(The following blog post by Man Up and Go CEO Jeff Ford is the second in a series of six highlighting our Theory of Change.)
“Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.”
In a way only satirist and author Mark Twain could communicate it, I suppose he’s right. Twain’s comment affirms the biblical reality, which is that people have a penchant for thinking they’re always right. Proverbs 12:15 tells us “A fool is right in his own eyes,” and 28:26 says that “those who trust in themselves are fools.” It seems, then, that if we truly want to grow as individuals and as collective communities, we must “unlearn” the propensity to trust in ourselves and, when appropriate, allow others to bring us to a higher level of understanding.
EDUCATE THE NEXT GENERATION
This is why Man Up and Go has incorporated the second of six strategies (see our Theory of Change) in our fight for the fatherless around the globe: to EDUCATE THE NEXT GENERATION. As Christians, we believe that the mind of man is corrupted (Genesis 3, 1 Timothy 6:5). Much like a digital virus that infects the way a computer performs, the sin of man corrupts our ability to understand everything. Because of this, a strong emphasis must be placed on education, so that we may, as Romans 12:2 instructs, “be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind.”
Of course, this begs the question – If our minds are corrupted, then how do we know we’re not just educating the next generation on how to be equally corrupt? C.S. Lewis shared this concern when he wrote, “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” Fair enough. This is why we affirm the following creed regarding education, as put forth by one denomination, which states:
Christianity is the faith of enlightenment and intelligence. In Jesus Christ abide all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. All sound learning is, therefore, a part of our Christian heritage. The new birth opens all human faculties and creates a thirst for knowledge. Moreover, the cause of education in the Kingdom of Christ is coordinate with the causes of missions and general benevolence, and should receive along with these the liberal support of the churches. An adequate system of Christian education is necessary to a complete spiritual program for Christ’s people.
Paul wrote in Colossians that full assurance of our understanding in life comes from God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” In light of this, we believe that when one comes to saving faith (i.e., has a ‘new birth’ in Christ), a thirst for knowledge occurs as we pursue Christ, because we understand that He exists as the treasury of knowledge who alone can satisfy our thirstiness. We can trust this knowledge because it comes from the Uncorrupted One, the one who “knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21), therefore we can have confidence as we pass it along to others.
To be clear, “knowledge” is not merely a list of facts. Knowledge is not only intelligence. The knowledge of which we speak has its tentacles in every facet of life, including moral knowledge and the discernment to make good decisions; we might place these knowledges under a banner called “wisdom.” This is the wisdom of which James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). If our children learn all about astronomy and mathematics and biology but promote strife and hostility in or outside the classroom, what good is it? It should go without saying that teaching benevolence towards our fellow man must be part of a child’s education, lest partiality, hypocrisy, and a lack of good fruits take the luster off how many facts they’ve learned.
This is why we’re so honored to be part of God’s work at the Bethel Junior School in the slum area of Masese III (Jinja, Uganda). In 2011 when Man Up and Go first visited Masese, only a plot of land existed where now a thriving Christian education is being provided to over 130 students and employing 12 locals. When you walk the community of Masese now and speak with single mothers and widows whose children attend Bethel, you start to understand that the impact is truly incalculable. The overflow of gratitude and sincerity of heart when speaking with these women will change a person forever.
Christian education, however, doesn’t stop at the school door. It’s a way of life. And life, for Ugandans, stops around age 50 (the average age in Uganda is only 15 years old). Since we believe that life is given to us by God (Job 33:4), it is God who compels us to promote life – long life – and we believe dying at 50 leaves many good years on the table. This is why we want to see developing nations like Uganda receive quality health care education as well. Much of this is done in the classroom, but far too many parents and children are succumbing to AIDS and suffering with malaria or other treatable diseases, especially in rural locations.
To combat this, we’ve partnered with Kerith Ministries in rural eastern Uganda to construct and staff a health clinic to meet a critical need in that area (this was completed earlier this year). The clinic, then, allows Kerith’s staff of nurses to treat and educate the villagers in basic hygiene and health, but also promote the “general benevolence” we believe Christ encourages His people to do towards others. And yes, the staff are believers who are able to share the Gospel, for what does good health profit any of us if we lose our own souls (Mark 8:36)?
Bethel Junior School and Kerith Health Clinic are just two of several examples we could give of how we’re using education to change a generation. These are critical initiatives for us and I’m only scratching the surface with the impact they’re having on our beneficiaries. But hopefully I’m conveying the big idea of this 2nd strategy in our Theory of Change, which is this – that Man Up and Go passionately desires to educate the next generation, and in doing so, we believe it will mitigate the number of fatherless as these children grow into men and women. Equally important, I pray you see that this passion comes from our belief that Christ is the Giver of Life, the Holder of Knowledge, and in Him human beings have everything they need to navigate life (1 Peter 1:3), including fighting for the fatherless.