We are currently facing many difficulties with the students in our discipleship-based school program. The general attitude in our poverty-stricken rural neighborhood is one stained with a deep sense of laziness, ingratitude, self-pity and dishonesty, all of which is brought onto our property daily as the students pass through our gates.
Weekly we face many instances of cheating, blatant disrespect and/or a total refusal to complete basic assignments, and many times when we look for healthy ways to discipline/correct such behavior the students´ parents come to their rescue, defending and justifying their children´s dishonesty and laziness. Sometimes the family members even accuse us, and in one instance a student´s family got the local educational authorities involved to come against us because we are determined to hold honest, just standards in this culture of complicity that only breeds more ignorance and evil-doing. This is very frustrating and saddening for us, and it makes for long and sometimes seemingly unfruitful days.
Just this morning my husband and I had to rearrange our plans last-minute and go make three personal house visits to talk with certain students and their parents after having confronted a severe situation of cheating/lying/scoffing. Likewise, we have other students who simply don´t come to school or their moms send notes to the teacher saying their child is sick when in fact they aren´t (that happened this morning as well.)
Please pray for us during this continued period of discernment/learning as we are still in our first 4-5 months of our first school year with these programs and students. All of our local students come from the public school system where they were accostumed to missing as many days of school as they wanted, cheating with zero consequence, and passing their grade no matter the effort given because the Honduran government has declared that all students must pass their grade whether they actually learned anything or not. (There are thousands of cases nationwide each year of students who at the end of the school year have earned a 30% or 60%, etc, but the teacher is forced to write ¨70%¨ on the report card and pass the unprepared, lazy child onto the next grade). That system produces, as we know too well, students who are 15 or 18 years old in 7th grade who still don’t know the times tables and don’t understand why it might be important to learn them.
So, please pray with and for us, that we may be granted a right view of these cultural ills and thus know how to inculcate a genuine sense of self-discipline, punctuality, responsibility, truth-telling, dogged work ethic, etc, in these students who are accostumed to the exact opposite. Furthermore, may our Father grant us the perseverance and wisdom to not become discouraged or too caught-up in certain details that, eternally viewed, do not matter as much as our daily labor of sharing God’s Word with the students, loving and guiding them according to His good will, and praying with and for them.
It is a very fine line, because if we implement the godly discipline we believe in and know to be very healthy for rebellious, lost youth, we would currently be left very likely with only one or two students (because the rest would have stormed out or been expelled). On the other hand, if we are too flexible and ¨understanding,¨ very quickly everything becomes permissible and we fall prey to the same evil that plagues the public schools.
Just this morning two of our teen boys from primary school expelled themselves after having reached their fifth strike, a very reasonable discipline system we have put in place to protect both ourselves and our students from contaminating our home/mission with an attitude of uncurbed rebellion. Prior to being expelled their general attitude was deeply marked by a defiant laziness, too many unexcused tardies, cheating during exams (and laughing when getting caught…and then yelling at us and accusing us of being unfair for not having let them cheat), and disrespectful attitudes, oftentimes proclaiming to their teacher that they wouldn’t be coming back the next day because our school is ¨too strict.¨
I share these frustrations so that you may go before the Lord with us in search of the answers.
A handful of students in both primary and secondary are truly succeeding in our program, are actively absorbing God’s Word as it is presented to them, and are in the beautiful beginning stages of being transformed by their knowledge of the Truth. Let us give thanks to God for the receptivity and work ethic of these students, and may the Lord continue to protect them against attacks from the enemy. May His will be done in and among us, and may He continue to guide us with all wisdom, justice and love as we seek to earnestly shepherd the rogue youth He has brought to us for His glory. Amen!