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Each year our church holds a Missions Conference. A few years ago, a missionary from West Africa gave a stirring account of how a school had been built to educate the young people and prepare adults for indigenous missionary work. The parents saw the schools as a means to a better life for their children. So while the parents spent the day working to stay alive, their children would spend a few hours at school. The missionaries set up the schools as a way to present the gospel as well as to introduce them to a broader education. Once the children became literate, they could read the Bible and basic theological primers, both in English and their own language if a translation was available. Once the children could read the Bible, they would take their child-like understanding of God’s Word home to their parents. Many parents would come to know Christ by way of their children.
I watched the expressions on the faces of the people in our Sunday School class as they heard these wonderful stories about how so many otherwise unreached people were hearing the gospel. They were excited enough actually to donate to the building of more of these schools. It’s such a simple and practical strategy, the Great Commission at work.
So why isn’t this strategy used in America? Why not erect Kingdom Academies in areas where the unsaved need a place to put their children during the day as they head off to work? Many women don’t have the luxury to stay at home with their children. They have to work, for any number of reasons that escape many of us. They might be divorced or abandoned by their husband. Maybe they are escaping an abusive spouse. Some might be single mothers who are trying to better themselves, and a job is a prime necessity. We rant and rave about the evils of abortion, as we should, but when women must work and have a place to put their child while they are on the job, we reject the idea of day care, even if it’s Christian. It really doesn’t matter what the reason is as to why they must work; they need a safe environment for their children until quitting time. Why do so few Christians see this as a missionary opportunity? I don’t get it.
And what about Christian mothers who find themselves in a similar position where they must work, again, for whatever reason? What choices do they have? They have to work to care for their children. Wouldn’t it be great if there were Christian day care establishments that offered a truly biblical curriculum where children learned to read by the age of three, studied the Bible, memorized Scripture verses, had a stable and disciplined daily routine taught to them, and then went home as changed little boys and girls? When mom or dad asked, “And what did you learn in school today,” they would get an earful, an earful of the gospel!
How is setting up Christian day care centers—I prefer to call them “Kingdom Academies”—different from building schools in Africa so the gospel can be made available to young people so parents might hear as well? It’s not. The church is missing out on a missionary opportunity literally in its back yard. Some of these children will drag their parents to church. When these children reach the age to enter the first grade, many parents will want to continue the education that these Kingdom Academies began. Church Sunday School rooms are vacant six days a week. This is a waste of the tithe. They should be used as schools. Churches that establish Kingdom Academies will have a steady supply of students to continue the work begun in them. Unlike Timothy, many young parents didn’t have a faithful grandmother and mother who instilled a “sincere faith within” them (2 Tim. 1:5), and as a result, they don’t have a mature faith to instill in their own children.
If you want to change the world, change the children. How can teaching children to read and taking them through the Bible five days a week be a bad thing, especially when most families, Christian ones included, don’t do it?