In the 75th anniversary of Wycliffe’s ministry in Bible translation, I found myself absorbed in reading their history over the holidays. Obstacles, such as cross-cultural and linguistic challenges, kidnapping, and martyrdom wove throughout Wycliffe’s history.
I was particularly struck by the story of Chet Bitterman. When Chet was considering missions work, he told his wife, “I’ve only got seventy-five years on this earth at best. I want to use them to give someone the Bible.” So in obedience to their calling, this young couple joined Wycliffe (p. 103). Chet and his wife, Brenda, prepared for missions work and were to work with the Carijona people. As they prepared to move to this village in Colombia, they were at the Summer Institute of Linguistics in Colombia.
Chet Bitterman’s investment in his calling
It was January 19, 1981. Several armed gunman appeared, planning to kidnap Al Wheeler, the director. When they couldn’t find Al, they kidnapped Chet instead. Interestingly, Chet had said to his wife two days before the kidnapping, “It’s okay for someone to die for the sake of getting the Word of God to the minority people of Colombia” (pp. 105-106). He had also stated, “If something is worth living for, isn’t it worth dying for too?” (p. 105). That’s exactly what the Lord called Chet to do … to die for the sake of the gospel at the hands of his captors.
The following year, missionary applications to Wycliffe doubled as Chet’s willingness to be obedient to the calling of missions inspired others. Chet Bitterman was willing to set aside his entire career for the sake of the gospel, even to the point of sacrificing his life.
Chet’s story woke me up to press on in my role and calling. Perhaps Chet’s story will wake you up too … to your call to home education and the sacrifices you must make to invest in your children’s education. Or maybe, you are tired of playing the dual roles of parent and home educator. Perhaps you are fatigued from getting up with your little one three times in the night and then teaching the rest of your K-12 children all day, plus fixing breakfast, lunch, and dinner on top of that, and then falling into bed exhausted and doing it all over again. Or, perhaps the blur of a few lackluster homeschool days has fogged over the larger mission to home educate your children so they might be missionaries in their vocational calling to a broken world.
“What if … ?”
You might be asking “What if … ?” What if I placed my children in the local school? What if I used that certificate or degree and launched my own career? What if I earned money instead of homeschooling? Would my life be better? Would my children’s lives be better?
Let me share that there is no better-equipped young adult to face the world than the one who has been loved well and home educated well.
“Why?” you may ask. Because that child does not spend his educational youth waiting in lines, waiting for an answer to a simple question, being socialized by children who may not be living for the Lord, or being educated into a non-Christian worldview. Rather, that home educated child has a 1:1 tutor that loves him and would give her life for his well-being. That child does not have to spend hours commuting on a bus, but enjoys the luxury of home educating in the next room. That child avoids the wait time and experiences moment-by-moment love, full acceptance, mentorship, and the gospel message infused throughout his education.
When your home educated child is launched, he will have been socialized to know Christ intimately and to keep Him at the Head, taught well and well read, and ready in an instant to share the reason for his faith.
“Yes, it is worth it.”
So, when I think of Chet Bitterman’s sacrifice, I say, “Yes, it is worth it.” It is worth the sacrifice to do what you are called to do and to complete the job well. Similarly, when you think of the temporary sacrifice of a set of years to home educate your children, say “Yes, it is worth it because my child will grow up knowing Jesus and become a healing salve to a hurting world as he enters the public square to proclaim the name of Jesus.”
Home educator, is it worth it? Yes!!! Then give Jesus the “what ifs” and simply trust Him and be obedient to home education if this is your call. It was worth martyrdom for Chet Bitterman to obey Jesus’ call and thousands upon thousands have heard the gospel message because of his story as his life and sacrifice inspired others to join Wycliffe Bible Translators. Similarly, the sacrifice of years of homeschooling is worth it if it launches your child into the career and ministry path God has for him.
- Lord, do I second guess what you are calling me to do? Do you want me to stay the course of homeschooling?
- Lord, do I dwell on “what ifs?” and so dilute my obedience to your calling?
- Abba, grant me a vision of who my child will become, not just professionally, but spiritually. Encourage me through this vision to press forward in the name of Jesus.
- Lord, show me who I am to become in the process of home education. Show me, Lord, the qualities of Your Spirit that you will infuse in me, the people I will mentor, the way that I will use my giftings during this season for Your people.
Dear Jesus, you have called me to home education. I choose to obey. Just like the missionary Chet Bitterman, I choose to do your bidding and follow your plan for my life and for the life of my family. When I do this, I will be at peace. When I question you, I experience turmoil. Lord Jesus, open my heart to understand my places of questioning. Let me bring these questions to you and sit with them before you in prayer. Let me trust you for provision and not play the “What if?” game. Let me be faithful to your call and make the necessary sacrifices. Let me “draw near to the throne of grace that [I] may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
I love you, Lord, and want nothing other than “to know You and to make You known.”ª If the best way to do that in this season of my life is through the inter-generational investment of homeschooling, then I choose to say “YES!” In the precious name of Jesus my Lord and Savior, Amen.
June Hetzel, Ph.D., Dean of Education, Biola University
Wycliffe Bible Translators (2017). Till All Have Heard: A Celebration of 75 Years as Wycliffe Bible Translators. FL: Wycliffe Bible Translators, Inc.
ª Colombia Bible College’s motto was “to know him and to make him known.” (p. 106).