“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NRSV
It’s been a year and nine months since a Friday in March, 2020 when we heard that schools would have to close and go to E-learning indefinitely, because of a coronavirus called COVID-19. In a matter of just three days, we managed to send home a mountain of textbooks, workbooks and assignments, organize Google classrooms with Google Meet apps or Zoom meetings, and started conducting classes via computer, a process that has become known as “E-Learning.” We had absolutely no idea what to expect, and no idea how long the viral pandemic would last.
The word “weary” in the verse that I cited is a little bit of an old-fashioned term, but I think it accurately describes how everyone is feeling at this point. It is not something we have been able to get used to having around. It has to be taken into consideration in every plan we make, and whether we want it to or not, it demands time and energy to handle. Right at the point where we think we are able to see the end and start moving on it jumps up and makes a comeback.
There’s an uncertainty to this pandemic that makes it so difficult to handle. Most cases we’ve seen among our students have been mild, and are gone in a couple of days with no side effects. But we have had a few students who are still experiencing lasting effects that aren’t pleasant, like a nagging cough, headaches, loss of taste or smell. And beyond that, the uncertainty extends to those with whom the student may come in contact outside of school. We have many students whose grandparents live in their home with them, or who have parents with health issues that make them susceptible to a more severe case.
MCA was in the middle of recovering from some past issues that had a negative effect on the school and its operation. The pandemic was a drain on resources, interfered with enrollment and recruitment of new students, and brings an additional set of problems to solve. And like everything else that touches on human nature, also brings the potential for conflict and disagreement.
So we go to Jesus to find rest for our souls.
Gentle. When I was working with a construction ministry that involved middle and high school-aged students, one of the phrases that served as a reminder during the tough times of the week was, “This isn’t about me.” Everyone else is going through this, too, and everyone else is weary. Since this is the second year of school in which we’ve had to deal with the pandemic, we planned for some changes that could be anticipated, like days students might have to miss school, extensions of time to finish assignments and making sure that there are no detrimental effects on grades or academic progress.
Humble. There are some basic principles that are part of our philosophy of education to which we remain committed. We are committed to a mission and purpose that is measured by giving glory to God. Specific to the pandemic, we are committed to making sure that our campus is a safe place for students to learn, and that we remain open for in-person instruction. We understand that our parents have differing opinions and perspectives regarding their decisions about their children. As we navigate through health department regulations and government mandates we are required to follow by law, we ask for respect for the decisions we need to make to achieve our commitments. Mutual respect should characterize our whole school community.
Let Christ Carry the Burden
From the very first weeks of the pandemic, when we knew so little about what was going on or where we’d be in a month, we have committed all of our decisions to prayer, along with all of our concerns and worries. Having students in a school where their faith is encouraged and strengthened every day, along with learning math and reading skills, does not suit our enemy. We know who he is and what he is about, and have experienced his attempt to disrupt our ministry. The circumstances of this pandemic could indeed be used as a means of creating conflict, interfering with progress, but prayer is the way to victory.
MCA has turned several corners in its recovery, and we have made a lot of progress, even through the pandemic. Three of the five commendations observed by the visiting accreditation team this past November recognized the school’s distinctively Christian atmosphere exhibited by students, staff and parents whom they interviewed. As long as our Christ-centered focus remains in place, God will bless us and we will get through this.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be a healing for your flesh and a refreshment for your body. Proverbs 3:5-8, NRSV