A Tale of Two Infants

My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

~ Psalm 139: 15-16

Two Septembers ago I held little Mustafa, infant son of my Muslim friend Ameen, in my arms. His glistening brown eyes and curly black hair demonstrated the Bedouin heritage of his ancient village of Tekoa. Four months later in Chicago, I was snuggling with Evelyn, our first grandchild, on the day of her birth. I sat in wonderment at how different these two children’s lives would be.

Both Evelyn and Mustafa are loved by God and loved by their parents. Evelyn will attend a school where she will learn of God’s intentional heart for her, but this will be caught even more than it is taught. She will grow to understand that only she, no one else, can fill the part of God’s plan that is reserved for her. She will know God’s personal, seeking love. She will understand that her gifts come from God and her potential is great when put in his service. Mustafa will attend a traditional Palestinian school steeped in Islamic tradition.

Evelyn’s school will infuse a biblical perspective into each subject area. Her teachers will intentionally include kingdom-building aspects into their math and science lessons, as well as their history and English classes. She will see chapel and Bible as natural extensions of her learning, not pious additions unrelated to the rest of her day. Teachers at Mustafa’s school will work just as hard infusing a Koranic worldview into their lessons.

During the course of Evelyn’s day, she will learn practices related to her faith. She will not only learn to pray and sing in community; she will also practice forgiveness, patience, kindness, justice, creation care, and many more intentional practices of Christian living. Mustafa will practice reciting “There is one God, Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.” He will pray five times per day and learn about hajj, Ramadan, and tithing.

When she graduates, Evelyn will be able to articulate and defend a biblical worldview. As importantly, she will do so with grace and truth. Mustafa will also be able to articulate a worldview, but it will be different from Evelyn’s.

I recently attended a meeting to explore the potential of a Christian school working with a newly forming public charter school in our area. There were many similarities to the goals and objectives of the two schools. Then the charter school representative spoke eloquently about its ultimate purpose: “The formation of a person who is happy and good, a flourishing human being.” From a secular standpoint, it is difficult to argue against such an ultimate goal. But how does such a goal fit within seeking first the kingdom of God? I am reminded of the difference a few degrees on the compass can make. If our purposes are just a few degrees different from each other’s, our paths quickly diverge and we end up in very different places.

Why am I passionate about Christian education and biblical worldview? Not all students are as different from each other as Mustafa and Evelyn, but the education a child receives either honors God’s weaving together “in the depths of the earth” or not. Every child is educated according to some worldview. Children grow into builders of some kind of kingdom. Two questions for schools are, What kind of kingdom are we building, and to what extent are we proactively engaged in that task?

– by Bart DenBoer, CSI worldview specialist

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