Mail Room (Sep-Oct 2002)

By Matt Dabbs

New Wineskins articles too studious

Dear editor,

I was a subscriber before the Wineskins organizational change; I found articles in every issue that not only made me think, but also spurred me on to do good works. In my opinion, the New Wineskins articles have become too studious. When I have to work to absorb the information, it means the article is written for someone other than me. Although I am a lay person, I have spent my adult life teaching classes and studying to prepare for them, so I consider myself more than a novice student. I believe you are targeting a different audience than the old magazine was. If not, I would appreciate more motivation and fewer articles that sound like doctoral thesis presentations. Thanks for you magazine’s spirit.

Yours in Christ,
— Ron Haker

Former missionary and educator calls for social justice through public education

Dear editor,

I read with interest your issue on justice. As a missionary living in a third world country (South Korea from 1958 – 1974), I experienced firsthand the aftermath of war, the resulting poverty, and need for social justice. Missiologists speak of the “social lift” that often comes with Christianity. This seems particularly evident in South Korea which in a few short years became the most Christian nation in the Orient and, at the same time, has emerged as a world leader with a standard of living equal to that of the United States.

Jesus’ mission was to seek and save the lost, but he punctuated that mission with concern for the weak, the sick, and the disenfranchised. Certainly as his followers, we can do no less. Your issue focused on ways in which the church and individual Christians can be involved with those who need justice. However, there was one area that was lacking in the issue and one in which, I believe, Christians can and should be actively involved.

Social lift and social justice cannot come without education. While American public schools are perhaps the best in the world, they are not all equal. Inner city schools are often very poor. Buildings are rundown and overcrowded. There is little money for books and equipment. They are frequently staffed with poor teachers. Drugs and violence are part of the culture and dropouts are the norm. Ironically, many of these are just blocks away from the communities in which we live and educate our own children.

How did such inequality in education come about? It began when the law mandated integration, and white parents fled to the suburbs and/or opened private schools. Sadly, Christians not only joined exodus but often led the way. I would suggest that Christians need to be involved in improving public education as a means of social justice. I have spent the last twenty-five years at a Christian university, preparing teachers for public schools. I have urged them to see themselves as Christian change agents in the schools in which they teach, and I have witnessed firsthand the difference that they make in the lives of children and the culture of the schools.

Today, however, the trend is for Christians, if possible, to leave public education. Christian schools and home schooling, for example, have become ways in which Christian parents attempt to provide a protected environment for their children. In doing so, they often forget the need to be “in the world but not of the world.”

I believe Christians need to become active stakeholders in public schools, as parents, school board members, administrators, teachers, and volunteers. As such, they can help bring about equality—and quality—in education that will not only benefit their children but also empower the poor to help themselves.

— Joyce F. Hardin, Ed.D.
Dripping Springs, Texas

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1583 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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