Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Book

Another school year is history, my 19th at WCS. Graduation was last night at HBU and it was a great one with excellent valedictory and salutatory addresses and one of the best commencement speeches I've ever heard from Joel Cowley,  the CEO of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. While I'm always ready for the break, and I have an incredibly busy summer ahead, I do get nostalgic when it's officially in the books. Last night, Jean, my wonderful teacher's aide, graduated and so did Roseline, my terrific middle school basketball player. I miss them already. There will be new kids next August but as always, something undefinable will be missing.

The past week was set aside for finals, with semester exams given Monday through Thursday. Bible tests were on Monday so I, with very little sleep, was able to grade and submit results by Wednesday morning. Like all instructors, I also proctored three finals but that is a simple task. I was exempt from proctoring the only final scheduled for Thursday morning, the last testing of the 2016-2017 school year which kicked off back on August 11th. I was finishing up little odds and ends on a checklist that has to be completed before we get paid- mainly inventory and straightening up stuff- when one of my international students walked in. He explained he had no exam but was waiting for a classmate and asked if he could sit in my classroom. No problem! I was in and out of the room and doing little things like taking down a bulletin board and pulling staples out of the wall. Truthfully, I forgot he was there. But I saw him with a book opened and asked what he was reading. He told me it was the Bible. I asked what he was reading in the Bible. He told me Coach O (Kenneth Okwuonu) had told me about a king who threw three guys in a fire.... and they didn't die! We talked a bit about the story of Shadrach/Meshach/Abednego, something we didn't cover in his Gospels' class. I think he was surprised I knew about the trio. We talked a little about my reading the Bible through each year. He told me when he knew he was coming to a Christian school in the US, he tried to find a Bible in bookstores in his country but could not. He was also blocked trying to read it online. I told him how I gave my Bible to a military officer in his country one summer on a mission trip. (Actually, it was the school's property, a LaGard Smith Narrated Bible I used in teaching but my superior was understanding.) And it has occurred to me that this young man is the only student I saw all year reading his Bible when he didn't have to.

The availability of the Bible in the western world is something we take for granted. There were always Bibles in our house. There are always Bibles in the pews in our houses of worship. We can pull it up on our laptops or phones or any electronic device it seems. But that is by no means a universal privilege. I think we take freedom of religion for granted, having known nothing else in our lifetime. We love quoting, and we should, Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." But not everyone can easily access that lamp and light in their country of origin. Along with their diplomas last night, each of our seniors received a personalized Bible from the elders of my congregation. I think for many of our American kids it will be one of many Bibles in their possession, although a special and sentimental one due to the occasion. But to our students from other nations, it might well have added significance, like a treasure in a field. I would say that's a pretty good field of study. But they have to find it first and it's my job to help them do so. There's some pretty good stuff hidden there!

Applicable quote of the day:
The Bible is filled with intriguing stories about complex and flawed human beings who ponder immense moral questions and engage in colossal clashes with evil.
David Harsanyi

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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