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Love Your Enemies

Do you watch the news every day? Follow a blog of current events? How about checking the daily headlines online? I do. Lately, I’ve become a bit more discouraged with what I read. Even if I try to look past the politicians arguing over Brexit or the US government shutdown, just yesterday there were stories of an avalanche, a pipeline blast, suicide attackers, economic troubles, a measles outbreak, a military revolt, a bomb attack, and migrants drowning in the Mediterranean. Some days the news is more than I can bear.

This week would have been the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., the well-known civil rights leader who advocated for peace and restoration. In an article written by John Stonestreet from the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Rev. King is quoted as saying, “The end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community.” Stonestreet said that King “had in mind the hard work of restoration, which not only would undo unjust laws and discrimination, but would see them replaced with the kinds of relationships that cannot be legislated into existence—relationships built on love and mutual support.”

Politics is not the answer. Thinking that we can write a law to change a person’s heart is absurd. I remember having a conversation with a student who was acting out in class. He was being rude to the teacher and interrupting the lessons. I could have talked with him all day about how he had to respect the teacher, but he just didn’t. In the end I told him that I understood that inside he was really standing up (in protest), but that for now I would accept him sitting down (on the outside). In other words, I would be fine if he just didn’t exhibit the improper behavior even though I knew that he still wanted to and felt he had a right to. After years of working with him, he hit rock bottom and had to leave the school. But that’s not the end of the story. He returned to thank me for the grace that I had shown to him over the years, acknowledging that he now knew that his attitude had been wrong. He showed remorse and repentance, asking for forgiveness. It wasn’t the school rules that changed his heart. It wasn’t the detentions or even the suspensions that did anything. When he finally met God face to face and was able to acknowledge his own sinfulness, then God brought about redemption and reconciliation.

Speaking of the world’s need during this time of overt disdain and violence, Stonestreet said that “we can only seek the reconciliation grounded in an overflowing love for God and neighbor that seeks nothing in return. The kind of relationships that cannot be legislated.” What we need is a heart change. As Christians, we must be the first to show what it means to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6).” Please join me in prayer for our school community, for our city, for our nation, and for the nations of the world. Pray that God’s overflowing love would be recognized and poured out so that those who are experiencing illness or poverty or war would have the assurance that there are those of us who care. We are the ones who must first demonstrate that love to our neighbors, to our children, and even to those that outwardly hate us. I wonder what the headlines would look like if we took Jesus’ words seriously and really did this? I wonder.

Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Director

Stonestreet, J. (2019, January 21). MLK and Beloved Community: Reconciliation and Restoration. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.breakpoint.org/

Transformative Education

Recently I was asked to write an article about the state of global education. As part of my research, I came across a 2017 report by World Bank that warned of “a learning crisis” in global education. The report said there are 260 million children who are not enrolled in any form of school, while those in the world’s poorest countries are receiving an inadequate education that is only widening the gap between those who are prepared for today’s demands and those that still lack basic life skills. The report also spoke of some of the primary reasons for this “learning crisis.” As I read through the report, I realized that the words of the global educators that had met with me in Rwanda in November had said almost the exact same thing. The three main issues they experience are unprepared students, unmotivated teachers, and unqualified administrators.

The students are unprepared to learn because of a variety of situations. For some it is a lack of adequate food, housing, clothing, etc. For others there is a lack of funds to provide for education. For others, the children are needed to help earn money for the family, so they cannot go to school. At ICSV we are blessed to have your children come to school each day. You love them and encourage them; you provide for their physical needs; and you willingly partner with us to provide them with a high-quality education. ICSV students are prepared to learn.

In many countries, it is difficult to find qualified, passionate teachers. It is not uncommon for teachers to take their paychecks and then never return to the classroom. Many have only received a minimal level of education, so they are not prepared for the challenges of teaching. Some are given classes of up to 80 students. At ICSV, we are blessed to have such an amazing group of highly-trained and motivated teachers. We are privileged to have teachers in our classrooms that could have their pick of schools in which to work, but they have chosen ICSV. They love the students and are passionate about their subjects. At ICSV we have motivated teachers.

The administrators at the conference I attended in Kigali were there because they understand the influence that their leadership has on their schools and the students. Some had been asked to lead schools without having an educational background. Others expressed the need for additional support in fulfilling their responsibilities. If a school’s leadership is weak, then the school programming will suffer. At ICSV we are blessed to have such a strong administrative team. It is a pleasure to work with individuals for whom professional development is a priority. I have full confidence in the team’s integrity and expertise. At ICSV we have qualified administrators.

Nelson Mandela of South Africa is quoted as saying that “a good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special” (1995). At ICSV we understand the importance of excellence in education. We also know that in order to truly transform a student’s life, he or she must be taught in a caring environment by nurturing teachers who know how to meet the needs of every student. At ICSV we strive to meet not just the academic needs of the students, but to also develop within them a worldview that encourages service to others and living a life of integrity and respect.

Education for education’s sake is not the ultimate answer for today’s “learning crisis.” A school like ICSV where students are valued and empowered with truth and knowledge so that they can lead fruitful, productive lives is the type of environment that brings about transformation. At ICSV our desire is that every student will be transformed.

Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Director

Mandela, N. (1995). Long Walk to Freedom. Boston: Back Bay Books. Little, Brown and Company.

World Bank. 2018. World Development Report 2018: Learning to Realize Education’s Promise.
Washington, DC: World Bank. doi:10.1596/978-1-4648-1096-1. License: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0 IGO

Three Sister Bed

In my family there are three sisters. I am the youngest of the lot, with my oldest sister being born 17 years before I came on the scene. At one point in our lives, we talked about joining forces to open a Bed and Breakfast called “The Three Sisters.” We are all very different from each other, but if we combined our talents, we would be a force to reckon with.

I was reading a book about life and gardening called “Orchard House,” by Tara Austen Weaver. There I learned of the term “three sister bed.” She described it as a Native American tradition of companion planting, using beans, corn, and squash. The three very different plants each provide a needed element for a successful garden. They serve each other, making each one stronger. This concept reminded me of the importance of community and strong relationships.

Famous American preacher and writer, Charles Swindoll, put it this way. “Always dig a foxhole big enough for two.” A foxhole is that trench that soldiers dig in the ground to protect them against enemy fire. He is saying that it is not a good idea to find oneself all alone in the midst of war. There is no one there to help protect you, to work alongside you, and even to just understand what only you two could about what you are going through.

In Ecclesiastes 4, the writer finds himself lamenting being alone. He wrote, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

When I was just a baby, a family moved into the house on the other side of the church. (My father was a pastor, and so we lived in the parsonage at the church.) They had a tiny baby girl named Martha. Little did I realize that almost 60 years later, Martha and I would continue to be the closest of friends. She and her husband came to visit us to celebrate my 60th birthday. Even though we have not lived near each other since we lived side by side as infants, I know that I could count on Martha to be there for me through good times and bad. She is like a sister to me.

I have been fortunate for family and friends that I know are there for me. I pray that you, too, have those with whom you could build a “three sister bed” or dig a foxhole “big enough for two.” The three sister bed – what a wonderful example of how important it is for us to live together in community. For some it is literally family, like having three sisters. For others, it is a close-knit group of friends. And for those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we know that we will always have a “friend that sticks closer than a brother.” By being a part of the ICSV community, I can assure you that there are people here who care deeply for your children and your family. In a way, we are like the “three sister bed,” as we each use our special giftings to encourage each other and build each other up.

It is a blessing to be part of such an amazing school. I wish you a most wonderful 2019 as part of the ICSV community!

Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Director