By Dr. Kevin Thomas —
I walked through the dirt roads of a community in Mexico with Mario. I met him at the site where we were building a church for the remote village of about 6000 people. Stick houses with thatched roofs lined the dirt roads. There were water faucets in each front yard, the only source of water. Most of the huts had a single light bulb hanging in the middle of their one small room. I did notice an antenna and asked Mario if there were any televisions in the village. He answered that he thought there were three. Then he asked, “Do they have televisions where you come from?” “Yes, we have televisions, too,” I answered. I didn’t have the heart to tell him there were three in my house. I asked him about school. He said that in his village he could go to school through the 6th grade. To get any more education, he would have to travel to another town quite a distance away. I’d only seen a couple of vehicles in the whole village. I didn’t figure 7th grade would be a possibility for Mario. Most likely, Mario will live his life in those dirt streets, live and die in a stick hut, without the opportunity to discover the vast, marvelous world that surrounds him. He’ll miss opportunities that were only two hundred miles away.
Education is liberation. For centuries, people in power have refused education to people to maintain their oppression. Slave owners in the antebellum south limited educational opportunities to African-Americans. Many Islamic countries forbid girls to go to school. The Third Reich burned books that contained information subversive to the cause. Uneducated people are easier to oppress. In a similar way, poverty traps people in oppression. Without to opportunity to learn, there is little chance of escape.
It’s not surprising that the church has often led the charge to teach. Before laws protected, children from working in sweat shops throughout the week, the church devised a plan to teach children to read and write. We called it Sunday school. As Methodism swept across America, we built school houses along with our church buildings. God still calls us to educate. Too many of our neighbors are trapped in poverty, a trap they’ll not escape without an education.
Thank you for all you already do! Let’s continue to lead the charge to liberate people through education!