Break Every Yoke

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 24 2011


Overheard during Independent Practice
B. (to D.): “You’re ruining our lives and eating all our steak!”

I may have to resort to blogging less regularly. It’s not a matter of not having enough free time (though heaven knows that’s true). Simply put, forcing myself to write every weekend isn’t always conducive to substantive, meaningful posts that I can reflect on or share with others in good conscience, and that was the whole point of this blog in the first place. We’ll see.

Today, my church had the privilege of hosting Invisible Children, an non-profit organization dedicated to ending the use of child soldiers in central Africa. They screened a documentary called Tony, which chronicles the life of a Ugandan named Tony from the first time the filmmakers met him as a rambunctious but fearful young boy in 2003, to today, as he simultaneously receives higher education and works with IC to spread awareness about the atrocities in central Africa. I have watched many powerful documentaries in my life, including Waiting For Superman (say what you will about charter schools, I was still moved), but none can compare to Tony in the emotional effect that it had on me. I literally could not hold back tears as I watched Tony weep for the loss of his mother to HIV, and then the death of his mentor at Invisible Children due to the 2010 Kampala attacks. Perhaps the most riveting moment in the entire documentary was a scene in which the young Tony, lying down in his dingy “night commuter” bedroom, remarked to the film crew, “Do you think if you can go there [to America], you cannot forget about us? You have a tape. After one month you can watch and remember about us right away.”

While the documentary convicted me to pay attention to and care about the immediate issues that it brought up (viz. child soldiers and LRA war crimes), it also convicted me in another way. Namely, it rekindled a fire for social justice within me that I admit had grown dim in the past few weeks. The incessant daily grind of teaching had slowly but surely chipped away at my motivation for giving up comfortable and profitable career prospects to teach in the inner city, and it took brutal and heart-wrenching footage from halfway around the world to put my life back in perspective.

I realize that there is so much work to be done, and so much to pray for. I pray that corps members reading this (including my future self) would feel the weight of Proverbs 24:11—”Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.” While acknowledging that this mindset can be taken to an extreme, it is nevertheless true that in many of the communities that TFA serves, teachers are the only ones who can rescue students from being taken away to death, whether instantly by gang violence or slowly but steadily by a life in poverty. I pray that all believers doing kingdom-building work would remember that the Spirit of the Lord is upon them, that the Lord has anointed them with supernatural power and authority (Isa 61:1). I pray that those who claim to love their neighbors would love “in action and in truth” (1 Jn 3:18)—indeed, that they would roll up their sleeves and actually do the work of feeding the hungry, welcoming strangers, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick.

Most importantly though, I pray that all creation would shout in one voice:

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

Here’s a song that perhaps captures what I’m feeling best:


In other news, with the sudden onset of fall temperatures across New England, I have learned the hard way that my apartment has very poor insulation. Last night, I literally had trouble sleeping because I was shivering so hard. But today I thought about my Nepalese refugee students who don’t even have winter jackets, and suddenly my life seemed positively luxurious. I need to gather up some of my old outerwear to donate to students before the weather gets too cold. Anyone have any ideas for how to do this without being patronizing or awkward?

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    New city, same vision

    Rhode Island
    High School

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