Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Walking Down a Historical Path.

At the small Christian school where I work, field trips seem to be a novelty at times. The reason is rather simple: the principal (who is also the main teacher for the math and science classes) is so busy trying to make sure the school runs properly that he doesn't really have time to sit around thinking up amazing field trips that the kids will talk about for years.

Of course when *I* went to school, there was only one field trip we talked about all the time: the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. But we didn't talk about it in glowing terms with lots of happy memories. No, if Mr. Anger (btw, how's that for a principal's name?!?!) mentioned the words "field trip" and "Franklin Institute" in the same sentence, there were groans. Literal groans. I think a field trip to a factory where they make push pins might have been more exciting. There wasn't anything wrong with the Franklin Institute, it was just that we went there every year.

So it somehow became my responsibility to be in charge of field trips this year. Today we finally took our first one of this year; not bad considering we're 1/3 of the way through the second quarter! We tried to plan a trip before this, but between volleyball and soccer practices/games, special meetings at church, and a special junior/senior trip to DC, it just wasn't possible.

We happen to live in a very historical section of our state so for this field trip I chose The Moravian Museum in Historic Bethlehem. I grew up in Bethlehem and passed by this museum several times since it was on the way to the library, but never went inside. I am very interested in history and figured if it got the kids out of school for the day, they wouldn't mind :o). The bonus was we had never taken the kids to this place, although a long time ago a teacher took one of the grades there.

I realized once we got there that this specific tour was probably geared for 4th-6th grade students (it was funny to see tall 18-year-old Eric trying to fit on a carpet square:D), but I enjoyed learning about a culture of long ago. I don't think the teens took too well to being called "boys and girls" by the tour guide, but they eventually warmed up.

The thing that struck me the most about the Moravians was their passion for God. True, they did things very differently than we would today. We learned how everyone was split into a choir: Young girls choir, Young boys choir, Single girls choir, Single guys choir, married choir, etc and lived with that choir; gender-separated of course. They also took an 18-month old child and put them in a house where the single and young girls would raise them. From 5 years old and on, boys and girls were separated until they married and the way they got married was by choosing lots. Once you were married, your basic goal was to be a missionary. If you had a child, you left them behind and went out into the world to evangelize. I realize that this is not ideal at all to leave behind your child(ren) (nor Biblical, I might add), but their passion is admirable.

Another practice they had was to divide everyone up into two groups: the home group and the pilgrim group. What this meant was the home group stayed behind to build the buildings, work the land, and give all they earned to missions while the pilgrim group learned the languages and customs of the Indians (or whomever they were going to minister to) and actually went out as missionaries. Imagine that! They were intent on sending out someone from their group to go to a foreign place with a foreign language and actually live with the people they were evangelizing!

A guy in my group, Ben, got tired pretty quick of being told "he" was John so-and-so (they were given name tags of people who lived back then and found out about their lives) who was a missionary to the Ohio territory for 50 years. 50 years! The tour guide never said if he came back during that time, but I seriously doubt it for travel was hard.

I got to thinking about missions from this perspective. True, they were twisted in their child-rearing thinking and a few other things, but each of them knew they had a job to do in order for everything to run smoothly. Everyone worked together; there were no paying jobs. A lot of the money they received for goods they made went towards missions.

So if it was assumed and understood then, why do we have a struggle with it now? Jesus gave the Great Commission; end of story. Just go do it. There was a man baptized on Sunday night who made the comment, "This church helps me to fulfill the 'go ye' part of the commission". Missions is personal; throwing money towards Faith Promise isn't enough. I wonder if we have too many today sitting in the "home group" when they know they're supposed to be in the "pilgrim group".


Anonymous said...

Good obeservations!

I had to laugh at your mention of Franklin Institute. I'll never forget the time we went and my group got a brand new tour guide. By the end of the day, we were the ones practically giving the tour, because in some ways, we knew more than the person the museum had hired! LOL!

Happymama said...

Wow, that's a great post, Anne. Very convicting.