In America, Christian schools are a ministry or outreach of the church. We all raise our kids KNOWING they are going to school somewhere. Most of us have choices. We don't worry about whether they will get to go this year. We don't have to decide which two get to go and which two stay at home. We don't work half the year to try to save enough money to be able to send just one of them. We don't consider the impossible choice of putting one of our children in an orphanage or worse yet send one to a distant city to essentially work as a slave so we will have resources to at least educate one. We don't usually place all our families' future and hope on the possibility that one educated child might somehow change it all.
In Haiti, mission schools are the backbone of many churches. The schools themselves are a tangible sign of God's remembrance of the mountain people. The school gives the church members hope in Jesus. It makes their faith alive in a difficult world. It is not simply one of many options for school. It is not simply a source of knowledge. Over the last 50 years the illiteracy rate has dropped from 98% to under 50%. 80% of all kids educated during that time went to mission schools. The generation that are now parents were the first generation to truly see education become a possibility. For the ones educated, they want nothing less for their kids. For the ones that just never quite got to go, they dream of all their kids actually getting to go to at least sixth grade.
That integral connection of school and faith has been instrumental in the strides Christianity has made in Haiti. The education system has been far from stellar. The quality of the education has often times been poor. In spite of this, the impact the Christian education system has had is tangible. That may all be changing.
The government, under the weight of external powers, is pushing to do away with mission schools and implement public education as the dominant model. On the surface that seems great. Free education for all. How perfect is that! Just what we always wanted! Well, not exactly. Free doesn't mean free after all. What about the mandatory uniforms, shoes, books, and even socks that are required? Many still can't afford that. But let's dream for a moment that it was truly going to be completely free. Education totally ran by the Haitian government. Take it from someone who has spent WAY too much time in Haitian government offices, there is not a lot they have done well. Yet we say what a great idea to let them be responsible for developing ALL our children. Does that make sense?
If I were a secular socialist, I would be fighting and clawing to get this done. It has worked in the U.S. Show me one area of influence the church surrendered to society that has done more to foster secularism than public schools. I am not simply arguing for Christian school. My kids go to public school at the moment. I am just making the point that if missions give up on mission education in Haiti, one generation from now social secularism mixed with voodoo influence will dominate the mindset of the public school product and fifty years of fighting for a culture influenced by a Christian worldview will be lost.
Those of you thinking, "I ain't got a dog in that fight..." might need to consider expanding your view of God's Kingdom beyond your borders. The hearts of kids are at stake. Consider supporting a ministry that educates kids in Haiti. I just left Baptist Haiti Mission and they have over 68,000 kids they support in school. Due to these new forces, that may have to change if people don't step up to help. It would't take much for you to "have a dog in the fight" and make a difference...it's up to you.