My husband works at a pretty rough inner-city high school: The Ridge (so affectionately called by the students and staff). This year alone*, my husband has witnessed more brokenness than seems possible for these young lives. Three of his students have been shot. One student was apprehended from his classroom with a gun concealed in his backpack. My husband has broken up (and/or been punched in) several full-out fist pumping, hair tearing fights. Profanity colors every conversation. The stench of weed permeates his classroom. Just recently, he found himself attempting to counsel a lonely sixteen year old girl who just miscarried.
My husband was sharing the experience with me and remarked that his vice principal feels all teachers should be required to take counseling courses– so many students need guidance. As an aside, my husband praised her efforts with the students: “She’s really great. She addresses all the students as ‘child of God.’ She’ll say, ‘Come here, child of God’.” He laughed and agreed, “There really is no other name for them.”
I felt my own heart challenged by her outlook. I’ve found myself frustrated and fearful of my husband’s work situation. School shootings seem to be on the rise. Many of his students come from broken homes. Many of his students are recent immigrants. He has students with gender confusion, drug addiction, gang affiliations, and disability labels. Yet these students share a common need for hope. Hope for a way out of the brokenness. And that hope lies in Christ: for in Him, they are . . .
A child of immense worth to His Creator: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb . . . . Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139: 13,16
An image bearer of the Almighty God: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
A child for whom Christ died: “And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” 2 Corinthians 5:16
When we live these truths our interactions with students change. We begin to desire that each child of God (made by Him, for Him) become a Child of God (reunited with Him through Christ). When we believe these truths, we find love for the unlovely and peace despite constant unrest. We find Christ enables us to replace fear with respect, anger with forgiveness, frustration with patience, pride with humility, and distrust with love. Christ bends our hearts away from self-focus (our rights, our interests, our safety) to a Gospel focus fueled by His unquenchable love in order to see His wayward children restored to Him.
*I wrote this post last spring in the 2017-2018 school year. However, I hope these thoughts might encourage you to seek opportunities to minister to your child’s classmates (and families) in the coming school year.