There’s not much in my community for homeschoolers to find co-ops that view diversity as a positve thing. The very few groups I have read about either require you to believe the same religion as them, or be a paying member of an organization that is also connected to another religious organization. While I have no problem whatsoever with groups forming their own organizations and their own rules, but I have found that it really limits my family from being able to participate.
When I think about how the apostle Paul said, “I become all things to all people”, I think deeply about what it must be like to be a missionary in a foreign land where no one is just like you. There are missions in inner cities in America that are so diverse with languages, cultures, and races that there’s no way a missionary with a homeless shelter can possibly expect that they will ever be able to have friends ‘just like them’.
But is that what being a Christian is all about? Making everyone be just like us before we will love them? (Don’t forget the Good Samaritan.)
I have hopes that one day my children will be responsible, compassionate adults who extend the grace of God to others and who can be diplomatic in all their relationships, neighborhoods, and businesses. What if one of my children grows up to go to a foreign field and they are too afraid to go, because I have kept them in a religious bubble their whole lives?
The topic of socialization among homeschoolers is a big one! We live in America, which School House Rock’s song says is the ‘Great American Melting Pot’. Sunday School teachers sing that Jesus loves all the little children no matter what color they are, but the adults show that he doesn’t when they reject helping someone on the street who is homeless and of a different race.
We went to Disneyland last summer and rode on ‘It’s a Small World’. I can’t tell you how many times I have been on that ride in my lifetime (California girl here) and this last time I sat in that slow moving boat I was moved to tears.
Little dolls representing children from all over the world. Happy, singing, and enjoying life in all kinds of cultures, regions, and religions. Their cute little doll feet prancing, hoola-ing (is that a word?), and even children with white wraps around their heads. What does this Disney ride teach us, but to love our neighbor as ourselves and embrace the diversity of the children of the world?
…the children God created.
And it hits me. Am I raising my children to reject God’s creations? All these beautiful children who are appointed to be born in other countries, with different languages, cultures, and religions. All created in the image of God.
But at some point, as they are growing up, people begin to loose their love for all of the children of the world and rejection becomes a way of life. Yet, grace is not about rejection, it’s about being included.
And so our family’s hearts have been opened and enlarged to embrace the diversity of our world, our nation, and our homeschool circles. How will my children ever be able to have diplomatic conversations with all sorts of people? In our ministry, we reach people of all kinds and I don’t want our children to snub someone if they come to us for food in religious attire that is not like most American clothing. My husband and I want our children to be kind, to extend grace, and to love their neighbors as themselves.
Over the last 15 years we have always been compassionate towards those coming out of prison or addiction, since our families have been affected by these things before. But when it came to other denominations and even world religions, we weren’t as accepting. We had become judgmental. In the past couple of years, we have come to understand that our judgmentalism was deeply rooted in fear.
Then the Spirit spoke…
1 John 4: 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19We love because he first loved us.
2 Timothy 1:7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
And so how does one overcome the fear of people of alternative religions, cultures, and languages?
It’s all by faith. We realized that when we became firmly rooted in our faith, that we had nothing to fear.
We no longer fear people who believe or live differently than we do. We simply study up about their ways and become educated. It has given us a fantastic opportunity to teach our children what it means to be diplomatic and in turn it has taught us all a few things about being humble.
The more we learn about how gracious God is, the more He humbles us. And each time he humbles us to greater depths, he gives us more diverse friends to embrace. It’s been such a blessing to have friends that resemble Disney’s ride, ‘It’s a Small World’.
What we discovered is that people who are different than us, have many of the same desires we have..to understand each other and to have friends. When I see graphics in books with children of all different countries, holding hands around the globe, I think to myself… I want to be like that. I want my children to be open to being like that. And many of our new diverse friends feel the same way.
It surely is a small world after all.
And so we embrace the diversity in our community, our country, our world, and we welcome that diversity among our homeschool outings and I pray that we can meet more homeschool folks who will also embrace diversity.
I have been working all summer on my photography and have opened a new page to show off my best work. I will be sharing what I have learned along the way on the new blog at Pix-O-Sphere that is soon to launch. I hope you’ll enjoy the photos.