This wasn’t anything that could strike terror in my heart more than the news of an upcoming teacher’s strike, and when this particular strike was actually illegal, it made me very upset. I didn’t feel comfortable striking in the best of times, but there was no way my conscience would allow me to stand on the picket line for an illegal strike.
Some said I should just stay at home during the strike, and I could have done that. Somehow however, this didn’t seem right to me either. It would have made it look like I was in some way condoning the strike, which I was not. I spent a lot of time thinking and praying about this; but in the end, there was only one option that I could live with: I would have to go to school every day of the strike, even if it meant crossing the picket line…
The day I made this decision, I went to see my principal. “I cannot strike,” I stated after a short greeting.
I’m not sure what I expected, but certainly not this: “I won’t strike either!”
Well at least I had the support of my principal!
Those weren’t the most pleasant days. I was targeted by the press, and I would get calls every day from one newspaper or another. It wasn’t long before everyone knew I had refused to strike, and I quickly became the “bad guy” in town. I even had a personal escort when I crossed the picket line in order to ensure that I wasn’t hurt. Interestingly, I actually don’t think I needed that escort. Despite stories I had heard about how teachers who cross the picket line during a strike are persecuted, my own co-teachers actually seemed to look at me with respect.
There were also a few students who refused to stay home during the strike. One, in particular, stands out in my memory. He would come to school almost every day. I would teach him one-on-one for a while, then he would take school work back home to do in the evenings. This student happened to be a Christian, and he and I had some interesting discussions during that time.
One day, the principal came to my classroom while the student and I were engaged in a conversation about God. When he didn’t seem upset, I decided to test the waters a little. I went to his office the next day and asked him if he would like to learn about Jesus.
The principal looked at me, and I could read a hungering on his eyes. “I would like that,” he said. Then he laughed. “And we certainly have the time!”
Every morning after that for the duration of the strike, we met together and talked about God. He and his wife, along with most of his children, all accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior shortly after the strike was over.
One day, when my student was with me, he asked if we could have a Bible club in the school. Naturally, this is not allowed in a public school, and I told him he would have to ask the principal. We were both pleasantly surprised when the principal agreed to the plan, as long as it wasn’t during official school hours!
When we stand up for what is right, even when it isn’t the popular thing to do, even when doing what is right can be potentially dangerous, it opens the doors to blessings. In this case, not only did my principal and his family come to know the Lord, but we were able to start up a Bible club as well, where other students could have the opportunity to learn about God. And when we’re doing what God is calling us to do, we can be sure that He will always be with us and we never need to be afraid.
What unpopular thing is God calling you to do? Take courage and do it, for you never know when: “It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony.” (Luke 21:13 NASB)
In His love,
(To view the entire “Lessons From the Classroom” devotional series, please click here.)