Evelyn kept me up last night as she struggled with a head cold. She needed more attention than usual today, so I didn’t get out for my walk until the sun was setting. Brad encouraged me to go ahead and get out anyway, even though it was late. The pink and orange sunset over the mountains contrasted with the deep blues and purples of the low clouds. The outsides of most homes were dark and quiet, while inside lights and televisions illuminated little worlds. Vehicles hurried by in the darkness, their bright lights warning of their comings and goings. The school was dark except for the outdoor flood lights around the perimeter.
It seemed fitting that I would be walking in the dark today. This morning we were greeted with news of the Sparks Middle School shooting in Sparks, Nevada. Last year we learned about the Sandy Hook, Connecticut shooting. My heart breaks every time I hear the news of another school shooting. I taught art at a city school in Maryland for four years, I taught English in China for two years, and I have continued substitute-teaching over the years. It isn’t difficult to imagine myself or one of my peers as the teacher today, or one of my former students as the student today. Our area is not unfamiliar with school shootings either. In 1992, a former Lindhurst High School student took the lives of his teacher and three other students, and injured ten others.
Today as I walked I prayed for the safety of the students and teachers in our public schools. We live in a fallen, broken world. In the last couple years we’ve learned that even marathon-runners and movie-goers are not safe from violence. However, I think that the 50,000,000 children who attend our nation’s K-12 schools make up our country’s largest mission field. Every Christian teacher, parent, counselor, secretary, aide, assistant, librarian, custodian, technician, youth minister, or other support person who works in a school has the opportunity to serve as a missionary to those students. Many choose to love those students like Christ taught us to love others, and some even give their lives for them.
Tonight I hope you too will pray for our nation’s children, and for those who care for them during their school day. Pray for their safety, and pray that those who know Jesus will be a light to those walking in darkness.
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2