For those who do not know Ray Bakke is what might be called the grandfather of Urban Ministry…Especially to those of us who are white. He has recently written a new book called “Street Signs” which I have just begun to read, but as always happens when I read a Ray Bakke book (”A Theology as Big as the City” was life changing for me) it is resonating with me. Here are some quotes and thoughts:
“On God’s green earth, white people only comprise 13 percent of the population…I believe if you are a white parent with white kids and you haven’t taught then to live as a minority within the earth’s population you have done them a disservice. You haven’t prepared your children for a world reality”
I could not agree more than that. While we only have one child in school right now throughout her first two years she has always been one of only a few white kids in her class. I believe that this is good for her. If fact I would have it no other way. I believe that on a social level and a mission readiness level this will give her a huge head start. Beyond that I believe that she will have better insight into truly understanding the message of the gospel if her perspective in not limited to only her home culture, and its blind spots. (This is what I refer to as Dalmatian Christianity…Dalmatians become sicklier the more pure bred they become, the same is true for the faith, when our perspective is limited so is needed correction.) While my daughter will not likely ever have to understand what it truly means to be a minority (she is still white and no matter the student demographics, and whether white folk like to hear it or not, that still affords her privilege in our society) I hope at least that God will use this to prepare her.
“We discovered that the inner-city was the safest place to raise our kids spiritually in America…In those days the kids and I were always asked to pray at sporting events and Banquets. As a help to our kid’s schools, [my wife] and I worked as volunteer teachers. Our belief was, if you put your kids in an inner-city school, you should go with them as volunteers.”
What a joy it is for me to know that James Dobson and the Home School Mafia do not have the corner on Christian though and education. What Bakke speaks of is what my parents, and now my wife and I practiced, and frankly I would put the results up against even the best of home schooling (which is not to say that home schooling is not sometimes a valid choice.) Bakke has 3 children, one teaches, another was recruited by Harvard and is working on his doctorate as the only white student at Howard Divinity school and another is a case worker for an agency in Chicago. But the most common thread is that all are living for Jesus. Similarly my parents raised five children in a public school and all of us follow Jesus. The concept is basic and speaks to a hypocrisy that Christians sometimes have when they speak of education and family it is this: Does parenting matter or not, it would seem that most argue that it does…in fact some argue that it may even be most important (I agree by the way). If however this is true it then it is foolish and hypocritical to blame urban educators where 75 percent (or more) of students come from single parent homes form their performance. And if parenting does matter than, home schooling is not what is needed but rather home education. Education in how to live like a Christ follower in this world, how to resist pressure (rather than trying to hide from it, which frankly is usually a disaster waiting to happen), how to make friends and influence them and not vise versa, a Christ following parent can do this if they dare take the risk, and the result can be amazing. We can educate our children at home and yet send them to do kingdom work in the schools.