The recently concluded annual Christian Educators’ Convention cannot over emphasize this message: Christian Education is an instrument of Light in this dark world and Christian Educators and parents are mandated by and are accountable to God for bringing this Light to the students and communities they are serving.
Needless to say, the students our schools and homeschools are privileged to nurture are confronted with lies that are trying hard to hold them captive in the dark. Issues of identity, purpose, and a false sense of freedom top the list. According to a 2019 YMCA study in partnership with nfpSynergy—a consultancy and research organization, included in the top 9 challenges faced by young people in their survey are : Mental Health, Social Media, Social Pressure, and Social Acceptance—where Mental Health and Social Media are on the top 2 (nfpSynergy, 2019).
In contrast to the annual Christian Educators’ Training (CET), the Christian Educators’ Convention (herein known as the EdCon) is an annual gathering not just Learning Center Staff but School Leaders, non-teaching personnel, and homeschool parents aimed at providing needed inspiration as well as to exchange valuable experiences and biblical insights with the SOT®P Staff. It is considered as spiritual refreshment and vision refocusing in the midst of School Staff’s middle-of-the-school-year grind, unlike the CET which is done before the school year starts.
Specifically, this year’s EDCON held at nine (9) different dates and locations all over the Philippines centered on the theme: “Light Your World”. It is hoped that after the one-and-a-half-day event, Christian educators from each school using the system and homeschool parents will have a greater desire to instill the love of the Light of Life and the Word of Life in the students they minister to (Hooge, 2019).
In connection to the pressing issues confronting the young today, the discussions during this year’s EdCon are indeed relevant to the times. Results of the program’s online feedback show that the General Sessions on “Spotlight on Parental Responsibility”, “Taking the Light to the Heart of the Student”, “Social Media, Gadgets & Games”, and by Maria Mimosa Pranza“Dispelling theDarkness” were all rated as the most relevant topic (m = 2.93 using a 3-point scale) in relation to their ministries. This quantitative result is pointedly associated with the participants’ responses to the open-ended question regarding their most significant learning, wherein the theme that emerged is that of being light bearers among their students, parents, and communities. Overall, this year’s convention attended by a total of 675 homeschool parents and 1640 school staff representing 267 schools was rated Excellent (mean score of 3.85 on a 4-point scale) in terms of program logistics and sessions’ content.
However, no matter how relevant this yearly event maybe to the participants, this number of 267 school representation is just a 62.38 percentage of the 428 schools and 42 percent homeschool families enrolled in the SOT®P system.
Because all Christian Educators are hard pressed with the same challenges and issues, this then is a call to see more schools staff involved to take part on this vital annual event. SOT®P desires to see more Christian Educators and parents because in the EdCon, one gets to interact with people who fight the same fight of faith for the children in their care.
As educators are also confronted with discouragements and challenges that lure one away from the mission and vision of the school or homeschool, we need fellow warriors and light bearers in this fight.
Why stay in the school ministry or homeschool when the lure of the public school greener pasture is so strong? Why continue using a Bible-based, individualized system of education when every year, the
need to always resell the system to the DepEd, to parents, and even to other church members and relatives has become a constant reality? Why stay intentional in our discipleship efforts when many of our high school students appear too hardened and distracted to even care about the gospel?
That’s why when participants were asked for suggestions on topics for the EdCon, what emerged as common are spiritual motivational topics regarding staying in ministry and discipling students.
During an EdCon we get to be reminded of the answers to our “Whys”. In the EdCon, educators are reminded that despite SOT®P curriculum’s perceived weaknesses, it remains as that: a perceived weakness. During sessions in the EdCon, parents and educators are reminded that the Bible is not just considered another subject… the Bible is central to every area of learning.
Far more than academics, every homeschool and Christian school exist not just to train children in character development but win them to the Lord Jesus Christ that they may see, taste, and enjoy His person and works above all treasures that this world can off er. In a SOT®P system, salvation in Christ is merely more than foundational. IT IS EVERYTHING.
Additionally, it is during the EdCon that what we value is lived out: relational over organizational. In a church-school, a child is seen as a unique creation of God and that child is dealt with individually. To quote Wess Stafford, “every child is a divine appointment”, and this principle transcends all that is being imparted to attendees in the EdCon. Teachers are challenged to pray for each child, convince them of their need of the gospel, and nurture them in the ways and instruction of the Lord.
More so, in EdCon, a workshop on the role of parents in a school ministry is highlighted. Parents are considered as partners, not clients, customers, or bosses, but partners. That’s why; an all important topic discussed is how teachers and administrators can share Biblical convictions with parents, communicating effectively with them where doors are opened for meaningful dialogue.
“Quality education is heard, seen, and felt. There is nothing to fear because of God is Light”—one Learning Supervisor from Luzon commented. Another one from Mindanao mentioned that the message on taking the Light to the heart of students is what has impacted her the most. A Learning Center Supervisor from the Visayas also shared that her most significant learning is: “As a light bearer, it is my duty to reflect the Light in me (words and actions) to my own family and students. God’s Light should serve as my main guide in dealing with parents, students, and fellow staff . Thank you for the great lessons this year!”
These and more. But the road is still long and narrow and unpopular, and more often, uphill and rough. Light bearers then are what this darkened world is desperately in need of. Why not join an EdCon next year? Start praying and planning… now.