Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

When I was thirteen years old, I transferred from an affluent school district into Southern Maine Christian School, a new school meeting in a former Catholic building called the St. Louis Home. My new classroom was a room across the hall from the kitchen that served the cafeteria. I had the only traditional school desk - the old school wooden kind with the seat attached to the desk which had a top that opened. My classmates sat around tables on mismatched chairs. There were no lockers or intercoms, no bells or drinking fountains like I was used to. We had old, second hand books. My teacher sat a table and wrote on a chalkboard that had seen better days in its youth. I stayed in the same classroom all day except for lunch and recess. There was no band, no sports, no school bus to pick me up and take me home every day - no anything that I had been accustomed to in my nice public school. It would seem I had been deprived of much.

Yet I thrived.

I discovered that God had given me a good mind and that I had value in the eyes of God and my teachers. I learned a lot and became a straight-A student. I moved with my family to Lenox, Massachusetts and attended Stevens Christian School where I continued to grow as a student, graduating as valedictorian of both my high school and Bible college classes before moving on into community college and then a four year college where I graduated summa cum laude. I do not say this to exalt myself, but to point out that, yes, something good can come out of Nazareth.

Two thousand years ago, Nazareth was an unremarkable, provincial town. There was nothing special about Nazareth. People did not move to Nazareth for the good schools, the cultural offerings, or any other quality of life amenities. Joseph and Mary may have moved there to be close to relatives and for Joseph to do carpentry work. It was not the likely place for a messiah-king to grow up, yet Luke's gospel tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and men while living in Nazareth. His heavenly Father prepared him to overcome the world in humble Nazareth.

Southern Maine Christian School, Stevens Christian School, Greater Grace Christian Academy - all of these may appear by sight to be a Nazareth. A school in a former shopping plaza in northeast Baltimore? With no acres of green athletic fields? Can anything good come out of such a place? 

Oh, well, maybe the students there will get some good Bible teaching, because it is a Christian school, after all, and there is a church and Bible college on the same campus, so it ought to have some decent Bible teachers...but students at that school probably aren't getting a very good academic education...I mean, well, just look at the place. And everyone knows that if a school has an emphasis on spirituality then it probably is going to sacrifice something academically, especially when students are challenged to go to Bible college and become missionaries and pastors...I mean, really, how much education do you need to do that? If I want my child to have a chance to get somewhere in life, maybe I should consider some other bigger school where there are more sports and more college preparatory classes. I went to public schools and I turned out okay, right?

My hackles rise when people intimate that Greater Grace Christian Academy students are being slighted academically because we place a value on spirituality and considering the call of God to Bible college education. I am also riled up by those who feel that academics are unimportant because someone is going to be a pastor or a missionary. Why do people think that academics and spirituality are mutually exclusive, that one must suffer at the expense of the other? Jesus was spiritual and academically learned - he grew in wisdom (academics) and stature (he physically matured) and in favor with God (spirituality) and men (social growth). As children of our heavenly Father, we can be academically brilliant and spiritually vibrant, and at GGCA we desire each student to achieve in all areas. This is why our curriculum meets or exceeds state standards. This is why we are constantly working to improve not only our curriculum, but also our pedagogy as we send teachers to conferences, workshops, and universities for training and bring experts to our school for in-service teacher training. This is why even students who may seem merely average when judged by their high school grades outperform their college classmates, elicit commendation from their professors, and receive scholarships for their academic excellence. 

Did you know that in addition to physical education, four years of English, two years of foreign language, four half-years of computer (resulting in MOS certification), three years of science (including chemistry and physics), three years of social studies (including government and economics), and three years of mathematics (including pre-calculus) we now offer our students courses in composition, speech, and apologetics to prepare them for college? Our students also attend Bible class or chapel every school day, participate in community outreach, and have the opportunity in their senior year to be dually enrolled in college classes. They are exposed to the lives of godly men and women throughout the school day and are encouraged to compete in sports after school and to participate in Christian youth activities at home and on weekends and throughout the summer. There are abundant opportunities for young men and women to make their own which will prepare them spiritually, academically, socially, and physically for whatever God has in store for them in this life. Sadly, some cannot see their opportunities here in Nazareth.

So, do I think that any good thing can come out of Nazareth? 
Heck, yeah!

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