He used circumstances in our life to get us involved in the Christian discipleship of our family and to see that we were fulfilling God's command that we nurture our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. That's what God did in our family by bringing us into homeschooling.
I see the Christian homeschool movement as a potential for revival as our children are trained up in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord. My vision for Christian homeschooling continues to be the advancement of the kingdom of God by strengthening families and preparing children to go out and change the world by being salt and light. Homeschooled children have the spiritual foundation to stand up and engage the culture. They have the confidence to go into the public arena and be advocates for Christ and for home education.
I think home education gives us the opportunity to see revival come through the next generation. As adults, we're helping, but it's not going to happen totally through us. It will have to happen through our children and through their children, and because revival needs some momentum to carry on, it's probably not going to happen overnight.
A verse that I have recently discovered and rely heavily upon is Isaiah 26:9: "I desire you early in the morning and in the evening. When God's judgments are on the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn of righteousness."
I think this is my promise from God: if we prepare our children to seek God and His Word and to become mature Christians, when they're ready to go into the world—then our nation will collectively learn of righteousness. Then we will witness our nation's return to a biblical foundation.
Farris: When we started homeschooling Christy, I didn't see where this was going to go. When the homeschooling world consisted of mainly seven- and eight-year-olds, it was hard to see the big picture. As the homeschooling movement matured and our students grew up, I began to really understand that we weren't just going to win spelling bees for the rest of our lives—that these kids who could win spelling bees disproportionately could also win congressional races disproportionately. The vision has just grown from there. We are truly training the next generation to "take back the land."
I have three married daughters, all with children of their own. I think they really exemplify what's successful with homeschooling—from parenting to missions work to high school ministry. There was a day that I would have to talk about test scores, college boards, and GPAs to demonstrate the success of homeschooling in the lives of my girls. But that doesn't mean anything when they're 25 years old.
When our children become adults, we quit asking so many questions about their academics, because academics was simply the preparation for life. With grown children, we ask these questions: How are they are living? Are they walking with God? Are they making an impact on our society?
It's been apparent for a long time that homeschooled kids are going to have the capacity to come out on top because of academic excellence and character depth. As long as we continue to emphasize both of those things well, our kids will lead.
What legacy would you like to leave to your children, your grandchildren, and your great grandchildren?
Smith: I would like for my children to see their father as someone who loved the Lord more than anything else, and who loved His Word. I want them to see that he witnessed to other people of his faith, that he tried to live God's Word consistently (certainly not perfectly!). Ultimately I pray they will take the challenge to go further than their father in their spiritual lives—and pass that legacy on to their children and their children's children.
Farris: I want to leave to my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren the legacy of a nation that is under God, and is still a free, self-governing republic. That's not going to happen without people, both in political and cultural leadership, who believe in the principles of freedom and believe in God. In that regard, HSLDA was not the end; it was a means to an end. The end was freedom for homeschool families. And freedom for homeschool families was also a means to an end, the end being the development of righteous kids. While righteous kids has an eternal objective all by itself, we also want our children's lives to be filled with a life of service. It's not their childhood that is the measure; it's their adulthood.
I have felt that God has been calling me to help students make that transition from righteous childhood into righteous adulthood in a way that impacts our nation positively, and that is what Patrick Henry College is all about. We're working with young people that already have a strong spiritual foundation built by their families. We want to help them and train them to be the top-end leaders in this nation, who will be instrumental in restoring our republic to its biblical foundation.