My mom, a public school teacher, often declared “I’m the only Jesus many of these children ever see.”  And she would remind my siblings and me that we were representing Christ to our classmates. Now as a parent, my husband and I have chosen to send our children to public school for the same reason. In making this decision, we have declared our children’s school to be our mission field.

Preparing our kids for school involves a lot more than buying pens, paper, and new shoes.  We invest a lot of time preparing them for their spiritual mission.  Every morning before getting up we encourage our kids to spend time with a personal devotional book and reading the Bible.  Breakfast includes a character-building story for kids and Bible verse to equip them for the day.  We spend time in prayer during the drive to school.  After school, the children take turns sharing something good that happened and something “not so good.”  We praise God for the good and discuss how the “not so good” could be improved.  Several nights a week we have a Bible study after dinner.  They are later tucked into bed with prayer.

At the beginning of the school year I ask the teacher how I can be involved in the classrooms.  I play games at parties, read with children and help administer reading tests, volunteer at the school carnival, and make copies for the teachers.  When I had a baby at home and could not be as involved at the school, I stuffed treat bags at home for parties, cut out projects for the teachers, and coordinated help for school events.   By establishing a relationship with my children’s teachers and the other students, I earn trust.  During small interactions with the students I look them in the eye to praise them for their hard work.  I have listened and prayed with teachers during difficult times.

We have had to learn about bullies, kids asking to cheat on tests, bad language and immodesty.   I’m thankful that my children communicate their struggles with us and it has directed much of our Bible study during the year.  Together, we read what Scripture says about friends who gossip about us, why we don’t watch the latest violent movie and why we should be honest about our school work.  Our children are learning how to share their faith and values and have invited other kids to church with them.

Public school can have negative influences but is rich in opportunities to show Christ to our kids’ teachers and classmates.  After all, we may be the only Jesus they see.

I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.

John 17:15-17

What is your family’s mission and how do you prepare your children to live out the Gospel?