When we came back to Baltimore after time on the mission field, we had a painful breakup with our home church, which happened to be situated in a suburban area. With that transition, our attention became even more focused on our city. When we sought the Lord on the offers to work full time in China and the Philippines, one of the things God said to us was, "I have more training for you back home." We weren't sure what that training would look like or who would be our teacher. Looking back, I see now that God Himself became our teacher and our training ground became Baltimore and a missional house church community He placed in our lives.
We rolled up our sleeves and with open palms we would pray prayers like, "Use us Jesus, how you want to use us. Grow our faith. Show us Your heart for this city and help us to serve our neighbors and this community in a way that brings You honor and fame." I realize now, He had more dismantling to do in our lives in order for us to see, really see this city.
When we were sent on the foreign mission field, we had our comfort removed when we sold our home and lived in one room with four kids. We had our cultural perspectives shaken when we were living with people from eleven other nations for half a year in a different county. Even my identity as a homemaker was rattled when I had no permanent place to call home, no place to decorate, to make beautiful, no place for hospitality to be offered the way I was accustomed. Our dependence on finances had been shaken and readjusted. We were living by faith that year in a way we never had. We depended on God to meet our every need and He met every single one of them in miraculous and God-sized ways. We watched $30,000 be provided in three months for our family to answer this call.
When we came back to Baltimore, I assumed what needed to be stripped away had been completed. Little did I know, it was just the beginning. Over the next seven years, God continued to deconstruct other false idols and truths we had accepted as His. He continued to show us that we can lay down our rights, but it's another thing entirely to even lay down our "right" to "be right".
I thought, "It's our right to a good education." Right?
This is one area He addressed in those years.
When we left for the mission field, I embarked on the journey of homeschooling. To say that I'm a reluctant homeschool mom would be an understatement. I thought for sure that this would be temporary until we found a permanent home. When Baltimore became our permanent home, all of that hope went out of the window. You see, Baltimore City Schools are some of the worst in the nation. It's honestly appalling to see just how we are failing students in this city.
To give you an quick look at the state of Baltimore City schools...
"Project Baltimore is an ongoing investigation on the state of our schools here in Baltimore. This was recently reported, "In 2017, “Project Baltimore” analyzed 2017 state testing data and found one-third of Baltimore High Schools in 2016 had zero students proficient in math. In 2015, an assessment showed a decline in Baltimore City fourth grade public school students average reading scores, while 15 other major national urban districts reflected either no measurable change (no decline) in scores or some improvements in scores. Going back to 2011, The Sun reported that nearly 90 percent of Baltimore elementary and middle schools fell short of academic targets on state assessments ." excerpt from Baltimore Sun
I could spend hours digging into statistics that scream about the tragedy of the Baltimore City School System, but I'll save that rabbit hole for another post.
I felt we didn't have any other choice but to homeschool. I was wrong. In 2000, we found out God was growing our family, unexpectedly. Pregnancy number five was a very difficult pregnancy. I was repeatedly being rushed to the hospital with concerns of preeclampsia. At the same time, I was homeschooling four kids. In 2001, when our little guy joined our tribe, my husband put his foot down for the sake of my health and asked me to enroll the kids in our local Baltimore City School. I honestly didn't have a lot of fight left in me, just the nagging fear of, "What kind of education will they receive?" After China, I no longer feared for their safety, but I still held onto the right of a good education.
God said, "Give that fear to me."
We enrolled them all and three out of four stayed in school that year. We withdrew our eighth grader because within two weeks, he was helping his teacher figure out how to teach the class Pre-Algebra, plus eighth grade is a whole special year all its own. But, the other three we kept in school. I didn't fear for their safety, despite a third-grade stabbing, by another third-grade kid with a rat-tail comb (he drew blood and was arrested in handcuffs). I knew God was protecting my kids, but God was slowing releasing my grip on their "right" to a good education.