This month we have been reflecting on the importance of ‘sowing seeds’ into people’s lives and how that can manifest itself in the work of evangelism. With this in mind we caught up with Karen Baron, the director of Christian Education Schools (CEIS) in Canberra.
CEIS was first founded in January 2008 with the mission of creating an organised curriculum and training program for volunteers and paid workers to bring the truths of Christianity into government schools in Canberra ACT.
The largest hurdle Karen and CEIS have had to face isn’t what you’d expect.
“One of the biggest difficulties we had starting out was letting people know that this was a possibility… most people thought it wasn’t allowed.”
It is allowed, in fact, it’s the law.
“There are thirty-nine words in The ACT Government Education ACT 2004 – Section 29 that enable us to do what we do,” Karen says, “but for it to happen parents need to ask.”
If parents of children at a government school ask the principal for their children to receive religious education in a particular religion, the principal must ensure that reasonable time is allowed for their children’s religious education in that religion.
Having been a teacher herself for many years before coming on board with CEIS, Karen has found this professional experience invaluable when it comes to talking to principals and teachers about bring CEIS into schools. “It gave me a lot of credibility,” Karen says of her experience in education, both in a class room and working on education policy in government.
Almost ten years down the track, CEIS is in thirty-six ACT primary schools. With there being sixty-seven government schools in Canberra, those are pretty good numbers.
“We do four sessions a year at every school,” Karen says, “so it’s very much a seed sowing exercise. We’re not after an altar call… God has all the time in the world to work with each and every student.”
Despite only doing four sessions a year, Karen has watched relationship build with students during this time. She hears shouts of “Hey, religious lady!” across the playground when she visits, and has many encouraging moments that remind her daily of how little interactions from the past matter more than she could ever realise, reminding us that you never know what impact you’re going to have with even the smallest actions.
CEIS is founded on the motto of SEEK QUESTION EXPLORE, something that Karen sees as vital not only to children’s process of understanding faith, but to their education in general. Children are encouraged not to simply learn Bible stories, but to question them, their meaning and their purpose. This is integral to CEIS’ curriculum and sessions.
“At the end of the day, we want them to own their response and choice,” Karen says, “we just share the love of God with them.”
So much of us sharing the gospel is simply that: sharing. It is up to God when it has an impact. We sow the seed, and He makes it grow. And what better soil to sow seeds in than the hearts of children?