Somewhere in America this week, Protestant Christ followers will donate money to fund missionaries. The offering for the Lottie Moon fund will be collected. Mission to the World will get a check. The Foreign Mission Board will be funded and prayed for. The Salvation Army bell will be rung.
Around the nation, Evangelical America will, throughout the year, hear tales of their missions, missionaries, and their money at work drawing people in foreign lands and occasional parts of the United States to Christ. They will hear of using their money to rebuild churches and homes after disaster, to care for the homeless, and to fund retirements of past preachers of the Truth. They will get lists of where their missionaries are, some with the word “Sensitive” in place of the name of China or Syria or Cuba. They will pray.
On Monday morning, many in Evangelical America will get up and take their kids off to a church affiliated school, having chosen to remove their children from declining, failing, and secular government schools. Others will wake and teach their children themselves, sometimes combining with other parents to homeschool.
On Sunday morning, many curious new comers will probably go into a church not called a church lest it deter them, where they will experience a Christ who may or may not be as they seek the Christ who is and was when they were young and more open to receiving him The conversion of the flock is not as difficult when done at an early age when the mind is still open to the miraculous. “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
What Evangelical America will most likely not do this week or this Sunday or any week or any Sunday is write a check to send a stranger’s child in a government school to a Christian school. This is one of the greatest failure of the evangelical church in the United States of America.
Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.
Long before the Protestant church in America took up the cause of life, their Catholic brothers and sisters were on the front lines of the abortion fight championing children still to be born. In fact, much of the Protestant church was indifferent to or supportive of abortion rights. But as mainline denominations began to crumble under the weight of their increasing embrace of the world and evangelicals increasingly became the voice of American protestantism, the Protestant church began to take up the cause of life with Catholics.
Catholics have also led the way in America in sectarian educational missionary work. It has not always been successful and in some cases has become unrecognizable from secular institutions. But much of the work the Catholic Church has done to fund schools that the poor can go to has been successful. Often, the Catholic Church has done more with less than the surrounding public schools and turned out better and brighter students drawn from the same demographics as the surrounding secular schools.
By contrast, much of what amounts to Christian education among evangelicals in America is educational separation from the secular world. With increasing intolerance of and hostility toward Christian values, Christians have opted out of government schools. In doing so, though, they have not been great missionaries to the outside world.
Sure, many Christian schools have scholarships that let poor children in who otherwise could not afford go to the school. Often Christian schools will lure athletes away from government schools with scholarships. But the number of evangelical schools in America designed as tools of missionary outreach to a secular, fallen world are few and far between.
Christians in America will fund missionaries to China or Appalachia, but in their own backyard are poor children in broken homes whose only way out is through education. The government fails them. Christians should be starting schools tomorrow across America — a shared faith in evangelical interdenominational communities pooling shared resources — to try to pull the future away from a precipice far more disastrous than the so called fiscal cliff.
The decay and decline of the American family has rotted society. We can see in many schools that even children from the rot, decline, and decay can achieve and break free from the cycle of poverty if given the chance. But government and teachers unions and many other factors collide to prevent a way out and a way up for so many.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
The missionary dollars of Evangelical America are needed as much in this nation for teaching children increasingly removed from presuppositional Judeo-Christian values so many once took for granted. We should stop ceding the ground to secular failure. Or we should stop lamenting the creeping secularism in a nation whose children are taught in morally relative schools with “winter” parties instead of “Christmas” parties.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.