So, why do I send my kids to school?
Last October, we told you about a school that our friend, Deshpande, started in a very poor community here in Delhi. Years ago,
The good news is that Deshpande cares for these people, and they now have a school. Today, I visited that community because Deshpande wanted me to talk with the parents, to try to convince them that sending their children to the school is important. They like having the school there, and theoretically see value in education for their children, but when it comes down to it, attendance is irregular.
Education is important. You’d think that would be an easy topic for a teacher whose mother and grandmother were both teachers! Yet, there I stood, unsure of what to say. Learning to read is important for these people? Really? How? I mean it…how? It’s one thing to believe that education is important when you live in a land that revels in the pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstrap stories, but what do you do when you live in a land that doesn’t allow for that? Here, if you’re born a street sweeper, you die a street sweeper, and your kids will, too, even if they can read. The only hope is a good death which will either free you to your next reincarnation (if you’re Hindu), or take you to paradise (if you’re Muslim, like these folks).
So, I asked them. Why was education important to them? One lady answered the obvious, “If you go to school, you can learn to read.” I responded with, “What’s so good about that? Why is reading good?” That stopped her. She didn’t know what to say.
I looked over at the old man sitting in the plastic chair to my right. Long white beard. Muslim skull cap on his head. How many children did he have? Nine. Did any of them go to school? No. Did he know how to read? No. Another man was the father of six. Some of his kids did go to school, but he can’t read. Another lady had four kids, but none attended school. No, she can’t read, either. They live literally their whole lives in the dirt. What was I supposed to say to people who are truly thankful for daily wages, and who are so locked into an oppressive system that they truly have no hope for improvement of their own or their children’s lives?
Where to start? With a story. I told them about King Solomon, the wisest king who ever lived. I had no idea if they’d ever heard of him, so I started with his father, David, and told how he’d been a good king, and that Solomon wanted to rule well, but was afraid
I ended the story by quoting one of Solomon’s proverbs: A wise man is mightier than a strong man, and a man of knowledge is more powerful than a strong man (Proverbs 24:5). Here, from the wisest king who ever lived, is the answer to the question. Why should we send our kids to school? So they can learn to become wise.
Do you know, they clapped at the end? They loved it. Heads nodded. They agreed! Yes, our children need wisdom. We must encourage them to go to school!
God kept another promise today, too. Years ago, Jesus told His followers that He would always be with them wherever they went. I felt that today. I had absolutely no idea what I was going to say to these dear people. Honestly, I haven’t thought about Solomon for a long time. But, God knew how to reach these folks. He knew what they needed to hear, and it wasn’t some American, suburban perspective on improving one’s life by good education and hard work. No, what these folks were ready for was the real story of a real man who asked something from the Real God.
Please join us in praying for this dear community of people, that, like Solomon, they will become wise, and therefore, mighty!