Educators Are Feeding the Nation
School Leader Bible Study
April 2, 2020
Educators Are Feeding the Nation
Dear School Leaders,
The devotional below was sent less than a month ago to affirm how so many educators bless “the least of these, My brethren” (Matt. 25:40) through the simple act of feeding them every day. The message was meant for the child nutrition workers and any educator who has ever fed a child as part of their calling as public educators. How little did we know! Three weeks later . . . educators everywhere are daily feeding “the least of these” as schools are closed across the nation! Entire districts have stepped in to assist child nutrition staff. And now, firsthand, many of us have seen the joy and the fear in their eyes when offered a simple meal – in the eyes of children and parents. You have literally become the front lines for families when many are losing their jobs and food supplies are unreliable at times. In my district, we have already served thousands of meals. If you have ever doubted that God has called you to serve as an educator in a public school, take a deep breath and thank HIM for putting you where you are for such a time as this.
Please take a moment to read last month’s devotional through the lens of recent events:
Teaching the Least of These: Hungry and Thirsty
From the Week of March 8, 2020 by Tom Deighan
Two interesting facts from schoolnutrition.org: schools serve 29.8 million school lunches and 14.71 million school breakfasts each day. That’s nearly 45 million children served each day in the United States! For perspective, McDonalds serves about 69 million people worldwide daily, but only about 1/3 of their restaurants are in the United States (or approximately 22 million people). This means your school cafeteria is twice as successful as Ronald McDonald!
As Christians who happen to also be educators, we can easily take certain things for granted because we see them every day. We work with incredible men and women who have likewise answered the calling to serve children, no matter their need or condition. And quite often, they meet the most basic of needs like food. Anyone who has ever served in a school knows those children who relish their time in the cafeteria, for it was the only time they could count on a healthy meal. They will literally run to the serving line if we let them.
We recently started a series exploring how Jesus’ description of His followers in Matthew 25:35-36 contains several parallels to educators serving in public schools: “’I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’” Most of the people receiving this devotional are educators in the classroom sense, but I believe that anyone who serves in a school is an educator in the purest sense of the word. All of us have chosen a career that includes “the least of these,” and many of you believe God called you to this profession. This includes those of you who have answered the call to feed the children of your community.
Once again, I must caution against misapplying scripture, for Jesus never mentioned us and government services can never replace His church. Nevertheless, millions of children each day could really care less how or why they are served meals. They simply know that you feed them every day without exception and without judgment.
Many people, including Christians, criticize public schools, often for valid reasons. Unfortunately, this often means educators called to serve in public schools feel unsupported by their own churches and by their own elected officials. Nevertheless, you serve. You have chosen to give “one of these little ones” a cup of cold water as your job. I wonder if anyone thinks Jesus’ words do not apply because you serve them in school instead? “Whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42)
No one goes to work in a school cafeteria to get rich, just like no one becomes a pastor or missionary to become wealthy. Something else drives these educators, and for many of them, it is the call to serve “the least of these.” This does not just include food service staff, because regardless of your role in education, you have undoubtedly provided food or drink to “the least of these.” As Christians called to serve in public schools, you feed them snacks so they can focus on their work. You send backpacks of food home on the weekends. And on field trips, you bring extra money because invariably, “one of these little ones” will not have anything to eat otherwise.
My mom ran a school cafeteria. She also ran a prison cafeteria. She was 5 feet tall and 98 pounds, soaking wet, but no one gave her any lip (especially in the prison). They respected her because she fed them all, without question and without judgment, as do so many of you. So please share this devotional with your colleagues who feed “the least of these” in your school. Their work is beyond important: it literally gives life, and it glorifies God. I know many of the 4.8 billion lunches served annually pass through believers’ hands. As a Christian who also happens to be an educator, you are doing God’s work among those who need His love the most. You may not be able to preach, but you can love them and feed them in His name every day. You have answered the call to America’s greatest mission field: the neighborhood public school. And I certainly believe that you will not lose your reward for feeding “the least of these.”
Please share this devotional with someone who needs encouragement. Sign up for the devotional at www.tomdeighan.com Copyright Tom Deighan, all rights reserved.