Unbeknownst to us, Siah has been taking his Bible to school. He leaves it on his desk and reads it at break times. I think he sometimes takes it to recess and reads it there — or plays “Bible study” with some of his friends. We learned about all of this yesterday, when he let us know that one of the high-level administrators in the school had been visiting his classroom, pointed at the Bible on his desk and said, “I think this one [the Bible] has to stay at home!” Siah said he responded nonchalantly, “Okay,” and kept bringing his Bible because he knew we had told him about his right to take the Bible, read it, and talk about his faith as long as it was in a way that did not disrupt the teacher’s efforts to educate the kids.
As his parents, and with the awareness that he is SO YOUNG, our instinct is to call the school, visit with the principal, and otherwise protest this in a big way to get heavy handed authority figures to lay off of him. But the fact is that we are equipping them to be missionaries to the next generation. There’s not a lot of bold, not-ashamed-of-the-gospel-of-Christ Christians out there — adults or kids. I want our kids to be counted among them. And there’s no better way to learn than in a public school where persecution is inevitable, and will look a lot like what he’s going to face in the real world, once his childhood is over. We won’t be there to help him then. So rather than run interference for him and protect him from these kind of things, I think the best thing we can do is let him be exposed to them, figure out how he’s going to respond, and serve the role of the church in his life — encouraging him to continue persevering and standing for the faith. That’s what it’s like when he grows up — the church encourages and strengthens you, backs you up, but on any given day you’re out there facing temptation, persecution, and trials on your own.
So we helped him figure out how to respond — it’s not helpful for him to directly confront the authority figure. Even if he’s right, it’s perceived as disrespect because he’s so young and because people don’t expect kids to be so confident in what they believe. It’s also not helpful, though, to respond “Okay” when he doesn’t agree because it sounds like he agrees and won’t bring his Bible any more when in fact he doesn’t agree and will continue to bring his Bible. So we suggested that if someone says he can’t bring his Bible he respond with something like, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that. My parents told me I could. Would you like to call them?”
We also talked through what it would look like if it actually was wrong for him to take his Bible to school. Even if he wasn’t allowed to, we would encourage him to if he wanted to. There is nothing more important, more valuable, more powerful than the Word of God and the Name of Jesus. I told him about people in other countries who are not allowed to believe in Jesus or read the Bible — they carry their Bibles in secret, and if they get caught with them they will be killed! But it doesn’t change that they stand boldly for what they believe. And we do the same in the face of persecution. We don’t abandon what we believe and what we stand for just because someone threatens us if we do.
It reminds me of Daniel’s three friends — Shadrach, Mishach and Abednego. When they refused to bow down to the king’s statue/idol in the presence of over a million other subjects bowing down…they STOOD for what they believed despite the incredible pressure to do otherwise. That wasn’t the first time they stood for their faith. You can’t have that kind of boldness and strength to stand unless you’ve practiced standing in much smaller instances over time. I told Siah this was an opportunity for him to practice standing. If he wants to have the kind of boldness and miracle-working faith that the three dudes had, then he has to practice that kind of boldness and faith now. Stand in the little things and you can stand in the big things.
We haven’t had a chance yet to see if Siah will be challenged again or how he’ll respond. I suspect it will happen at some point — we’ve faced this a couple times now since the kids have been in school. In the meantime, I couldn’t emphasize to him enough how proud we are of him for loving God so much that he wants to read His Word at school, for bringing his Bible to school, and for boldly standing for what he believes even in the face of opposition from authority figures.