'This Could Change Our Nation': Wave of Evangelism Provides Bible Education for Public School Kids
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An innovative education program is offering children who attend public school the opportunity to learn more about the Bible and helps them to build their faith – all during school hours.
LifeWise Academy offers religious instruction during the school day and so far, 14,000 students are seeing their lives changed by the curriculum. The organization points out it's all completely constitutional because the US Supreme Court has allowed for off-campus Bible education, even during school hours.
A young student named Christian did not grow up in church and didn't even know what a Bible was. However, his mother, Bethany Sanidad, wanted to give her son an opportunity to learn about Jesus.
"I had never heard of a Bible-based program and I just felt like it cannot hurt," Sanidad shared in a video.
"If we didn't have LifeWise offered, we wouldn't be regularly going to church and making God the center of our house. It's kind of crazy to think about that this one program has completely changed our family," Sanidad told The Daily Signal.
The program is growing in communities across the country under the direction of Joel Penton, founder, and CEO.
Penton says the organization's approach gives them a unique advantage to have a lasting impact on children's lives.
"We believe it's the single greatest missed opportunity to reach the next generation with the word of God," he told the Daily Signal.
"LifeWise is what's known as a released time religious instruction program (RTRI). Little do most people realize that in 1952, the Supreme Court ruled that public school students can be released from school during school hours, that's the key phrase, 'during the school day,' they can be released to receive religious classes as long as the program is off school property, privately funded, and with parental permission."
He continued, "So this has been around for 70 years, but it has just been under the radar and we discovered that this was possible just a few years ago, really, in 2018. And we said, 'Boy, what if we put a program together that could be plug-and-play so that any community anywhere could launch a program to reach their local students?' And it was off to the races."
LifeWise isn't the only group providing this off-site, Bible-based schooling. Educators, community leaders, and parents are jumping at the opportunity to bring these types of programs to their communities.
As CBN News recently reported, Bible2School is a 40-year-old nonprofit organization that teaches the Bible to public school kids during their school day.
Kori Pennypacker, the CEO of Bible2School, told CBN News, "We equip parents, moms, dads, grandparents to teach the Bible to public school kids during their school day – that means typically over lunch and recess."
Cynthia Lampkins helped start a LifeWise Academy in her community because she felt it was important.
"I know that students need God in public schools and they are not getting that and because of that they are struggling," shared Lampkins. "Any way to be able to help our students develop a relationship with God I'm going to sacrifice whatever I have to to help with that."
Julie Coffman, director of LifeWise Upper Arlington, shared in a video that LifeWise is a new wave of evangelism.
"I can't wait to see what Heaven's going to look like when we see the impact of a whole group coming together with that same mission," Coffman said.
The LifeWise program is currently serving 132 schools across four states and there is an opportunity for growth.
Penton shared, "Me having all this experience working with public schools, it was very natural when we learned about the opportunity of release time to say, 'Wow, this strategy is incredible. This could change our nation. We need to jump in and give this thing a shot.'"
The students are not the only ones benefiting from it. So are their families.
"We've always been people who prayed before school or before bed, but now God is really at the center," Sanidad said. "Your kid is learning these great character qualities and learning about God, building that foundation, and then, in our case, leading his whole family to church. Now, we love going."
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