This is the sixth in a series of “My Story” articles. My hope is that in reading my story it will inspire others to write their own. Our nation and our children need average, everyday people like you and me to become engaged in our communities. Where is God leading you? You can read the entire series at www.idahovaluesalliance.com.
Politically speaking, 1994 was historic; both for America and for my family. For the first time in 40 years Republicans took control of both houses of Congress and for the second time in less than four years I received a significant phone call that would propel me to places I never dreamed I’d go.
On the other end of the phone was the executive director of an Abstinence Education curriculum company based out of Atlanta, Georgia. The ED asked me to write a teacher-training component to their Sexual Abstinence program. Folks, don’t forget; I am a pastor. I am not a certified teacher and I had never written any kind of curriculum much less a teacher training manual.
Again I found myself fulfilling a request for which I was totally unqualified. Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” was becoming a tangible reality.
Honestly, at first I was hesitant. I felt much like the disciples when they asked Jesus how they would know what to say to people about Him. Remember, what Jesus said? He assured them that he would give them the words. As I wrote, I prayed that Jesus would literally give me the words these teachers needed to hear through this training.
A major part of my preparation was teaching this curriculum. But teaching the curriculum to middle school students is nothing compared to teaching teachers to teach the curriculum! Let’s just say I was just a little nervous.
Soon the project was complete and the first training was scheduled. The training was held in northeast Georgia; the location was White County in the beautiful north Georgia mountains.
The majority of the teacher training was selling the abstinence message. I knew the first step was convincing teachers to believe in the abstinence message. Studies have shown over and over again that the crucial element in abstinence education isn’t the curriculum, it is the teacher. A school board can provide the best material, but if the teacher does not believe in the message the students will have a negative experience damaging the student’s view of abstinence.
The one-day training went well and I was feeling pretty good; that is until the end when the participants were asked to evaluate the training. What were they going to write? This training was my baby. I had written and conducted this training. As they began to write, the silence was deafening. I know it was only for 10 minutes, but this evaluation period seemed to take forever!
One-by-one everyone finished; as they walked out each one cordially thanked me. Of course they were nice. This is the South; you don’t tell people to their face that your training stinks!
After the last teacher left the room, I immediately read the evaluations.
They were all glowingly positive! I could not believe it; they actually liked my training and recommended that we provide this training to teachers across the state. Well, the state must have been listening. In Georgia we were blessed to have Christian people in the HIV/AIDS Prevention office of the State Department of Education. Little did I know they were looking for someone to train Georgia teachers in HIV/AIDS prevention. The abstinence organization that I worked with was awarded the bid to provide this training.
Now, this small-town pastor found himself training thousands of teachers across Georgia. School assemblies, parent training and community consulting soon followed. This continued for three years.
If indeed Idaho is the most conservative state in America, Georgia runs a close second. In the mid-1990’s the Georgia state legislature wrote into law that Planned Parenthood sponsored Teen Clinics must receive instruction in Abstinence education in order to keep their state funding. The only person in Georgia who had any experience in abstinence training on the state level? You guessed it; me.
This is when things began to get rough. The Georgia Department of Health hired me for a 10 city tour; each session was packed with hundred’s of Teen Clinic workers.
For the first time in my life I met evil face-to-face. The confrontations from this point forward in my journey were real and consequential. I never realized the extent of Satan’s desire to take out our youth and destroy the family; and our government is an accomplice.
For me, John 10:10 became a daily and growing reality. As you read Jesus’ words in the verse below, think of the youth of our nation. You see folks, Evil is real and right now in America, Evil is winning. (And by the way; the capitalization of the letter “E” in Evil is not a typo.)
“The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Don’t miss the next edition.
The Moral Liberal, Contributing Editor, Gary Brown, is the President of the Idaho Values Alliance, and Founder and Executive Director of Reach America