By Karen Zerby
AM; ML#3779; May 2009
1. In this Letter we'll address our first major practical change in our change program. As we explained in "The Change Journey," the Lord has led us to look at the various areas of Family life and policy and change the ones that need to be updated in order for us to be more relevant to the needs of today—both in our witness and presentation to the world as well as in our daily lives. In some cases, these might be things we've done a certain way for certain reasons in the past, which may have worked well in the past or accomplished a certain purpose that the Lord had in mind at the time but which no longer fit today's needs. In some cases the solutions of the past have even become impediments or difficulties today, because they've outlived their usefulness. As has been said, "Often today's problems are yesterday's solutions." That doesn't mean that these methods weren't the right methods for their day, but if we keep holding on to them, we'll miss the mark and won't be as effective as the Lord wants us to be today. So, it's time to change!
2. The Lord has led Peter and me, in counsel with Family leadership, to make some major changes in our Family policy concerning the education of our children. These policies are effective immediately with the publishing of this GN.
3. I'll start by telling you what the changes are, and then I'll backtrack to the reasoning behind the changes and the Lord's leading on the important matter of our children's education.
4. While we have promoted homeschooling as the best way to educate our children, and there have been restrictions on other options (for the FD Family in recent years), we now encourage you to meet your children's educational needs in whatever way the Lord shows you would be best for your children in your situation. This means that all options are now available for your consideration without restriction, including homeschooling, hiring tutors, co-op schooling, enrolling your children or teens in private or public schools or classes, or a combination of any or all of the above.
5. There are no restrictions or stipulations on what educational methods to use, or even recommendations as to what the best option would be for your situation, as long as you—the parents, the teachers, and the Home—make your decision based on what you feel is best for your children and their needs, in counsel with the Lord and in accordance with His will for you.
6. It is the responsibility of every parent and every communal Home to provide an adequate and well-rounded education for their children—including academic, character building, Christian life and faith, and life skills training.
7. In looking at how to best meet your children's needs, you might find that they benefit from homeschooling and the individualized attention it affords, and that through homeschooling, you're able to provide a good foundation in all of the main pillars of education (academic, character building, Christian life and faith, life skills).
8. In another scenario, you might find that your children and teens benefit from receiving their academic education outside the Home, and their moral, practical, and spiritual education inside the Home. Or you might find that they benefit from having academics and moral and spiritual education taught inside the Home, and taking select life skills classes outside the Home.
9. All options are open to you, depending on what the Lord shows you is best for your children. We want you to consider all available options, without being influenced in your decisions by past mindsets or past policy, as you find the Lord's solutions for meeting your children's educational needs today.
10. In addition, our updated stance on education extends to education after high school: Those of you who have completed high school and want to further your studies, whether academically or through career training, are welcome to do so, insofar as you have the time, means, and support of your Home. We encourage you to look at your personal commitment to the mission of the Family, and the skills you need to be successful in your chosen profession within your service for the Lord, and to pursue any additional education you may need to achieve those skills.
11. This allowance for pursuing continuing education within the Family also applies to young people who haven't yet decided whether they want to pursue a full-time missionary career or not. They can work toward furthering their education—while also contributing to the mission and their Home's goals—if their Home is in agreement and is able to make provision for them to do so.
Academic education: Schooling in the core academic areas of mathematics, language arts, social studies, the sciences, and the arts.
Life skills: The skills necessary for successful living, which include daily living skills, personal health and development, physical education, skills training, social skills, extracurricular activities, and career preparation.
Character building: Moral instruction that is based on Christian ethics and virtues, which would include teaching values and behaviors such as integrity, problem solving, compassion, responsibility, respect, self-discipline, perseverance, and leadership, to name a few.
Christian life and faith: Foundation principles of the Bible and Christianity and Family ethos. Developing a personal relationship with Jesus and His Word, sharing God's love and message with others through witnessing. Missionary training.
12. As you can imagine, coming to the point of making this change in our education policy hasn't been a quick or easy decision. Our children are our national treasure, and caring for them is one of our most compelling responsibilities. We want the best for them. We don't want to compromise on that—and we aren't going to.
13. After extensive thought, prayer, discussion and counsel, the Lord has shown us that opening up more options for education is part of providing the best for our children today. It will enable parents and Homes to find what works in their situation, in accordance with their children's individual needs, to give their children the best education possible. Here are a few of the reasons why.
1. We're in the Offensive.
14. The Family is changing, and will continue to change, in order to fulfill our commission from the Lord to make the Offensive a success.
15. Everyone in the Family—children, teenagers, adults—will have more contact with those outside the Family as we focus outward and become more inclusive, more welcoming, and more centered on meeting the needs of those whom the Lord has called us to reach. This shift toward a more inclusive culture has already begun, and we expect that we will continue moving in this direction as the Family grows.
16. If we press forward in the direction of expanding the Family and welcoming those whom the Lord is calling to serve Him in some measure, in time our circle of fellowship will expand greatly to include many who we are working with, collaborating with, who are called to serve the Lord in some capacity, or who are spiritually hungry for the truth we have to offer. Those who want to fellowship with us will be welcome. Those who want to serve the Lord with us or help us in our mission will be welcome and we'll be grateful for their help in whatever measure they feel called to give it. Those who want to share some of our beliefs, but not necessarily all, will also be welcome to partake of the spiritual treasures that they have a vacuum for. Those who are spiritually hungry and desirous of the Lord's Spirit will be welcome, and we'll feed them in whatever measure they can receive.
17. In becoming more inclusive, we will become closer to those we are collaborating with and those whom the Lord brings to us for spiritual training. This is already happening to some degree, and it will increase with time. You and your children will make friends with those the Lord has asked you to win and train—and in time you'll become good friends with some. You will visit each other in your respective homes. You'll read the Word together, laugh together, eat together, sing together, go witnessing together, relax together. Our "community" will expand beyond our Homes to the homes of those we'll be working with, collaborating with, or training. They will become part of our Family, and we will be part of their family. As this happens, our children will share in the experience. They will be learning to witness to the children of your friends and new Family members. They will make new friends, play with them, interact with them, and learn with them.
18. In order for this beautiful future to become reality throughout the Family, we need to change our mindset and the outlook and approach we've had in previous years of keeping our Homes and children protected and free from outside influences. Instead of trying to protect our Homes from any outside influences, we should instead focus on being spiritually strong and mature, adults, teens and children alike, and solid in our faith and convictions, being "in the world but not of the world." Instead of trying to completely shelter or protect our children from anything that doesn't correspond to our beliefs and Family way of doing things, we will need to focus our energies on helping them to relate to others, teaching them to have strong conviction in their hearts, as well as love, understanding, and tolerance of differences.
19. That's not to say that we can abandon our fear of the Lord about allowing ungodly or negative influences into our lives, especially ones that are avoidable. We can't be naïve about this. But we can also expect that in the course of making the vision of the Offensive happen, expanding our flocks, and reaching those the Lord wants us to reach, we will be much less sheltered or protected by strict rules or isolation in our own Homes and personal lives, and thus will need to have greater personal maturity and conviction. It's therefore important that we impart that same understanding to our children and teens, and help them to grow in their maturity and conviction, rather than relying on "barriers" to keep everything out, which is often ineffective anyway.
20. The fact is, it's increasingly unrealistic to think that we can shelter our children and teens from everything that's negative. Even if they were to always stay within the four walls of their house, the Internet, media of all types, and our children's natural curiosity, make for a losing battle if your aim is to try to prevent your children and teens from ever seeing, hearing, or encountering the negative that is in the world around them.
21. This "preparing versus sheltering" mentality is a fundamental change in our thinking—one that will take time to sink in fully. We're neither trying to isolate our children from the world nor unwisely expose them. But the reality is that we won't succeed in keeping our children sheltered from all negative influences, no matter how hard we try. So our focus needs to be on preparing them, teaching them, helping them to learn to make godly, wise, morally sound decisions, and to have conviction.
22. Our desire to shelter our children from influences that could weaken their faith was one of the main reasons we preferred to not send our children to outside schools in the past. We were trying to protect them. Now our focus must shift to teaching them how to relate to others and interact with them, how to draw others to Jesus through their personal example of love, caring, and integrity, and helping them to build their personal convictions, faith, and relationship with Jesus, so that they are prepared to make the right choices when faced with temptation or negative influences.
23. Another change that has come about since the Offensive is the need for more time and personnel to be put toward our mission of winning the world. In doing so, we don't want our children and their needs to suffer even a little bit. Allowing for some or all of the children's educational needs to be met outside the Home, if that's what the Lord shows you would be best for your children, gives you more options to keep their education at a high standard and to ensure that all aspects of their needs are met.
2. We're adopting a long-term vision.
24. Family context is changing. In many areas of our lives and outlook, the Lord is encouraging us to invest for the future, to be willing to make changes today in order to reap dividends years down the road. This affects our outlook on education.
25. Instead of looking at time invested in education—especially past the high school level, such as career training—as taking valuable time that could be spent on winning the world, we're now looking at it as something that could be a worthwhile investment, if it helps individuals to become more skilled or professional in their chosen career.
3. The Family has been strengthened.
26. The Lord has prepared us for the Offensive. He has prepared us for the changes that we'll need to make in our lifestyle and application of the Word in order to see the fulfillment of what He has promised us about the Offensive.
27. He has helped us to mature and to have more conviction about our calling and what it requires of us. Our mission is clearly defined, which makes it easier to put our focus on where we're going and how to get there. All of this helps to put our job, as well as what we may or may not need in order to accomplish it, into perspective. We are better prepared to make sound decisions, and so He is removing some of the rules that He had previously put in place to protect and strengthen us, because we are prepared to weigh those decisions against our long-term goals and the mission, and choose what we feel will best help us to accomplish our mission. He's putting more in our court to decide. He's giving us more freedom to choose what might work best in the particular situations we find ourselves in.
28. He's expecting maturity from us, and that we will seek Him and choose wisely. He's giving us this liberty not for the sake of liberty alone—although He does want us to be happier and less restricted—but so that we can do the job better than ever. He is interested in the results. What will we do with the increased options? Will we invest wisely?
4. Homeschooling is a challenge.
29. While some Homes are homeschooling their children very effectively, some Homes have a very difficult time adequately educating their children and teens solely through homeschooling. Maybe they don't have qualified teachers for certain subjects or grades, or they don't have a good curriculum available in the needed language, or they don't have enough personnel, or the ages of their children vary greatly and combining multiple grades isn't working well, or the country they're in doesn't permit homeschooling or requires jumping through too many hoops. There are ways to overcome those obstacles, but the Lord might show you that formal schooling (outside the Home) for some of your children's educational needs is the solution He wants to give you. Maybe in a certain Home they're able to homeschool their younger children easily and well, but instruction in the higher grades is lacking. In another Home maybe they're able to teach math and language arts adequately at home, but enrolling in outside classes for science and biology makes the classes more interesting and the lab work more practical. You'll need to find what works in your situation and meets your children's needs.
30. In addition, the high school requirements are very difficult for some Homes to fulfill using homeschooling as the primary option. Teaching secondary school grades is a specialized ministry, and not everyone is trained for it. Just like you don't expect everyone to be able to play a musical instrument or deliver a baby, teaching high school is a job that you need specific training and education for, and not everyone is qualified.
5. Preparing our children for life in or out of the Family.
31. Stats to date indicate that more than half of the children who grow up in the Family eventually pursue careers outside of Family membership. While we have generally prepared our children well for a missionary career, and they have gained valuable life skills in the Family that are useful in many occupations, some have felt that their academic education and preparation for life outside the Family was lacking.
32. We need to acknowledge the reality that many children born to Family members will go on to have a productive life and career outside the Family, and more concertedly prepare our children with the education that will help them in the future, whether they choose a missionary career or a secular one. Our young people should feel that they have received a good education in terms of life preparation.
33. In addition, as we go further into the Offensive and the variety of ministries and works the Lord wants to give us, we will need specialists within the Family—professionals in various fields who are serving the Lord alongside us and contribute their gifts and professionalism to accomplishing the mission. Through our witnessing and winning in the Offensive we will find people who are very specialized and proficient in certain fields, who the Lord has prepared to serve Him in some measure. In addition, it's very possible that He will call some of our own young people—or people of all ages, for that matter—to become more skilled or educated in a certain field for a certain purpose that He has in mind. This is a change in our thinking, and one that requires a long-term investment, but if someone wants to study to become a professional in some field, we want to encourage them to stay in the Family and do it and continue to use their skills for the Lord. There is room for a huge range of professions and specialties within our mission of reaching the world for Jesus, and as time goes on, that need will become greater and more apparent.
34. If an individual desires to pursue a specialty, how they go about it will also depend on their Home and what their Home feels it can support. Those who choose to pursue a specialized calling in the Family, with the support of their Home, would still need to give emphasis to their spiritual life and contribute to the Home and the mission, even though it will mean extra sacrifices, and the Home would have to be in agreement and support their decisions. But if both the Home and the individual look at it as an investment in the future, and they have the means to make it happen, we welcome that approach and proactive effort.
6. We're willing to change because we want results!
35. The Lord is asking all of us to do the new so that we can bear greater fruit in the Offensive. He's encouraging us to evaluate what we've been doing and to change the things that aren't working well. In some cases, our children have been receiving an excellent education within today's guidelines (homeschooling and limited options for outside school). In other cases, Homes have been struggling and haven't been able to give the children all that they wanted to, due to lack of personnel or lack of the necessary teaching skills, or good classroom setups, or other lacks or challenges.
36. The goal of removing the former restrictions and limitations on other non-homeschooling educational methods, and introducing flexibility to choose from a broader range of educational options, is to make it easier for parents and Homes to fulfill their educational responsibilities to their children. You should look at the education of your children and decide if the way you're doing it is the best for today. If so, keep it up! If not, find out what the Lord's best is for you, and begin to enact that as soon as possible.
37. You need to look at the results you're getting, and then analyze the methods or means available to you, and figure out how to get the results you're after, just as the Lord showed us in the "Beyond Duty" Letters. The Lord is giving you the freedom to find what works best in each situation and for each of your children—based not on the past, not on your previous mindsets regarding what was best, but on what He shows you for today, through prayer and counsel, and based on your collective faith (as parents and as a Home).
38. The Lord is saying, "Your children deserve the best. They deserve a well-rounded, complete education. What's the best way to achieve that today?" He's ready and willing to counsel and lead you, but He's putting it in your court to seek and find the best combination or situation for your children, teens and Home.
7. It's time.
39. Lastly, after discussion, debate, consideration, and much prayer, the Lord confirmed that this is one of the changes the Family needs to make not only for today, but for the future. School outside the Home is now an option for your consideration as you continue to give your children the best education you can. Thank the Lord that we can change with Him!
Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.—William Pollard
40. The Family has gone through various cycles in our approach to the education of our children. Everyone probably remembers Dad's comments about how an 8th grade education is enough. What is easier to forget is that an 8th grade education in the '50s, when Dad was teaching, was far more advanced and complete than an 8th grade education today. But regardless of exactly how advanced an 8th grade education was at the time, the world of today is not the world of 30 or 40 years ago when Dad said this. Today, an 8th grade education is just not enough.
41. Dad was intellectually brilliant, and although he completed high school and went on to college and various Bible schools, much of his education was self-taught—through books, travel, experience, and a hunger for learning. Dad taught us that our kids could benefit from the same—receiving the basics in academics (ideally in the home), but then adding to that a wealth of practical education and training through travel, missionary work, and being exposed to a variety of experiences. Dad was right!—That type of education is extremely effective. It's fun, it inspires a joy for learning, and it can be very well rounded.
42. Home education works if it's your focus and priority. It doesn't work quite so well if you don't have the time to invest in the planning, research, actual teaching of scholastics, grading the papers, filing the records, as well as giving your children the experiences, outings, and extracurricular activities that help to complete the package of true homeschooling.
43. Dad's original counsel about educating our Family children was based on his experience and on what worked at the time. However, as the number of children born to Family members increased and our Homes became more complex, we soon outgrew that stage and needed to adjust.
44. During the late '80s the school vision was born. Dad encouraged the Family to set up schools, and this was very effective in some ways. We had a lot of kids who were reaching preteen or early teen years, and they craved fellowship with their peers. It allowed our qualified teachers to be of benefit to more children, since they taught bigger groups.
45. Some school situations were more effective than others. Some lacked balance or grew too big and took on too many ministries, or weren't well equipped to handle the challenges of boarding school situations. In some cases those responsible for the teen groups were inexperienced in caring for teens or had unrealistic expectations for the teens' behavior and used overly strict or inappropriate discipline measures, and thus some children or parents were negatively affected. In many situations, however, having more children together meant that they received better scholastic training and more focused teaching. Many of the older children in particular enjoyed the round-the-clock schedule of inspired Word classes, scholastics, life skills, vocational and ministry training, sports, and activities.
46. In 1995, another major revolution that affected the schooling of our children was the Charter. Homes became much smaller, many families went pioneering, and the implementation of the Family's education standard dropped in many cases, because Homes didn't have the personnel to properly educate their children and teens while also witnessing, raising funds, pioneering, and adjusting to life during the initial years of the Charter.
47. In 1996 we published a Letter that was intended to bring things back to the right balance, reminding everyone of our obligation to give our children a good education, and suggesting that parents take advantage of public or private schools if they weren't able to provide a good education within the Home (see "Our Children's Education," ML #3066). There were very clear recommendations included regarding monitoring and shepherding the spiritual lives of our children who might attend school outside the Home, because the Lord showed us that without those stipulations, it would not go well. Many parents enrolled their children in formal school, and those who continued to homeschool put more emphasis on it.
48. The next major shift in our education policies came in 2001 with the "Conviction versus Compromise" series and Family restructuring. At that time, the Family overall was weakened and doing poorly spiritually. There was a great deal of compromise, disunity, and System influence of all kinds, and we were in danger of losing our anointing and heritage as the Lord's Endtime Church.
49. At that time the Lord led us to strongly discourage schooling our children in public or private schools, because most parents and Homes had not followed the Lord's admonitions about the additional spiritual investments that were needed if their children attended traditional school outside the Home. Sadly, many of our children had become ill-behaved, undisciplined, and weakened spiritually, because many Homes and Family members were themselves spiritually weak and compromised and were not giving their children the spiritual and moral input and guidance they needed.
50. In the "Conviction versus Compromise" (CvsC) series you will find some of the harshest words we've ever published about outside education. Shortly after the CvsC series was published, the Charter was amended to restrict the options for schooling outside the Home.
51. If you look back at different eras of our history, you'll find varying counsel in the Letters on the subject of education, depending on the world and Family climate of the day. Educating our children has always been important, but there have been times when the message of the need for education was eclipsed by the strong counsel warning against specific types of education, or the dangers of not spiritually shepherding your children.
52. Whatever our specific policies on education throughout each era, our children's training and education has remained a priority. What we have felt that our children needed as far as education and training has varied and changed through the years, but giving them quality care and input has always been extremely important, through every era of Family history. At times we have been very concerned about protecting them from outside influences, or about how school outside the Home would negatively affect them. During the "Conviction versus Compromise" period, our priority was helping them to be strengthened in their character and Christian sample, and academic education options that we deemed suitable were limited. That was the Lord's counsel for that time, but the Lord has new counsel for today. Just as we went on record at the time of the CvsC series as saying that we did not believe that it was God's highest will for our children to be enrolled in school outside the Home, we are going on the record now to say that our stance has changed. Counsel from past eras concerning outside schooling no longer applies. Past counsel was for those times; this counsel is for now.
53. Our children need and deserve an education—and not just any education, but the best that you can give them within your means. Giving your children a good education is a vital part of preparing them for life. If you feel called to give your children a good education at home and you have the means, that's good. There are tremendous benefits to homeschooling. If you feel that enrolling them in some outside classes or even full-time in a regular school will provide a better education for them, that's good too. There are some advantages to every educational method, and there are some disadvantages as well. [Note: The ED board has prepared a list of some of the main pros and cons to consider regarding the various education options available. Coming soon.]
54. We all know the effort it takes to raise well-adjusted children with good character traits, with virtues instilled that will guide them through life. It goes without saying that whatever schooling option you choose for your children, you have to build their character through the spiritual and moral education you give them. Bottom line, providing your children with a good education requires work. There are no shortcuts.
55. If you choose to homeschool, you will need to invest time, money, and effort into preparing the curriculum, preparing the classes, teaching the classes, documenting your children's education, and fulfilling the many aspects of giving your children a good home-based education. Or you could choose a full program curriculum that comes with prepared classes and books, which might require more financial investment and provide less flexibility than regular homeschooling, but which has other valuable benefits.
56. If you choose to enroll your children in school outside the Home, you remain responsible for their education. In addition to investing money and effort, you will need to invest extra time in counseling them and helping them deal with issues related to outside schooling, which may be new challenges that you haven't encountered with your children before. All scholastic options have pros and cons, benefits and challenges.
57. Whatever option you choose, as long as you are choosing it with the best interests of your children as the primary factor (and their best interests include providing them with an education that is satisfactory and as complete as possible), and you are willing to invest in making it successful, Peter and I support you in it. We back you, we encourage you, we applaud you.
(Jesus:) I'm bringing in restructurings and strengthenings and renewals, and prayer drives, and programs, and training, and professionalism, and reaching the rich, and the Winning Offensive, and education revivals, and plenty of other things as well, in order to push you higher and farther than you've gone before. It helps if you don't look at it as the old way versus the new way, but rather that it's the same way—My way—that continues to evolve and flow to fit the needs of the time (ML #3686:60, GN 1247).
58. As you read about the new mindsets the Lord is asking us to adopt regarding education and its importance for all children raised in the Family, I'm sure some of you older SGAs are wondering about the education you received, especially if you grew up during a time period when the Word didn't promote academic education in the same way that it does today, particularly at the high school level. Your education may have been more focused on vocational and ministry training for your careers as missionaries, and less on academics.
59. Some of you may have experienced learning gaps, or your education may have lacked in some aspects. Education standards varied at different periods of Family history, and there were also differences in standards between Homes, regions, and language areas. Some regions had citywide schools that were well organized during the "School Vision" years; others did not. Some parents placed more focus on their children's education than others. Overall, there was not a standardized approach to homeschooling, curriculums, or education standards. Our Family standards for education developed over time from the late 1980s onward. Now the Lord is leading us to place even more emphasis on the academic education of our children and young people.
60. Peter and I want you to know that we are very sorry for any educational deficiencies any of you may have experienced. Our hope and prayer is that you have been able to make up for any lacks along the way. If not, and if you feel the need to do so, we pray that you will be able to take the time for it. Peter and I have been happy to hear that many of you have already done this. I would encourage any of you who feel that your education lacked to look into remedial studies or high school certification exams to round out or certify your education as needed.
61. Whenever the Lord changes His counsel to us, it can be a test of faith. It's even more of a test when that change isn't minor, but a major change from previous counsel.
62. That's the case here. It's not that portions of the Lord's previous counsel don't still apply. For example, you will still need to shepherd and invest spiritually in your children if you send them to school outside your Home. If you don't, you are abdicating your responsibility as Christian parents, and that is unacceptable. Our responsibility before the Lord as parents is the same, no matter what means you use to educate your children. But there are other portions of the counsel given in the past that are out of date for today. The Lord has given new counsel for today, which supersedes some of the old counsel.
63. We can be encouraged that the Lord does this regularly. He updates or changes His instructions to His people according to the needs of that time—the needs of His people, or the needs of the world, or both. If you look through history—biblical history as well as church history—you'll see that He's done it many times.
64. At the time when the Lord gave His strongest warnings about schooling our children outside our Homes, and higher education, His priority for the Family was to strengthen us. He was trying to salvage our spiritual state, which had become very weak due to compromise. The Family was in danger of ceasing to exist if we didn't change radically, so the Lord's counsel to us was strong, a wake-up call, and full of warnings.
65. The Family is in a very different state today. We're not perfect, but through our years of training we've all gotten a much better idea of what the Lord expects of us, and we're stronger spiritually, more united, more fruitful.
66. The Lord is now focusing our attention on different challenges than our own strengthening. Our needs as a Family are different today. The Family is not riddled with compromise. We're launching the Offensive. We need to take a different approach to staying strong. He's asking us to be much more "in the world but not of the world." His priority is not separating us from the world, but making us relatable and effective in winning the world. That applies to the way we raise our children too. We're not trying to shelter them from everything anymore, because that's not what they need, and it's not an effective approach.
67. Taking the approach of preparing our children to make good informed choices rather than sheltering them from everything makes it possible to open more doors in regard to their academic education, as long as we're willing to invest in making the rest of their education—spiritual, moral, and life skills training and preparation for life—as well rounded and complete as possible.
68. As parents, our job is to prepare our children to lead loving, productive lives, whether they carry on as missionaries or choose a secular career. You probably would like your children to carry on as missionaries—and maybe they will. You feel the Family is a wonderful place to serve the Lord, and that's why you're in the Family. So it's only natural that in wanting the best for your children, you would want them to choose a career in missionary service, and you may feel disappointed if they choose to do something else.
69. But many children in the world, and in the Family, don't follow in their parents' footsteps when it comes to choosing their path in life. Missionary service isn't suited to everyone, and a good percentage of our young people choose to pursue other professions or walks of life.
70. In the Family of the future, it's possible that some of our children who want to specialize in other careers will choose to contribute some of their skills to help further the mission in some way. The culture of the Family of the future will be much more inclusive, and there will be a lot more room for people to contribute their efforts, expertise, or knowledge toward our goal of changing the world without having to be full-time in the Family. That is a positive option, and something we look forward to.
71. Whether or not your child chooses to continue to serve the Lord in some measure, and regardless of how much you may want your children to serve the Lord, if they choose a different path in life, it will serve you well if you can accept that and adjust your mentality and support them, encourage them, and do all you can to help them do well and be a person of integrity in whatever path they choose. If you keep holding on to the disappointment that they didn't do what you were hoping, it will negatively influence your relationship with them; it will make them feel alienated, and you won't be able to support them or be proud of them for the things they do that you should be proud of them for.
72. Regardless of the career your children choose, they're forever your children, you love them unconditionally, and you should show faith in them and be proud of them for the good choices they make. Whether they exercise their power of choice and action to pursue a career in the Family or whether they move into another career, our job as parents, and as a Family, is to give them the education that they need in order to do well. As a parent, you need to realize that if your child chooses a different path than the one you might have hoped for, that doesn't mean that you have failed or that they have failed.
73. In the past we expected or hoped that most of our children would choose to continue serving the Lord in the Family, and we tried to protect them from the things that we thought would influence that choice negatively. But we need to accept that our children may or may not want to go on to be missionaries, no matter how much we want them to, or how much we try to shelter or protect them from the influences of the world.
74. If you have given your children Jesus and His love, if you have shared your faith with them and instilled good morals and a godly sense of right and wrong in your children, then whether they opt for a missionary or a secular career, you will have given them a solid foundation to build the rest of their lives on. They will possess some of the most important tools for making good choices in life, for being productive and a help to others, for living an upright life, and you will have done your job as a parent.
Real education should educate us out of self into something far finer, into a selflessness which links us with all humanity.—Nancy Astor
75. I'm mentioning this here, because if you're afraid that your children might leave the Family, if you see that possibility as something that would mean failure on your part or theirs, it might prevent your giving them the best, most well-rounded education that you can. It may be the Lord's will, and the best option, for your child to attend formal school outside your Home, but you might back away from that decision because you worry that it will automatically result in your child being spiritually weakened and eventually deciding to leave the Family. But attending outside school doesn't have to weaken your child spiritually, neither does keeping your child spiritually strong mean that he'll remain in the Family.
76. If you can accept that your children will go on to make their own choices, it will help you see things more objectively. If you realize that you have done an excellent job if you've given your children an upbringing that guides them into being people of integrity and values, who love Jesus and others, and who have a solid academic education under their belt, that is a healthy perspective, and it's a reachable goal to shoot for. With that kind of perspective, you'll be able to provide the support they need, and it will be much easier to help them to find their way.
77. Your children have to choose their own course in life. That is something only they can do. Your job as parents is to prepare them so that no matter what they choose, they'll have the foundation to succeed. Giving your children a well-rounded education—and that includes an academic minimum of high school equivalency—is part of giving them what they need to do well in life. The other part is found in the other pillars of education—character building, life skills, and Christian life and faith. Perhaps the most important is teaching them to make the right choices—choices of love, integrity, value, self-discipline, kindness, and choices to know the Lord and accept His presence in their lives. If you have those basics as your goal, then your children will have a good opportunity to be well prepared for life, whether they decide to become missionaries or they choose another path in life.
78. Now that we've talked about some of the thinking behind this change and reviewed our history very briefly, I want to again articulate our stance on education for today. After hearing how it compares with the past, and some of the reasons for making this change now, it will probably be clearer to you what this change will mean for you and your Home and your children.
79. Here is our stance: Education is a tool for life. It's a wise and necessary investment in the future of our children. Education is vital. It is needed and an asset whether our children opt to devote their life to a missionary career or a secular one.
80. Peter and I want to make very clear that this is the Family's official stance. It's also Peter's and my personal belief. This is what we believe and stand by and expect every Family member, regardless of membership category, to uphold.
81. Our children and young people need a solid education—one that comprises academic education, spiritual training, character building, and life skills. It's the duty of every Family parent to ensure that their children and teens receive an education consisting of these four basic pillars. It is the responsibility of every Family Home to facilitate and provide this well-rounded education for the children and teens in their Home.
82. The goals of education in the Family should be:
* To provide a well-rounded education that gives our children the knowledge and skills they'll need to be successful in life (regardless of the career path they eventually choose).
* To instill in each child a desire and love for learning.
* To teach our children self-discipline, good study habits, and the ability to persevere.
* To give each child the opportunity to develop his or her skills and potential.
* To help each child feel confident and prepared for life, so that when they look back on their education, they will feel that it helped them to become a better person and equipped them for what they would need in life.
* To help them lay a foundation of love for the Lord, love for others, kindness, integrity, and character that will serve them well throughout life.
* To give them the spiritual knowledge and understanding that will enable them to share the Lord's love and truth with others, especially if they choose a missionary career; but even if they choose another path, they can fall back on this knowledge of the Word and it can help guide them in life.
83. It's extremely important to Peter and me that our children receive the education that they need and deserve. It is your duty as a parent and as a Home to provide this for your children. Because we consider this our moral responsibility to our children, adhering to this policy will be required for Family members in every category of membership.
84. I'll repeat that: This responsibility applies to all categories of Family membership. It's your duty before the Lord to give your children a good education. The International Education board will help to keep a pulse on the education of Family children; they will do their best to assist you. But the responsibility for your children's education is in your court—as parents and as a Home.
85. In the past we had the aid of the Home review for the FD Family, and presently the FD Homes have the ED report and MM Homes have the Home review. Over the years there have been various means of monitoring or enforcing the rules, with varying degrees of effectiveness. In most cases it was needed for the time, and it served as training and provided a better understanding of what the Lord expected. It also showed us that we could fulfill the standard of the Word if we were willing to work hard to do so. In many cases the strict enforcement was needed to help us raise our expectations and faith for full obedience and establish good habits.
86. Heading into the future, the Lord has confirmed that outside enforcement of the rules won't be the best method, in most cases, for meeting tomorrow's needs. As the Family grows and our flocks expand and everyone in the Family gets busier than ever with our priority work of reaching the world, leadership will not have time to invest in extensive policing and enforcement of rules that every Family member is well aware of and able to fulfill on their own. Family leadership will be busy helping the Family, and their region specifically, to fulfill the mission and progress in their Offensive goals. The Family will be moving forward, getting involved in new ministries and building strong works, and leadership's time will need to be primarily invested in helping the Homes that are actively carrying out the mission to succeed.
87. In addition, the years of training have strengthened us and helped us to become more disciplined and have a better understanding of how to fulfill the various requirements. The Lord is now asking us to use that training and understanding to make good decisions even if there are no rules requiring us to do so. He's asking this maturity and responsibility of us in various aspects of our lives—from our spiritual lives and time with Him (as "Beyond Duty" brings out), to being a good Christian example, to being faithful witnesses for Him, or in this case to fulfilling our duties as parents and Homes to provide our children with a good education. Just because the education of your children may not be as closely monitored as it once was doesn't mean that it's not as important anymore, or that you can neglect to fulfill this duty. What it does mean is that the responsibility is fully in your court, and that you're accountable before the Lord.
88. Our current stance on education is that:
1) Education, in all four of its main aspects, is important;
2) As parents and Family members, you are responsible to provide a good education for the children in your Home through whatever means the Lord shows you will best meet your children's needs, in accordance with local education requirements, and
3) Giving your children a good education is a fundamental requirement for every category of Family membership.
89. For the most part, there will not be strict oversight or policing to ensure that you are providing a satisfactory education for your children. It is your responsibility before the Lord; it is in your court. However, if it comes to leadership's attention that you are negligent in your duty of providing your children with a solid education, you will be in jeopardy of losing your Family membership. (Note: This stance would apply to all categories of Family membership, but that doesn't mean that all categories will be monitored or on the same system. If it comes to leadership's attention that someone is negligent in educating their children, their membership can be revoked regardless of what category of membership they are. Anyone who calls himself a Family member will be required to properly educate his children.)
90. Further details on this policy—and any other education policies that are changing—will be clearly spelled out (in the Charter, Missionary Member Statutes, and Statement on Fellow Members), and you don't need to worry that you'll be penalized for a technicality or a minor infraction in the meantime. For example, if you have a child who is behind his grade level, you will not lose your membership, as long as you are doing what you can to help him catch up and progress in his education. The point is that Peter and I expect you to do all you can to give your children the education they deserve, and so we are requiring that from all Family parents and Homes. We know you want that too.
* All schooling options are available for your consideration—homeschooling, full program correspondence courses, co-op schooling, tutors, private schools, public schools, outside classes, or any other viable option that is available in your area.
* The Home vote for how you choose to educate your children is now determined by a simple majority, instead of 2/3.
* If it comes to leadership's attention that you are negligent in your duty of providing your children with an education, you will be in jeopardy of losing your Family membership. Your Family membership will be revoked if you do not fulfill this responsibility. The details on this policy will be clearly spelled out in the Charter, Missionary Member Statutes, and Statement on Fellow Members.
* Pursuing an ongoing education, beyond high school, is in the court of the individual, according to your motivation, means, and what you can work out with your Home.
91. The good news is, all options for educating your children are open to you, and we encourage you to find what works for your situation. If homeschooling isn't working for you, ask the Lord what might work better—possibly outside classes or private or public school. If sending your children to school outside your Home isn't working, ask the Lord what would better meet your kids' needs—maybe homeschooling, or hiring tutors, or co-op schooling. There are no restrictions or limits. Find the methods that will best meet your children's needs and that are workable for you. As you seek the Lord for the best educational options for your children, He will open the doors of opportunity and lead you to a good solution.
92. In this Letter we're giving particular attention to academic education because it has been a weak area for some Homes, particularly with higher grades. That does not, however, minimize the importance of the other aspects of a well-rounded education, which includes character building and the tenets of our Christian life and faith. Well-rounded education also includes instructing your children and teens in practical and social matters, and helping them gain the skills they will need to succeed in life.
93. The ED, CP and JT boards will do what they can to support your efforts to give well-rounded care to your precious children and teens, and you are welcome to ask them for counsel or input and they will do what they can to help in this way. However, the implementation of the counsel in this GN is completely in your court, so please don't wait to hear from them. If some aspect of your children's care or education needs improvement, find out from the Lord and through counsel with your Home what will work best in your situation, for your children and their needs, and make it happen!
94. Once a young person has completed high school equivalency, the responsibility for continuing education shifts from the parents and Home to the individual. Until a child turns 18, it is the duty of the parents and the Home to provide and support their education. After 18, the choice and responsibility rests in the court of the young person. This principle also applies to adults of any age who want to study something that will further their ministry or help them to be more well rounded in their service for the Lord. We encourage everyone in the Family, of any age, to continue learning, as the Lord leads you, and there are a number of ways to do so. Pursuing education beyond high school is the responsibility of the individual, according to your motivation, means, and what is realistic and doable in your Home and situation.
95. We believe that there are situations where further education would be useful and a wise investment—both for the individual and for the Lord's work. That doesn't necessarily mean attending college or university, but it doesn't exclude that either. You can learn a great deal from studying online, reading books, or listening to audio/visual podcasts, and attending seminars or specialized courses.
96. We encourage each of you, valuable ambassadors for the Lord, to continue learning and expanding your skills as the Lord leads you. There are all sorts of careers within the umbrella of missionary work, and we don't doubt that the Lord will call some people to very specialized ministries within His service.
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.—Henry Ford
97. In addition, some of our young people aren't yet sure what they want to do with their lives—whether to continue in missionary work or pursue a secular career. Opening the door for them to further their education while living in the Home gives them and their parents more options (providing the Home is in agreement), and allows them more time to make their decision in a loving and supported atmosphere. Of course, this would have to be within the parameters of what the Home feels is realistic, and the individual would need to contribute to the Home and the mission, along with putting time into their studies. This allowance could make for a much easier transition for those who decide to move into secular society, and at the same time help those who feel called to continue in the Family to have the faith to do so, using their education and talents to further the mission.
98. For the most part, if you want to study something, you'll need to be willing to make it somewhat of an "extra" in your life, study in your free time, in the evenings, or take night classes, and make some sacrifices to make it work. That's not unique to the Family—that's the way it works for many people in mainstream society too. Unless someone is from a wealthy family and has all expenses covered, most people who want to study to become more proficient in a career or to receive additional certification have to do double duty to achieve their goal. Their family life and work, the need to support themselves, and other obligations don't disappear while they study and get their certification. They have to keep up with the other important things in life and find time to study. That's not undue hardship; it's just life.
99. Of course, if you were to enroll in a full-time college or university course, that wouldn't be an extra; that would be your life. But in order to do that, you would need substantial financial resources, might need to live on campus, and it might wind up being a hiatus from active missionary service during the years you study. Though it would require a lot of effort, it's possible that someone who is determined and makes fulfilling the mission a major priority could figure out ways to continue to be a very active and effective witness. But the point is that if you were to have a full class schedule, while either supporting yourself or contributing to your Home on the side, you would have very little time to invest in other priorities. The time and focus that your studies would take, leaving little time for much else, is something to consider carefully and be realistic about in making this decision.
100. Our stance on continuing education, whether it's career training, specialized courses, online study, seminars, self-teaching with books and podcasts and resource study, or even taking college or university courses, is that it's an option that you are free to look into according to your desire or need and what you can work out with your Home (and/or your parents if you are under 18). We support continuing education and agree that it can be beneficial in many cases, but we can't make it happen for you. We encourage you to consider the mission, look at what you plan to do for the Lord, and invest in education that will help you to better accomplish those goals.
101. Your Home's agreement in this matter is very important. In essence you are deciding, together with your Home, to make an investment (of time, in this case, and possibly finances as well). As much as possible, this should fall within your Home's goals as well as your personal goals. If you don't have the support of your Home, because your Home doesn't feel they can afford to make such an investment at this time, you'll need to refigure—meaning you either put your plans on hold for a time or move to a Home or situation where you are able to invest time in the education you want.
102. One reason that our past stance on continuing education was less than favorable was due to our previous "sheltering" mentality, which led to the general feeling that studying for other careers could pull more of our young people out of the Family and away from active service for the Lord, or at the very least could take time away from the mission of witnessing and sharing Jesus with others. In furthering your education today, that latter point is still an important consideration—the time it will take, and whether the additional studies are worth your time. But our stance has changed to acknowledge that it may be worth your time to invest in furthering your skills, so that you come away with what you need to do an even better job, be more fulfilled, more specialized, and able to do even more for the Lord.
103. Having said that, being a professional missionary is a career in itself, and you don't necessarily have to specialize in one particular field in order to be extremely used of the Lord. The Lord will call different ones of us to fill different roles, and the important thing is to find the role He has for you and fill it with your whole heart!
The principal goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done—men who are creative, inventive and discoverers.—Jean Piaget, 1896-1980, Swiss educational psychologist
104. Decisions regarding your children's education are not easy to make. You want to give your children the best, but sometimes there are circumstances that force you to choose the best of what is available to you rather than the ideal you had in mind.
105. In our communal Homes, there are also unique dynamics that come with Home accountability—the parents aren't the only responsible parties; the Home also bears some responsibility, and decisions about the educational methods the Home will employ for the children in the Home are made by a Home vote.
106. (Note: The Charter rule about needing a two-thirds majority vote in order to enroll your children in public or private school no longer stands. The vote is now a simple majority regarding what method you choose to educate your children—whether in the Home, in local schools, or some other alternative.)
107. While the Home bears the responsibility for the education of the children in the Home, and thus the method of education is determined by a Home vote, parents still hold the ultimate responsibility in that they can move if they are not in agreement with the Home's decisions about the care and education of their children. Hopefully most of the time the Home can come to an agreement that everyone—including the parents—is happy with and has the faith for. But if that isn't achievable, the parents can always "vote with their feet" by invoking the right of mobility and moving to a situation that is more suited to what they feel their children need.
108. Here are a few factors to keep in mind as you discuss, pray about, and decide what will be best for the children in your Home and their education.
109. 1) You need to find what works for you and your children. If something seems ideal but isn't workable in your situation, then no matter how ideal it seems, it's not the best for you. That doesn't mean you have to settle for something less in terms of quality, but you might have to settle for something different. Be willing to explore various options in your discussion and research, and be open to new solutions the Lord might want to lead you to. As with many things in life, circumstances won't often be ideal and your options may not be as limitless as you'd like. It's sometimes necessary to make concessions on small issues in order to achieve what's needed on the major ones. You will be faced with these choices when contemplating your schooling options. Focus on the majors, on meeting the most important needs, and be willing to work the smaller needs around the bigger ones.
110. 2) The goal is that all our children and young people receive the best education we can give them—academically, spiritually, morally, and in skill training. When you look at the options for education, consider how your children will best receive education in these four important areas. Weigh the pros and cons. It's likely that one option will provide excellent education in one or two areas, but possibly not in others. So you'll probably need to have a multifaceted plan for how to give your children what they need in all four pillars.
111. 3) When considering what's best for the children in your Home, ask yourself:
112. * What are the needs of the children, keeping in mind that each child is unique and has different needs? In what areas are they strong, and in what areas do they need strengthening? What are the gifts and talents that they could develop further if they had the opportunity? What witnessing opportunities do they have? What are their individual needs, academic or otherwise? Some will blossom at a younger age, others will excel as teens. Be realistic in your expectations. If a child is a little behind in some area, it's not necessarily bad or something to worry about or to base your entire decision on. Look at their overall needs and how the various options would benefit them. Which method to use for your children's education is not an "all or nothing" decision. You could choose to send some grades to school outside your Home while schooling others in the Home. Or some children might need to attend a local school in order to be schooled in a certain language, while others would receive their schooling at home.
113. * What are the abilities of your Home? Do you have qualified teachers who can dedicate their time and focus to adequately filling your children's educational needs at home?
114. * What are the options available for local schools, tutors, or teachers? What are the local schools or classes like?
115. * What are the parents' preferences? The Home as a whole is responsible for the education of the children in their Home, and the decision of which education method to use is a Home decision, but the parents' role in raising their children is long term. They will continue raising their children and being responsible for them and their education for years to come, whether your Home personnel remains the same or not. The parents' long-term vision and desire for their children should be considered carefully.
116. * Keep returning to what is best for the children—which won't necessarily be the same as what is most convenient, practical or affordable. Have faith to claim miracles. The Lord wants to supply what your children need. If tuition at a private school is more than your Home can afford, but it's what you feel is the right choice, consider trying to provision the fees, or find a sponsor, or write relatives for assistance. If homeschooling is what your Home feels would be best but you lack personnel, put out a want ad and start praying in the needed personnel. Consider asking some of your AMs or close friends if they could help more in your Home's witnessing to free someone to devote more time to the children. Or, if they are educators, you could ask them for their help in teaching your children and teens.
117. 4) You might find it helpful for the parents and teachers to discuss and think about this topic before it goes to the Home council for discussion and voting. If they have given thought and prayer to it ahead of time, they'll be able to present the children's needs, the parents' wishes, and the teachers' abilities to the Home for consideration. You might find that it's helpful to let some time pass between the Home discussion and the time when the actual vote is taken, so that everyone can think and pray about and consider the options. You'll want to do any necessary research before the vote is taken, so you're basing your decision on facts. It's a big decision, not one to make lightly or on the spur of the moment.
118. At the same time, what you decide initially doesn't have to be permanent. You can keep looking and exploring the options till you find the option, or combination of options, that works for you, that meets the needs of your children, that is doable for your Home, and that bears good fruit.
119. Ask yourself the following—and other—questions, as often as needed:
* Are the reasons for our decision actually playing out as we thought they would?
* Are our children's needs being met—keeping in mind all four aspects of education?
* Have our children's needs changed since the decision was made, or are new needs surfacing that need to be taken into account?
* How is our decision affecting our Home? Are people happy? Are they remaining spiritually strong? Are we able to accomplish the mission?
120. 5) You're probably not going to find a method that is cheap, easy and effective. To put it simply, education costs. Whatever method you choose, it costs in effort, time, money, resources, patience, in terms of convenience, and in many other ways. But it's worth the cost. Giving your children a good education is something that will help them throughout their lives. It's preparing them to make the right decisions when tough choices come around. It will help to give them the self-confidence they'll need to face challenging opportunities and to succeed. It's preparing them for the times when they'll need to fall back on the discipline and endurance that they learned through studying and passing grades one at a time.
If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.—Derek Bok
121. Building that kind of good foundation takes time. Learning the things that they're going to need throughout the rest of their lives takes time. It takes teaching. It takes an investment. Education is a lifelong experience and investment.
122. These are things that you already know. But I want to remind you of these foundation points as you prepare to decide what method will work best for imparting this gift of education to your children, because if you're looking for an easy and effortless solution, you'll be disappointed. Even if you have access to the best schools, sponsored tuition, teachers who are fully dedicated, an excellent curriculum, and peers who are a good influence on your children—basically, an ideal situation—there's still a lot that your children won't learn in a classroom that you are responsible to teach them.
123. If your children are homeschooled, it requires a substantial investment on the part of the Home to provide the personnel, money, time, and an environment conducive to learning, not to mention investment on the part of the teachers. If your children attend school outside your Home, there will be other investments you'll need to make in their spiritual lives, community interactions, character building, and life skills training that might wind up being as much of an investment as if you were teaching them at home.
124. That's why it's so important to keep coming back to what's best for the children, because no matter what option you choose, it will be an investment—a continuing, costly investment. But I'll say it again: It's worth it!
125. There's no easy path to a good education. Whatever method or combination you choose will require sacrifice and a lot of hard work. But that's the way it is with anything valuable in life—what's worth something costs something. Or, as the Lord reminded us recently, "You get what you pay for."
126. One reason you won't find an easy path to giving your children a complete education is because it involves far more than books and academics. Even if you were to pay someone to provide your children with an excellent academic education, and you were confident that the teachers were capable and that your children were learning, that would still only be a portion of what your children need in the realm of education. Their educational needs go far beyond academics, and much of it can only be taught by you—their parents and the others they live with—and over time. In choosing the options that are best for your children and your Home, Peter and I urge you to look at all the aspects or components of a good education and make provision for each one.
127. Educating outside the Home may be easier in some respects, but it will be more costly in others. It will bring new dynamics into your Home. It will solve some problems or make some aspects of your children's education easier, but it will probably create other problems. If your children are receiving a good portion of their academic education outside the Home, you'll need to be prepared to give more spiritual and character building training when they're at home with you.
128. There will be other challenges if you choose to school your children primarily in the Home. Making certain that all your children are receiving what they need academically, and making sufficient progress, will continue to be a very big focus for your Home to maintain. There are also the life skills and character building and Christian faith aspects, which will continue to need attention, but might not be as challenging to provide as it would be if your children were attending school outside the Home. So again, there will be difficulties that need to be overcome, regardless of the method you choose; they'll just be different difficulties. Being prepared for that is being realistic.
129. I'm not trying to discourage you from pursuing any particular option, nor am I trying to overwhelm you with the magnitude of the job. I am trying to paint a realistic picture of the possibilities that are open to you with this change. For some of you, having additional options will be a solution to some of the problems you've been facing. Most importantly, it will make it possible for all our children to receive a solid academic education whether there are qualified teachers at home or not. But it won't solve all your problems or make educating your children easy. There isn't any option that can do that for you.
130. Peter's and my prayer is that every parent in the Family, and every Home that has children, will be willing to pay the price to give our kids the best education possible. It's a price you have to pay day in and day out, and we know it costs. It costs every parent in the world who has a passion for giving their children a good education. No matter what other circumstances exist in their life, if they want their child to have a good, well-rounded education, it requires that they put effort and time and resources into it.
131. You know it costs too; you know the price well. You make huge sacrifices to give your children what they need, and it's so admirable. People who aren't parents can sometimes hardly understand what would make someone willing to make sacrifices that great, but you understand because you live it every day. That's what parenting is all about. And the beautiful thing about the Family is that so many who aren't parents themselves are parents at heart and willing to make those same sacrifices for the children in their Home. That's true love!
132. No matter what it costs to give our kids what they need, Peter and I believe it's worth it, and you do too. Educating our children is a Family priority. It's worth it because it prepares our children with the foundation they need to do the best they can in life. It's worth it because it teaches our children self-discipline, perseverance, how to complete what they begin, and gives them confidence in their ability to relate to those around them. It's worth it because of the experience and richness it brings into their lives. It's worth it because it's an investment in the future of the world, the future of the Family, the good of mankind. It's worth it because our children deserve the best we can give them, and a well-rounded education is part of that.
133. There is a lot more wonderful counsel from our wise and loving Jesus in the devotional Letter that will follow this one, but here's one promise in closing.
134. (Jesus:) I love your children, and it is My desire to see them continue to progress and grow and become the beautiful men and women that they were created to be. Because I am bringing these changes now, you can trust Me completely and know that these new options are for their benefit.
135. Trust yourselves too, and believe in My Spirit within you, My Word within you, and the years of training you have received, which have prepared you for these decisions and given you more wisdom than you know. You might feel a little unsure about the thought of old boundaries being removed, but the training wheels must come off sometime if you're really going to fly, and now is that time.
136. You are wise enough, connected to Me enough, dependent on Me enough, and well trained enough. You have your priorities in the right place, and I know how much you love your children. All this tells Me that you're ready for this change, and so I have given it.
137. Your children have a wonderful, amazing future ahead of them. In some situations things will change much from the way you're doing things now, and we'll go in a new direction. In other situations we'll mostly leave things as they are, but with some personalized adjustments that you'll really know were of Me. Adjusting to changes is always a little bumpy, but that's okay. I'm in control. Everything is known to Me, and I will help you to get over each and every hurdle. There will be problems, but there will also be lessons and victories. That cycle, My loves, is what life is all about—changing, adapting, learning, growing.
138. You have an advantage in that cycle of life, because you have Me by your side, and you've learned to hear My counsel through prophecy which I'll give you at any time, whenever you ask. Where I guide, I provide. You've lived your lives by that truth so far, and you can continue banking on it until the end.
139. I promise that I will lead you correctly, I promise to speak to you clearly, and I promise to give you the wherewithal to follow Me in the direction I show you to take. What I ask from you is the faith to look beyond the old or the way you've seen the situation up until now, and to seek Me for My will for today with a truly open mind. Seeing with My eyes is what will give you faith, and faith is what will give you the power and the perspective and all that you need to make this change work.
140. Let's give our children the best! Let's set aside the limits of what used to be possible and look at the challenge of education with a fresh vision. I can give you an up-to-date outlook, and I can reveal wonderful solutions that will be spot-on for you and your children.
141. Things are only going to get better through these changes. Anything that lets Me work with you in a more personalized way is good for you. I am moving you away from one-size-fits-all requirements and into the responsibility of finding My specific will for you, and this is for your good—to help you be more personally fruitful, more at peace, more effective.
142. Don't be afraid to let the winds of change move through your educational setup and empower you to meet your children's educational needs in the best possible way. And if you evaluate your situation in light of My counsel and determine that what you've already been doing is working well and is the best option for you and your children and Home, then have faith and peace and proceed; don't feel you have to change your setup just for the sake of change.
143. You don't have to be afraid of anything if you know that I'm in it. Take up the challenge to discover where I'm leading you, and then do whatever I show you with all your heart, because you know I'm with you. My presence is the never-failing, everlasting guarantee of success.
144. The things that really matter have not changed. I remain a faithful Father to your children. I am the Guide Who knows the way. I am still the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Although we're taking a new path, that doesn't change the destination or lessen the joy of the journey. Hold on to that which is enduring—My love and My promises—and let go of the supports that were helpful in the past but are not needed now. Trust that I'll give you what you need for today and tomorrow, when you need it. I love you!
145. * The education of our children is very important. We believe in giving our children a complete education, which comprises their academic education, building their character, training in life skills, and educating them in the Christian life and faith.
146. * Giving our children a good education is part of preparing them to succeed in life—whether they choose a missionary career or a secular one.
147. * It is therefore the responsibility of all Family parents and all communal Homes to provide their children with a well-rounded, adequate education. This is a requirement for all categories of Family membership.
148. * There are no restrictions on the method of schooling for Family children. You are encouraged to explore and pray about the various options in order to find what works best for your children—homeschooling, collaborating with other Family members in a joint homeschool setup, hiring tutors, enrolling your children in part-time or full-time public or private schools, etc.
149. * If you're already successfully educating your children (at home, or they are enrolled in school), you shouldn't feel that you need to change your methods, unless or until you feel some other method will work better. You shouldn't feel obligated to change what you're already doing if it's working for you. But if it's not working well, there are now more options for your consideration. The goal is that your children receive a good and well-rounded education in whatever way will meet their needs.
150. * Regardless of what method of education you choose, giving your children a good education is a costly, long-term investment. Be prepared to put a lot into it, but know that it will be worth it!
151. * We support continued learning and study and post–high school education. The responsibility to "make it happen," however, lies with the individual, in accordance with their desire, means, and the agreement of their Home. In such a case, it would also be the responsibility of the individual to keep his or her spiritual life strong and to continue contributing to the mission and the Home. This applies to Family members of any age who feel that studying or taking a course would help them to be more useful in their service to the Lord; it also applies to young people who haven't yet decided on a career path, who may want to do some studies while deciding what is right for them. They are welcome to do so from within the Home, if the Home is in agreement and they continue to contribute to the Home in an acceptable measure.
152. * The details of our education policy will be outlined in the Charter, Missionary Member Statutes, and Statement on Fellow Members.
153. * We can't try to protect our children and Homes from all outside influences—it's not effective, and will be even less so as we become more inclusive and more immersed in the Offensive and reaching the world. We instead need to prepare our children to be examples of love and integrity, and to make the right decisions and have conviction, even in the face of negative influences.
154. * The CP, JT and ED boards will do what they can to assist you in the care and education of your children, but the responsibility to give your children a well-rounded education and good care lies with you—the parents, and the Home.
155. To close, here are a few paragraphs of some of the tremendous promises the Lord gave about our children and young people and their education when we were preparing to launch the Offensive. In reviewing these promises now, it's encouraging that the Lord is opening even more doors for these promises to be fulfilled—not only through witnessing and winning, which is an avenue He's sure to use, but also through your seeking and knocking and taking advantage of other opportunities He provides in the way of local classes, tutors, partial or full enrollment in good schools, and more.
156. We haven't yet seen the full fulfillment of these awe-inspiring promises, but I know we will, as you put feet to your prayers, dear Family. Our children are going to have the best of the best!
157. Listen to what the Lord said:
The future of your children and young people is an outstanding one! I see their future as being loaded with opportunities for growth spiritually, mentally, educationally, artistically, and professionally. What you can presently provide for them as their parents, and as a Home, is limited. But the opportunities they will have in the future and the doors that I will fling open through your obedience to fulfill My great commission, through the contacts and professionals that you will meet, through the new members and laborers that I will add to the Family, will be unmatched.
They are privileged to be youth at this time, because the benefits they'll experience in their lives are going to create in them such wealth—both spiritually and physically. Your children and young people of today are going to be pampered by Me as they learn to give of the great abundance that they have received. As they learn to pour out and give to others, they will be given every opportunity to be cutting edge and au courant. There are no limits to what I will do for them, what I will supply for them, and the education and upbringing that I will provide for them (ML #3686:33,38, GN 1247).
There are no limits! There is no end! There are no restrictions! I will give you whatever you need—from finances, to educational materials, to teachers, to time, to inventive ideas, to solutions, to miracles, and most of all, opportunities for growth and stretching and giving and greater happiness, for both you and your children. Take Me at My word! That's all there is to it! Then there will be no loss, only gain, as you pave the way for the glorious future through your solid faith and belief in Me and what I promise to do for you and yours.
I have the best of the best, masters in their fields, just waiting to meet you, to benefit you and your children and young people. I've been preparing them in answer to your proactive prayers. So all that remains is for you to put feet to those prayers! Start knocking on the doors, and I'll start a downpour of miracles from the clouds of the proactive prayers you've been stocking up. Whatever you want for your children and young people, it's My pleasure to give exactly that to you. I love your children and young people. They are some of the most important people in the world. They and their care are My top priority.
There are educators and teachers and professionals galore around the globe, and many of them are destined to help you, to support you, and to pour into your children and young people. These people are trained for the express purpose of being able to aid you. Find them, meet them, give them My Words, challenge them, and see Me inundate you with all that you deserve (ML #3686:44, GN 1247).
158. It doesn't get much better than that! So step out in faith and see what the Lord has prepared to fill the educational needs of your children and teens, and what doors He opens on their behalf. He has them in mind, and He has you in mind. He's our wonderful Husband, and where He guides, He provides. This is the way He's guiding, so we know He has prepared the way.
With love and prayers for you and yours,
Copyright © 2009 by The Family International