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By Andrea Johnson

I was upset. The staff at our children’s elementary school wanted to go to year-round schooling and I hated the thought. Children need their summer break; they need time to just be kids! Parents need time to schedule vacations! What about teachers who have kids in other schools? How would they work out their schedules? How would childcare directors staff for the different school calendars?

My husband and I were certainly going to attend the parent meeting and let our voices be heard. I mean, what a dumb idea!

Then as I was visiting with one of the teachers after school, she happened to ask if we were going to be at the parent meeting that week. When I responded in the affirmative, she looked relieved and said, “Good! It will be nice to see some friendly faces.” Apparently we weren’t the only ones opposed to year-round school, and she knew there would be confrontation. (Yet she considered us the “friendly” ones!)

I was taken aback by her response. I was ready to “do battle” for my children, but I hadn’t considered the fact that the teachers would be caught in the crossfire. I liked our kids’ teachers. In my mind I was battling the “school’s control,” and yet the “school” was made up mostly of people I appreciated, people who cared about my children and were doing their best to educate them. I would never purposely disrespect them or want to make their jobs harder. Needless to say, when the meeting time came around, I made every effort to do a lot of listening and to ask my questions in a calm, respectful manner.

Our school administrators were not my enemy. We were on the same team fighting for our kids. Once I listened, I could see that – even though we may have had different approaches to how to make that happen. 

Have you noticed the combativeness in our nation right now? We need to remember that “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world” (Ephesians 6:12, NLT). We are not battling our schools. Nor are we battling our governing leaders.  

What if we looked at our communities in a different manner, as if we were on the same team? There are people who are open to our help, especially if we come to them with a servant’s heart. Just as a healthy church functions as one body (1 Corinthians 12), couldn’t a healthy community do the same? What if churches worked side by side WITH our schools and city government leaders? What if church members were fasting and praying for their communities and the first to sign up to help?

In this issue we read about several pastors who lead churches that are doing just that. Peter Shandakwa has managed to form congregations that serve their communities whether in a refugee camp in Kenya or a Congolese community in Iowa. Dan Powell has formed a network that reaches across the community of Riverside, Ohio, working alongside other city leaders such as the school superintendent and the city mayor. Ray Robinette is effecting change in the impoverished city of Aberdeen, Washington. 

The Church has a place among other community leaders, not as judge or adversary, but as fellow servants.

About The Author

Andrea Johnson
Managing Editor

In her spare time you will most likely find Andrea Johnson with family or friends, or outdoors hiking. She and her husband, Dennis, are blessed with four children and five grandchildren.