‘Give me the children until they are seven, and anyone may have them afterwards.’ Saint Francis Xavier
‘Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.’ Proverbs 22:6
The importance of teaching children was emphasised to the Israelites. Deuteronomy 11 v 18-19 ‘Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.’
Unsurprisingly, in the light of this, the creation of schools has been at the forefront of mission activity across the world. Christians have been heavily involved in education provision and the need is just as great today as it has ever been. In 1811 the Church of England created the National Society with the aim of having a school in every parish and during the colonial era missionaries started schools in many countries.
Educating children well is a responsibility of all parents. Many missionaries rely on international Christian schools to educate their children and this enables them to serve abroad in whatever role they have been called by God to do. However, the challenge for many of these schools is finding teachers. Where are the teachers God is calling to this incredibly important task?
It is no easy challenge to leave home and family to go abroad and teach and this is made harder when support raising is also required. The church needs to rise to this challenge and help to send out those who are called. We should not make them feel embarrassed to ask for support. This is a worthy calling. It is an opportunity for those who are called to stay at home to contribute to the work God is doing abroad.
In my own mission, TeachBeyond UK, there are also increasing opportunities for Christians to teach in schools for nationals where many children have no Christian background. This is a different challenge but a very exciting one. It is a great opportunity to live the gospel daily with the children in your charge. For those who feel they are unable to raise support there is often some salary available with these roles.
Education is a wonderful vehicle for sharing God’s love and preparing children for life. The best education involves transformation of the heart as well as the mind so if you are a teacher, why not teach abroad? If you are not a teacher share this with someone who is.