Pressing On

Pressing On

Philippians 3:14: I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

 I don’t know if you saw the recent story in the Washington (or is it the Amazon.com) Post about 21-year-old Josh Powell, a young man who recently enrolled in Georgetown University. However, he didn’t follow a conventional path to get there.

Josh Powell had been home schooled by his parents under Virginia’s religious exemption law that allows parents to educate their children if they feel the school system conflicts with their religious beliefs.

By the time Josh was 16, he had never written an essay. He didn’t know South Africa was a country. He couldn’t solve basic algebra problems.

Not only are children like Josh excused from attending school — as those educated under the state’s home-school statute are — but they also are exempt from all government oversight.

School officials don’t ever ask them for transcripts, test scores or proof of education of any kind: Parents have total control.

He asked his parents whether he could enroll in school. When they said no, he researched Virginia law. He found that was their decision to make under the law.

In 2008, he wrote to Buckingham school officials, telling the board that he didn’t share his parents’ religious objections to public school and asking to enroll.

He said the administrator he spoke with was kindly but dismissive.

Finally, Josh wrote to the Buckingham County School Board again, telling it that he had siblings who wanted to attend school and that by law, officials must consider their views as well as his parents’.

It said no.

He Googled “financial aid” and applied to Piedmont Virginia Community College. A neighbor gave him a ride, an hour each way every day, until he had earned enough to afford an apartment nearby. It was terrifying, he said, as he was unsure how to behave in a classroom or whether he was going to embarrass himself answering questions. But he was thrilled.

Josh eventually found a way to get several years of remedial classes and other courses at a community college. “With the addition of lectures, the structure, the support, the tutoring — things just finally clicked. I remember my first semester sitting in my developmental math class. No one wanted to be there except for me. I was thinking, ‘Oh, my God, I have a chance to learn!’ ”

Now he’s studying at Georgetown University.

He still feels like he’s missing some fundamental knowledge, with gaps in science, history and English. “Not having read any of the standard high school literature, people make references I don’t get,” he said.

Most of all, he worries about his siblings: There are 11. One, old enough to be well into middle school, can’t read, Powell said.

Now he’s trying to get his brothers and sisters into school, to ensure that they don’t have to work as hard as he did to catch up — or get left behind, as he almost was.

As we’ve been thinking about determination this week, I think that Josh Powell is the embodiment of determination. He overcame what seemed to be insurmountable odds to achieve what many of us take for granted. We can learn much from him as believers, when it seems that that whatever we are trying to achieve is faced with incredible obstacles. As Paul wrote, “I press on.” Josh Powell pressed on and, by the grace of God, so should me.

 

 

 

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A Touching and Inspiring Story

Persistence
Romans 5: 3-5: We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;perseverance, character; and character, hope.And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

If you believe in education, in the human spirit, and in God touching the hearts of his children, you will find this story of an eight-year-old Tanzanian girl to be both touching and inspiring. I know I tend to complain when I also know that most of us are blessed beyond all measure.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-23239800

O Beautiful

O Beautiful 2 Chronicles 7:14: If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

America

 Founded by eighteenth English colonial aristocrats who used seventeenth century British philosophers and classical figures and forms of government as their guide

 Whose signature foods (frankfurters and hamburgers) are named after German cities, even if they didn’t necessarily originate with German immigrants

 Whose educators educate (or attempt to educate) every child, regardless of origin, status, position, ability or income

 Whose national anthem originated as a poem written under fire by a detainee during the War of 1812 and then set to the tune of a popular British club song

 Where most people welcome diversity of race, culture and religion

 One of whose most beautiful patriotic songs was written by a poet after seeing the vista from atop Pike’s Peak.  She rode up on a mule.

 Whose citizens sacrifice their sons’ and daughters’ blood and lives for the cause of freedom and justice around the world

 Whose troops, once the war is over, do not permanently occupy a land but return home to resume their lives

 Whose people reach out and help rebuild countries they have defeated in war

 Whose political process most closely resembles a free-for-all but which results in progress for the common good

 Whose society has social, cultural and political problems but works to solve them

 Whose people give generously to those in need, no matter who or where they are

 Whose citizens do not live in a utopia, an Eden or even a city on a hill, but who are making progress toward that ideal

 Whose national music was created by those brought to these shores out of their suffering, pain and hope

 Whose music is diverse, energetic and ever fresh

 Whose music was taken in by a bunch of young British kids in the ‘60’s and brought back to these shores in the British Invasion, changing the face of popular music forever

 Whose military serves the people and the President and not the other way around

 Whose system of justice works to guarantee rights even to the dispossessed, the powerless and the unpopular

 Whose people enjoy unparalleled freedom of expression, association and mobility simply by virtue of living here

 Where people come from all over the world for opportunities that do not exist in other places

 Where the airplane, the light bulb, Velcro and Post-It notes were all invented

 Whose scientists and engineers sent men to the moon, not to claim it as territory, but in peace for all humankind

 A place where rags to riches stories do come true

 Whose writers have produced a literature that is profound and authentic, drawing on unique American experiences

 A place of deep faith, hard workers, incredible resources, incomparable natural beauty, and immeasurable blessings

 What a country! God shed his grace on thee!