The dust that had settled will soon be filling the air as large yellow and black buses travel the dusty roads of Oklahoma in search of students in need of a ride to school. Traffic on highways and byways has been thinner as parents and children have been absent from our thoroughfares. But with little notice, pupils will soon dominate morning rush hour and afternoon drive times.
Some will be excited to dust off the books and sharpen their pencils. Others will daydream of the lazy days of summer until the demands of class work capture their interest. Back to school signals that it is time to get back to business to everyone in the community.
Back to school time is one of the best times for churches to capture an opportunity to become a regular part of every student’s weekly schedule. Seeing students make the journey from the schoolhouse to God’s house is certain to bring eternal rewards.
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Education, 633,006 students attended school in 2007 at more than 1,800 school sites throughout Oklahoma. A recent review of the number of Southern Baptist congregations in Oklahoma indicates that at 1,754, there are nearly as many Southern Baptist houses of worship as there are schoolhouses throughout our state.
What might happen if every Oklahoma Southern Baptist church decided to seek ways to take an active role in serving the students, teachers and administrators at each of the local schools? There are more than 48,000 certified staff members, not including superintendents and principals, serving in our public school systems.
Many of these public servants make personal sacrifices to stay in Oklahoma in pursuit of their calling. Some even use personal funds to buy much needed supplies for their classrooms. Despite constant threats of a lack of funding, these heroes of learning consistently maintain attitudes and work ethics that rise above the dilemmas faced by nearly every school district. They continue to serve their students and meet educational needs despite the warnings that additional budget cuts may be inevitable.
If it were about the money, they would have chosen another profession years ago. But for most, it is about making a difference in the lives of the students who rarely recognize the investment that is being made in their lives, until some years later when a life lesson learned from a teacher who cared trickles to the front of the student’s consciousness. It is unsung moments like these that drive schoolteachers to prepare the lessons, push the chalk and grade the papers for yet another day. And for them, we are forever grateful.
As the 100-degree heat begins to subside and the back-to-school advertisements compete for our attention, we are asking every Oklahoma Southern Baptist church to give consideration as to how the church might find ways to volunteer and serve others through the local school system. When Oklahoma Baptists make up their minds to make a difference in the lives of those they touch, they will no doubt be appreciated. The interest they take in others will manifest itself in deeper relationships and opportunities to bring the schoolhouse and God’s house closer together in more ways than one.
For a county-by-county list of Oklahoma’s public schools, complete with contact information for local leaders, visit the Oklahoma State Department of Education Web site at http://sde.state.ok.us. The direct link for the downloadable PDF file is http://sde.state.ok.us/Services/Directory/pdf/3_PS.pdf. Give your local school a call today. Inquire as to how your church might be able to lighten the load of teachers and administrators in a significant way.