As believers, we know that doing the right thing does not always end the way we want it to. We know that following the Lord’s leading brings its own rewards – even when we don’t see right away.
Find Your Timothy
Case in point: Huntington, Indiana’s By the Book RTBE program started 2020 off with a right move: a smooth succession to new leadership. Longtime Director and teacher Kathie Mower had been encouraged by our School Ministries Ohio 2017 “Find Your Timothy” conference to identify and train a younger leader to eventually take over the responsibilities of Director. At the end of February, she passed the baton to Stephanie Thompson, who thought: this program’s been around and running smoothly for 75 years – how hard can this be?!
Pretty hard, as it turns out! COVID-19 struck our nation in general, and Huntington schools in particular. But God had gone ahead… when Kathie had stepped away from the Director position, she didn’t leave By the Book – Kathie joined their Board, and took the lead in the program’s prayer effort.
Prepare for the Unexpected
They participated in School Ministries’ April webinar and School Ministries Ohio’s mid-May “Back to School Summit” WebEx call. Convicted that tough challenges were facing their program which served hundreds of students last year, Stephanie went before the By-the-Book Board (which – reasonably – didn’t expect to discuss next fall’s plans at its end-of-year May meeting!), laid out the options and urged adoption of contingency plans. Kathie and their dedicated prayer team focused on praying for their kids, By the Book and the local schools.
Given all the physical distancing requirements and many issues facing the schools, Stephanie had to work to get a face-to-face meeting with the school decision maker. He began the conversation lamenting how even as they planned to return full-time, students behind from last spring needed every academic minute they could get – why should By the Book be allowed to meet even a small percentage of the school week? Stephanie was inspired to reply: because the kids need social and emotional healing and help – and that is exactly what comes to them from the faith-based learning of By the Book. She followed up with specific examples of how hurting kids have been helped through the years. She stressed that By the Book wants to do its part so that public school children can thrive, and also the public schools.
The official asked for By the Book’s plans and contingency plans within the week. Because they had been praying and working toward this moment, Stephanie finalized their drafts, reached out to us for comments and suggestions, and was able to meet the tight deadline.
Doors Closed for Now
Unfortunately, the answer was no; though the schools seemed receptive, the local health department nixed the plans. Huntington’s kids will go without weekday Bible classes this fall. By the Book will continue to pray and work toward trying to keep in touch through other, possibly less effective, ways. Any outreach is better than none.
The schools have invited By the Book to talk again late in this semester; perhaps springtime remains an alternative…
Stephanie plans to write both the school official and health department notes of thanks for consideration. Kathie and their team will keep praying for all.
Results Up to God
The takeaway: Pray continually. Whatever the decision, stay in respectful relationship with your school officials. Call us to brainstorm ideas to keep the Bible before your students this fall and beyond… Praying that the Gospel will still find its way into the hearts of public school kids, even in this unwieldy, unlikely year. God is still in control – and we know His heart is for His children to know and show His love.
Above all, let’s listen for the Lord’s leading and be obedient to do our part. The results are up to Him.