By Janene Dubbeld
Is Christian education really that important? Math is Math and English is English no matter how it is taught, right? Aren’t all kids going to grow up someday and turn out okay? Does education affect culture?
Culture is defined by Merriam-Webster as: “the beliefs, customs, arts, etc. of a particular society, group, place or time.” Using this definition, it would make sense that education affects culture. How and what one is taught greatly influences what a person believes or will believe, customs which are or will be considered dear to their heart, and how they express or will choose to express these beliefs and customs. This creates behavioral patterns which will be communicated throughout their lifetime in work, in love, and all aspects of living.
In America, it is easy to see how education has affected culture. When education became public in our country, the Bible was at the core of the curriculum. McGuffey Readers and other early educational literature took the teachings and principles from the Book of Books—the Bible. Taking the time to complete a cultural study would take much longer than one article, but the change in our American educational culture since the removal of prayer and the Bible has been drastically negative.
In 1962, the Supreme Court removed prayer from public school. In 1963, they removed God’s Word, the Bible. In 1980, they removed the Ten Commandments. Removing these foundational stones began crumbling the structure of our country. Today, we are working together to rebuild this foundation. We must not quit! One bright light in the middle of this darkness is our Christian schools. We must keep this light shining to train our children and impact our culture.
Eighteen years before the Supreme Court was removing these imperative things from our schools in America, an Ohio farm couple was hearing the calling of God to take the Gospel of Jesus to another country which would result in a unique type of Christian education. Don Hawk had been to a service at his church where missionaries shared the great need for the Gospel in the country of Honduras. As he was working in the cornfield the following day, he could not get this country out of his mind. Finally, he stopped right there in the middle of the field and told the Lord that he was willing to obey Him, “come what may.”
Selling their farm, the Hawks took their children and moved to Honduras as a family. Their desire was to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Honduran people. This alone would bring light into the darkness of sin and would begin changing hearts and lives—and result in cultural change.
While the Hawks’ main reason for going was to share the Gospel, they were quickly aware that there was much more poverty in Honduras than in the United States. They saw a great need for young men to be taught a better way to provide for their families. Their God-given vision was a boarding school for boys. By teaching the boys farming and a good work ethic, they were immediately introducing yet another path to cultural change.
They purchased 800 acres of land, with only one acre cleared. Putting their hand to the plow, they never looked back, but began the boys farm school called, El Sembrador, which means “the sower.”
The boys attended school half the day and worked the farm half the day. In exchange for working on the farm, boys received room, board, and their education. They learned about the love of Jesus, and since it was a boarding school, they had the opportunity to watch a Christian family in action.
So, what happened? Jesus began using this interactive Christian education to do a work in the hearts and minds of those boys. As they grew up and went out into the Honduran culture, things began to change. For sixty-two years now, El Sembrador has been educating in Honduras with the Gospel. It has expanded to a 2,000-acre farm, with over 7,000 boys having gone through the program. Don and Twana Hawk have gone on to their eternal reward, but their children carry on the work with World Gospel Mission. El Sembrador is now led by qualified Hondurans. Their son, David, is now the Country Director for WGM in Honduras.
The following dialogue with David Hawk shares his story of how our God is unlimited, all-powerful, and culture changing, and education is a powerful tool He uses to do the changing.
Q: Knowing the ultimate answer for any culture is Christ, what were some of the ways you saw the light of the Gospel penetrating the culture?
A: Probably one of the best ways to see the light of the Gospel penetrating the culture in Honduras was observing how the students who left El Sembrador impacted their families and communities. Many times they were leaders in their churches and certainly influenced their families. In some cases, they went on to further their education. It is neat to see how some of those graduates have now duplicated ministries that are somewhat like El Sembrador. We have examples of orphanages, street kids’ ministries, ministries within churches, and other ministries that have been initiated as a result of the experiences young people had in their early years at El Sembrador.
It’s also unique to see how people recognize that it is the Gospel that sets El Sembrador apart from other institutions of help in Honduras. On one occasion, the President of Honduras’ wife was asked why other organizations couldn’t do what we do at El Sembrador. Her response was that the difference is they do it with love, and you don’t get that same response from government institutions.
Q: What role did Christian education play in cultural change?
A: Over the years, the work of World Gospel Mission in Honduras has been instrumental in the establishment of over 260 churches in the country. Over half of these churches are pastored by students who have studied at El Sembrador. It’s safe to say that Christian education has had a significant impact on the culture in which the students have lived and continues to do so where these churches exist.
We must remember that these pastors have families who are being impacted by the Gospel the pastors received when they were children. They, in turn, continue to impact their families and the generations that succeed them. We have also had a significant impact on government education in the area. The standard of education causes a competitive atmosphere within the government’s educational system. People are amazed by the cleanliness of our facilities as well. I am convinced that when the Gospel causes a cleanliness of heart, it will show externally.
Q: How has Christian education impacted you personally?
A: Christian education was very instrumental in making me who I am today. I saw the effects the Gospel had on the students at El Sembrador. Then, as I enrolled in boarding school in another Christian institution, I saw and heard daily what Christ could do in my life. It was here that I gave my life to the Lord. Since my parents were missionaries, I should have known better, but I always assumed that because they were faithful, I would get to heaven because I was their son. During a chapel, I understood that my relationship with Jesus Christ had to be personal. I had to make a commitment in obedience to Him and ask Him to rule my life.
Q: You have served in missions for many years. What would be some stories or facts of how Christian education aids missions in its outreach?
A: One story that comes to mind is of a young man who came to El Sembrador at the age of 10. He was being raised by people other than his parents. He didn’t give his heart to Jesus while at El Sembrador but did so after attending high school when he was studying at the University. It was here he had an experience in which he remembered all the seeds that were planted at El Sembrador, and He gave his life to Christ.
Later on, he began to have a passion for helping children on the street. These were children who had been abandoned by their parents and were on the street using drugs, selling themselves, not understanding the value God placed on their lives and the price Jesus paid for their salvation. Jorge became passionate about rescuing them from the streets and providing a place where they would be able to hear the Gospel, fill their stomachs, and have a warm place to live. Today the Manuelito Project is about ten years old. It has helped countless youth realize the saving power of the Gospel and improve their lives. Some of the very children who were rescued from the streets are now teaching at that same institution.
Q: In your opinion, how is giving children a Christian worldview beneficial in any culture?
A: Christian education at an early age provides the lens through which children can see the world. This is called worldview. When a young child is able to understand they are created in God’s image, have value in God’s eyes and have a purpose, it empowers them to not only understand God’s love for them but also to understand their life should be devoted to God. This devotion will cause them to serve the people around them and demonstrate God’s love. While it is the parent’s responsibility to teach children about the love of God, in today’s world many are abdicating this role. It is very important that Christian schools exist and fill the vacuum left in these children.
Education does impact culture. Education affects how children view this world. That is why Christian education is so vitally important in our world today. Whether in America, Honduras or any other country, to view the world as God does is most important! Christ must be at the center of everything—including education—for Christ transforms culture.
For more information on El Sebrador visit escuelaelsembrador.org.
Volume 8 Issue 2 - The Renewanation Review