by Makoto Matsumoto

“Let’s move to the countryside when our children are born,” my dad told my mom, “and give them a homeschool education.” Shortly after I was born, my dad sold the company and properties he owned in Tokyo and moved to the countryside of Korea. It required financial sacrifice, but it was most important for my parents to educate their children according to the words of God. It was indeed such an unusual decision, especially in a country where even the word “homeschool” is unknown, that some reporters visited my family. We were featured in a newspaper,   a magazine, and a TV program.

Why Homeschool?

The main reason for my parents’ decision was the influence of worldly friends during the youth of their family. Sister White wrote that “In sending children to the public schools, parents are placing them under demoralizing influences – influences that injure the morals and habits. In such surroundings, children often receive instruction that trains them to be enemies of Christ. They lose sight of piety and virtue.” –Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 200.

My parents wanted to spiritually and physically separate the family from the world, like John the Baptist had been in the wilderness. A church school might have been a better option, but our church was newly established in Korea and church school was not available until my parents established one later, in 2008. Therefore, they chose to homeschool. Soon, they had to meet some challenges.

Career Challenge

In my country, homeschool students need to take two tests before moving on to post-secondary education. The first is the General Education Development (GED) test. It should prove that my academic skills are equivalent to high school graduation. However, the test was given only on Sabbaths, with no exception. Homeschooling  was making it very difficult to pursue my future career plans.

The words of God in Matthew 5:29 were an encouragement to my family. “And if thy right eye offends thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” The future of sons and daughters might be hard, but it is worth choosing
homeschooling rather than letting children become dull to sins by going to public school.

When I was almost old enough to take the test, the church in Japan opened, after ten years of roadblocks. And God sent my family to Japan as missionaries. When we moved there, I found that the GED test is given on weekdays.

The challenges, however, continued.  I had to take admission tests for colleges and universities, and they were all given on Sabbath, with no exceptions. With prayer, I looked into going to college in other countries. It was indeed hard to find a school that would accept a homeschooled international student. But I did find some schools in Canada that God had “kept” for me. I also discovered that Canadian immigration policy had changed just a few months before and would now accept more immigrants.

Now, another challenge arose. I had only a few months left to move to almost the opposite side of the earth. With only limited information about Canada, I had to find a place to live there. But shortly after I started to look for  housing, a friend in the church sent me a text: “Hey! I heard you are coming to Canada! I am going to the same school you are. Come and live with me.”

Following God’s education plan had led me to face many challenges. Every time I faced a difficulty, however, I found that God had already prepared the solution.

Academic Education

Many misconceptions exist about Christian education, especially homeschooling, claiming that it excludes academic education. But this is untrue. True home schooling includes studying general education as well as preparing for a career. Intellectual growth in logic and understanding helps children to learn the Bible more thoroughly. Children also learn self-management and temperance through studying. It is difficult for most parents to teach their children,
however, as their grade levels rise.

“The future of sons and
daughters might be hard,
but it is worth choosing
homeschooling rather than
letting children become
dull to sins by going to
public school. ”

My parents focused on learning skills and study habits. I was trained to improve concentration power through brain exercise and daily Bible verse memorization. This training later helped me to study all subjects on my own with books, correspondence courses, and online recorded lectures.

Another advantage of homeschool is that students can study each subject on their own time line. For subjects in which children are talented, they can study faster, while they can take their time with subjects they find difficult. This allows them to make sure that they understand each step of the academic pathway. To do this, parents need to know the talents and traits of their children very well.

First Priority

The definition of Christian education is to grow children up into the likeness of God. Many parents focus on bringing wealth and honour to their children, through better schools and better careers. However, God asks us a very important question: What is a truly good life? Is it more important to have a stable life in the world – or to live eternally with Jesus even if life on this earth brings us some hard times? To those who seek after wealth and honour, God said: “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20).

My parents included Bible study as the most essential subject in my daily schedule.

They also regarded the teenage years as the most important period for this education. Many great men in the Bible, like Joseph and Daniel, were teenagers when they purposed in their hearts to devote their lives to God. Therefore, when I reached high school age, my parents made me read chapters of The Conflict of the Ages series of Sister White every day. They even reduced the amount of my academic study to allow a certain time for this reading. This study prepared my heart to become steady and firm before becoming independent and facing the world alone.

Loneliness

My greatest personal challenge was loneliness. I did not have many chances to meet friends except on Sabbaths or at conferences. I used to feel lonely, and it was difficult for me since I have a social nature. But this loneliness turned out to be a huge blessing. If I had given up homeschooling, I would have given all my attention to friends. I would have been eager to become one of them, stepping deeper into the world. Also, I would not have spent time reading the Bible and meditating, but would have hung out with other young people. I needed God to force me to have some private time with Him by cutting me off from them. Thus my hardest challenge turned out to be the perfect personal training of God. When I realized and appreciated all these things, God sent me many friends, both inside and outside of the church.

Conclusion

Homeschool is not the absolute solution for all education. Depending on the country, the choice of homeschool might be limited by governmental policy. Also, if a church school is available, it would be an even better option. The educational method should be considered also based on the traits and personalities of the individual child. But whatever it might be, there is one absolute truth – faith in God is the key to education.

Education is indeed a huge pressure and responsibility for parents, especially when they think about how the destiny of children in this life and the next life rely so much on the parents. There is no surprise that parents feel anxious when they can’t see what will happen to the futures of their sons and daughters. God, however, requires faith even for educating children.

Salvation is all by faith. But each human has to cooperate. Education is not different from salvation. Certainly, parents have to cooperate with God. They have to observe their children and know their traits, nature, talents, interests, and characteristics. They have to study the words of God and pray day and night to know the will of God about their children’s education. The ultimate result of education, however, is in the hand of God.

The future of our children may seem unsure. Sometimes it might seem that following the will of God will bring some disadvantages to them. That is when we need to remember that children are just entrusted to parents by God. God is the true parent of each child.

He is the ONE who educates our children. He takes care of each boy and girl as if he or she is the only child on this earth. If parents trust and follow Him, He will raise our children better than what we parents could imagine.

When parents trust God’s method and place their children into the hand of God, He himself will raise them. If parents live on the plan of addition, God will work for them on the plan of multiplication.

Please remember to download the Week of Prayer Readings for Children from our website.

“The definition of
Christian education
is to grow children
up into the likeness
of God.”

 

by Makoto Matsumoto
Nursing Student | Japan / Canada

 

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