In 2014, one of my students took me on a 30-minute bicycle ride to visit the slum which was right across the Yamuna river from my home. I was pleasantly surprised to find a 16-17 year old young man teaching a group of 20 or so poor kids in the open air. His students were seated on a narrow street. The class ended with those Hindu kids singing a Christian song for me. I invited the young teacher over for dinner.
His parents lived in a village over a 100 miles away. They sent him to the city because they believed that he will learn nothing in the government run village school. Qualified teachers take salaries but do not teach, specially not to the kids from the lower-castes. After the two of us became friends, he confided that he does not expect to pass his High School exam.
I invited him to move in with me. Ruth was here in California, looking after our granddaughter. I was serving as a Professor of Applied Theology and the Director of the Center for Human Resource Development in a Christian University in North India.
I started my friend on studying Math from KhanAcademy.com. The program was in English which he could read but not comprehend or speak. I helped him figure out how to use online dictionary and google Translate. Within days he fell in love with Math.
I got him a bicycle because he wanted to start an evening class in a poorer slum. There, women and children wove baskets and collected plastic bottle and other garbage. Men drank and gambled — at least in the evenings.
Together we studied whether God had promised to baptize his servant with a spirit of irrationality or with the Spirit of Truth — the Spirit of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, power and the fear of the Lord.
In 50 years of its existence the denomination had not built a single university, college or seminary. Most of the frontline pastors did not have high school diplomas. They loved the Lord, but their Christianity was an extension of anti-intellectualism that has defined American evangelicalism for over a century.
At the end of those five days, those leaders voted unanimously to not bother building a seminary or a university but to turn every local church into a center of hybrid education. Students will enroll in existing Christian Schools and universities but go to the local church to attend classes. The best professors will come to their churches — on line.
A professor who did not have to repeat the same lesson every year for 30 years, would have the time to create (or translate) online encyclopedia and dictionary. He will build a new ecosystem of kingdom-education.
In 2014, my slum-friend did not know that he had NOT been sent to me simply to learn computer, math, English, Bible and history. God had sent him to teach me how to transform slums and cities. I needed to learn how to disciple nations. While he was with me the Holy Spirit began to whisper in my heart that I ought to be in Germany in 2017 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
But the Lord did not listen: “Don’t be silly. I know that Germany has tons of theologians who are more qualified than you. They know much more than you about Luther and the Reformation. In 2017 every one of them will talk about Luther . . . But I am not looking for learned scholars. I need a fool who will remind German intellectuals that it was not Luther but my Word that reformed Europe.
The Lord continued, “You have written a few books . . . German translations are selling well . . . but you are not as smart as you think. You need to learn from German history how teaching my Word actually transformed nations.
“German theologians may be the best, but many of them don’t even believe that I built the Church to conquer the world . . . to break down the gates of hell . . . to set Satan’s captives free. You need to learn how my Church transformed nations that were as corrupt, poor, and oppressive as your slums are. Your colleagues cannot teach you how to transform your nation. You are an honorary professor, so was Martin Luther. For years he taught without taking a salary. He changed the world because he started the education revolution of which you are a product.
To cut a long story short, Ruth and I relocated to Germany. We agreed on a division of labor: Ruth will learn German — at least enough to shop. I will learn German history, especially how the Bible reformed it.
A 36-year old mom in Northwest USA picked up a stake knife and started attacking her six-year old son. The son, bleeding from multiple wounds, ran into the neighbor’s home crying, “my mother is killing me.”
The report that I read did not answer the question: “What’s going on.” So, I began looking at other reports. By the time I was reading the last news available online, I realized that not one report had said a single word about the father.
What would it be like for that celebrity if, for 14-months the baby does not allow her to have one full night of sleep? While she cannot earn and has to cope with the tantrums of a six-year old boy who is upset that she cannot take him out to play. The boy is angry because she spends all her time and energy with his sibling.
Perhaps, all that the boy needed was a dad who will take him out for a bicycle ride . . . . Or, may be he was craving for an ice cream but the mother had run out of food stamps. Perhaps, the boy had no one to teach him to pray, “Give us this day, our chocolate ice-cream.”
The culture taught the mother that the ‘father’ was a male who made a female pregnant: Okay! But can the university teach him that is he responsible to take care of the pregnant mother and of the babies in the womb and outside the womb?
The mother may have seen Rembrandt’s painting “The Return of the Prodigal Son” . . . but she could not have comprehended that classic of Western civilization if she did not read the Bible. Does a prodigal son deserve death or does he need repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation?
No science class can teach that poor mother what a father is. Feminist education cannot help her give a father to her children. Providing a father to your children is a tough job. It requires a mother to learn submission.
The culture has to educate students that being a Father does not give anyone the right to abet the murder of his own baby inside or outside the womb. It makes the father responsible to ‘give them their daily bread’ . . . to cultivate children’s moral stamina so that they can be delivered from temptations and find forgiveness when they sin. The Lord prayer would have taught the mother to forgive those who sin against her.
The American Church has the capacity to transform America. Our new book, “The Third Education Revolution” explains how that can be done.