Are Others "Safe" to Talk with You?

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She's considering homeschooling. She's attended a few convention sessions and has been encouraged. But she's also terrified.

"I didn't realize this was a religious thing," she confides to me. "I..." she hesitates, visibly distraught.

"It's okay," I reassure her. "I can handle it."

She falters again before the story spills out of her like an overturned glass of milk. She comes from a religious cult that tore her family apart. After that, she gave up on religion. She's beginning to consider it again, but is afraid that her curriculum options will be too ... aggressive for her and her son. She's a single mom. She doesn't know what to do.

I feel tears welling up behind my eyes. I want to sit down with her for hours and talk about everything: Religion, Jesus, homeschooling, the Bible, healing, philosophy, relationships. But there isn't time. She's been glancing at her watch, anxious not to miss the next convention speaker. I've got maybe three minutes to tell her everything she needs to know before she's gone.

"Sonlight is a Christian company," I tell her. "We schedule Bible reading and memorization." I point to the Instructor's Guide sample before her. "This could be an excellent way for you and your son to get started with religion again. The Bible's a great place to begin, and you're just reading. Plus, with Sonlight, we want to educate, not indoctrinate. We want you to learn and talk through with your son what you believe and why. We don't want to beat you over the head with what you 'have to believe or else.'"

She nods and cracks a half smile.

I continue. "And the great thing about homeschooling is that we get to learn along with our children. You can do this! We're here to help if you ever have any questions. Homeschooling is such a great option. May you and your son be blessed as you enjoy learning together this year."

Another glance at her watch and she thanks me before walking off.

I take a deep breath.

My heart is still trying to chase her down, to assure her, to share with her the love and grace of Christ, to extend to her the offer of redemption, to encourage her to walk the difficult road of homeschooling ahead of her. Instead, my eyes fill with tears again as a smile plays on my lips. There's something very bittersweet about the privilege of talking to homeschoolers. I pray that my few words were what she needed to hear.

Sonlight: A missions-minded, Christian curriculum that also happens to be, in my biased opinion, the best option for those who don't find themselves inside mainstream Evangelicalism. Why? Because we value being winsome ambassadors for Christ. We strive to educate, not indoctrinate. We seek to see the world through God's eyes: Individuals and communities, dearly loved, in desperate need of grace and good news. And, ironically, I think that sets us up to be the "safest" to talk with. That means we don't isolate ourselves even if that would be "safer" for us. Rather, like Christ, we seek to be friends with sinners and believers alike... even if the religious around us would balk at the idea.

Has Sonlight's emphasis on missions changed your view of the world?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

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Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad
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10 Responses to Are Others "Safe" to Talk with You?

  1. Paula says:

    We used Sonlight for the first time last year, and while we've always used Christian curriculum, this first year using Sonlight affected me deeply. We are too comfortable here in America sometimes, but we too need to be ready to take a stand for Christ. I want my children to grow up knowing what Christians around the world, our brothers and sisters have faced, and are facing now, what we ourselves may one day face.

  2. Luke says:

    Amen, Paula. May we follow God wherever He leads us, following the example of Christ and the "great cloud of witnesses" who have gone before us.

    ~Luke

  3. Kathryn says:

    I wouldn't say Sonlight's emphasis on missions has changed our life, but rather that Sonlight's heart for the world makes it the perfect curriculum for us. Our interests and values are very closely aligned with yours. It would probably be enough that Sonlight does such a great job of choosing outstanding books and providing detailed schedules to save me all that time and effort. But your emphasis on seeing the world through Christ's eyes makes Sonlight invaluable to us. And Luke, your response to the woman you shared about in this post is a beautiful example of Sonlight's heart. May the Lord use your kindness to her--and to all of us--to accomplish his purposes.

  4. Luke says:

    Amen! Thanks for sharing this, Kathryn.

    ~Luke

  5. Melissa Kunz says:

    Because of the mission books, I answered the call for a two-week missionary trip to Peru last summer. It was exhausting and wonderful and eye-opening. You hear about the extreme poverty that the majority of the world faces, but it's just so hard for us to comprehend. Seeing it face-to-face was both heart-wrenching and inspiring. These people had so little, yet they praised God without ceasing. Many times, what they shared with us (example, a chicken for chicken soup) meant a large sacrifice for the family.

    Towards the end of Core B last year, my younger daughter said she feels she is being called to translate the Bible to a Bible-less people. A week later, we had an opportunity with our homeschool group to visit the Wycliff here in Dallas. The connections we were able to make with what we had just read in Core B kept me on the mountaintop for days! We saw the New Testament that Joanne Shetler translated. Suddenly, it wasn't just something we read about, but the tangible proof of twenty years of hard work. We saw the record player that we read about in Catching Their Talk in a Box. We saw artifacts from some of the people groups we read about in Window on the World. After listening to the lady's talk, my 14-yr old daughter (Core 100 this year) became interested in attending one of Wycliff's two-week missionary trips next summer.

    I would say that Sonlight's emphasis on missions has definitely changed my family's view of the world!

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  7. Luke says:

    Wow, thanks so much for sharing this, Melissa! Very encouraging. And have you seen the amazing advances that The Seed Company--an offshoot of Wycliffe--has made in Bible translation? If I recall correctly, what used to take 50 years has been transformed so they can now translate a Bible into a new language in as few as 7. Exciting!

    ~Luke

    • Melissa Kunz says:

      I don't remember her mentioning The Seed Company specifically. However, she did show us the technological advances from the cardboard record player to the computer programs and the power they use for the computers in the jungle. She did mention that it only takes about 7 years now. I couldn't believe how much time they had shaved off! The use of technological advances to send the Word of God to people easier was an application I hadn't considered.

      Thank you for all the missionary books. I'm reading Peace Child to my 9th-grader right now. We are enjoying it and marveling that Don Richardson trusted in God so much that he took his wife and baby to work with cannibalistic, headhunting tribes. My daughter keeps saying, "Is he crazy?! Does he know they fatten people with friendship?!"

      • Luke says:

        Technology can be such a powerful tool. And, yes: There is a certain amount of crazy faith in some of the missionary biographies, to be sure <smile>. But that makes it all the more inspiring! May we have faith to follow God wherever He leads us.

        ~Luke

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