I remember it as though it was last week, but it was a day in March about 60 years ago. My Dad had a sheep flock of about 30 ewes in addition to a dairy cowherd and some beef cows. That March day was sunny and warm, so Dad put the ewes and their lambs in a meadow to take advantage of such a day. Late that afternoon a snowstorm quickly swept through the valley, the same place where I now live. After milking the cows, Dad and I hustled to bring the sheep back to the barn in what seemed like blizzard conditions to a 10-year old boy.
After the sheep were safe in the barn we counted and found that one lamb was missing. We went back to the field, about 0.3 mile away, and found the week-old lamb, appearing to be half asleep, in some tall grass near a fence. The lamb was already covered with snow. Left in the field alone the lamb would have had little chance to survive the night because the nutrients in that lamb’s digestive system would be used up, and such a young one would not survive the cold night without the mother’s milk. We took the rescued lamb back to the barn and it did survive.
My Dad had some smarts about caring for young vulnerable sheep. He was smart enough to know he had no control over the weather, but he did have some control over his flock of sheep, specifically how to care for them during severe weather. Now these 60 years later, I too know something about what I can do to help my flock of sheep. I have some of the same challenges, but one in particular, is different. Coyotes did not live in this area 60 years ago, but there are plenty here now.
I have spent most of my adult life observing, reading and studying how children in America are being trained. And I have spent the past 29 years raising sheep. At times I am literally overwhelmed with the parallels between lambs and children, meaning that I see clear, concise realities about how we fail our children. Let me be clear; it is the “how we fail our children” part that overwhelms me.
During the entire year I keep a focus in the back, if not the forepart, of my brain…and the focus is ALWAYS on the YOUNG sheep. I plan the breeding season so the young lambs will be born during a favorable time. I manage the pasture, hay, and minerals in the winter for the ewes in a manner that will be best for milk production from the ewes after they lamb in April, which will in turn be best for the lamb. I plan the breeding season in such a way that birth of the lambs will be under conditions that best foster proper bonding between the ewe and her lamb. I could go on and on through the entire life of the lamb, but I trust that you get the point without all the details.
My Dad knew the probable outcome of lambs in a cold, harsh environment without the life-giving milk they so badly need when they are very young. I have a PhD in Animal Science, but Dad’s common sense was all he needed. I can’t control the weather any more than my Dad could, but just like his common sense wisdom, I can exercise some control over the environment where my lambs spend their early days.
I don’t have direct control over the coyotes that roam the mountains and valleys here, but I do have some control over where my lambs spend their time. Would a person with all his mental faculties in tact believe that the way to protect the lambs from coyotes would be to plan and conduct some elaborate scheme to train the coyotes to lie down with the lambs, and not eat them? Obviously the coyote cannot be trained to do that. In a like manner public schools will never be changed into places for children to obtain Christian based training. For emphasis, let me put it in other words: Public schools will never become places where our young children can receive solid, comprehensive Christ-centered training, just as coyotes can never be trained to lie down with young lambs and not devour them. We do prefer Christ-centered training, right?
When Dad counted the sheep and found one missing, he didn’t close the barn door, say a prayer for the lost lamb, and then go to the house to eat supper in the warm house. Neither should I. Neither should you. Neither should your Christian friends. Neither should your pastor. But, you know what? I have heard people say that is how they handle the government school problem. They say a prayer and shut the door as their child ventures out into an environment that is hostile to God and therefore very hostile to all children. Does that perhaps work for some families? Absolutely. Does that sound like something we should recommend for the masses? Absolutely not, and that is why Christians need to be proactive about providing biblically based education five days a week. The school desks have already been rearranged on the government Titanic too many times.
We can’t control all the storms that will assail our children. We can’t spoon-feed them every bite they take. However, we need to be wise enough to realize that we have a responsibility to provide the best environment possible to care for them while they are very young. I have to ask; what are big church buildings for, some of them multimillion-dollar complexes? Are they for adults to go in each week to be fed? Why, so they can get fat? Could they also be used for school children Monday through Friday?
I hate to put it this way, but most Christians don’t get it! Pew-sitters don’t get it and pastors don’t get it, and most people who direct high-profile national Christian family oriented ministries don’t get it either. Wake up America, this is not happy days circa 1950s. New management is necessary for rearing our children in the Monday through Friday time slot. Christians need to lead the culture, not follow it. Christians need to set an example for what is quality, God honoring training for the precious young children God has placed under our care so they can become disciples of Jesus Christ to take the Good News to the world. We have lambs to rescue.
Sometimes I think we are living in la la land, strolling along as if on a sunny Sunday afternoon walk in the park, completely oblivious, having absolutely NO CLUE as to what is happening in our culture, our world, and our Church. Would your church leaders, directed by the pastor, allow a member of the ACLU to stand in the pulpit to spew some Marxist ideology to the adult pew-sitters some Sunday morning? Pastors are even afraid to let Christians with a slightly different believe system get in the sacred pulpit, so it would be ludicrous to think an atheist ACLU member would be allowed to speak in a Sunday morning service. The answer is no, the pastor would not let someone like that in the pulpit, but Marxist ideology is precisely what is being given to our innocent and vulnerable children five days a week in government schools. Answer this question: If you had a choice as an adult, would you rather sit and listen to a Marxist, or have your children sit at the feet of that type instructor?
Where is the common sense like that a sheepherder would use, to protect and care for our young by providing a proper environment? Honestly, every one of us, all who claim to be Christian, should be ashamed of ourselves for continuing this charade. We build huge edifices so we adults can be comfortable while leaving our lambs out in the raging storms. And we call it spreading the Gospel and worshipping God! If we want to spread the Gospel, let us first disciple our own children. Why not focus on the very young while they are under our care so they won’t fall through the religious cracks at an 80 percent rate like we currently encounter?
The Elephant in the Middle of the Sanctuary – Why Pastors Ignore the Dangers of Public Schools
Part 1 -Outline
Part 2 – What will Christians Do About the 20:80 Ratio?
Part 3 – Truth Versus Tradition
Part 4 – In Defense of Pastors