June of 2007, I spent a week in Alabama with Jenna and 25+ high school students from student body. The town we served – Boligee, Alabama – is radically different than my hometown of Wheaton, Illinois. In the last ten years, the educated and the “wealthy” have abandoned it. A dying town in a dying county, many are left without hope or any vision for the future. In Boligee the median income for a family is $16,146 where it is $104,475 in Wheaton. Boligee doesn’t provide opportunity like the suburbs here do and it certainly doesn’t educate like our system does.
This experience reminded me of how much I’ve been given. I’ve been blessed with more opportunity than I can imagine. My high school education rivaled many college programs and I was able to attend an excellent college to top it off. I’ve come away from it all with little debt and a host of options for my future.
One night, it hit me: God doesn’t care how educated you are. He doesn’t require you to be educated to follow him. You can be the most educated person in your country and it doesn’t make one bit of difference when it comes to godliness.
During my stay in Alabama, I took a long hard look at the fruits of the spirit – asking myself what impact education has on them. Does it take a college education to love? Or a high school degree to have joy? Do you need a Ph. D. in peace to attain it? Does patience require a high SAT score or kindness demand an above average GPA? Do goodness and faithfulness require literacy? What impact do grades have on gentleness and self-control? The truth behind these questions humbles me. I hope that everyone has a chance to be humbled by them.