Preaching the Gospel in Public Schools in 2017

May 22, 2017

Chalk art ministry has deep roots at CIU

By Paul Young (Class of 1970)

Editor’s Note: Paul Young is the founder of Drawing Others to Christ based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Imagine preaching the gospel plainly to a thousand students in a public school. The students listening attentively, with many of them making a public profession of repentance and faith in Jesus.

It's happening now, day after day. Sometimes many of the students and teachers are Muslim. Hundreds of the schools have me back.

Where is this happening? In several African countries.

But the roots of this phenomena go back to CIU when I was a student in the '60s and '70s. My faith in the Word of God was strengthened there. I learned how to have victory in my own life. Obedience to the Great Commission was emphasized, and I started taking prayer more seriously. I saw love and unity at CIU among people of different denominations. My Christian service assignment was preaching in seven or eight public schools each month, sometimes using chalk art.

But the roots in CIU go back even further. In about 1945, when my dad was a CIU student, he was assigned a Christian service of preaching in African-American schools. After finishing at CIU, he continued this work of bringing pictured Bible messages in hundreds of schools in South Carolina and Georgia.

So when he enrolled his six children in CIU, he also sent us into some of the schools where he had been preaching for years.

So now, 50 years later in Africa, I walk into a school where I've never been before and explain to administrators that I go to lots of schools giving a talk that helps the students behave better. This includes drawing a big chalk art picture that enhances my message to the students. That part about the students behaving better gets the principals' attention. Crime is rampant. Some of these schools are said to be the most dangerous schools in the world. In some areas where I preach there are gang wars.

As a result, many of the school administrators are happy for me to come in and preach a candid message of repentance. I tell the students that we've lied, but all liars go to the Lake of Fire. We need to make a change and tell the truth. We've hurt others. We have broken the great commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. We need to be kind. We've been too selfish to share. We need to make a change to be happy to share. We've disobeyed, especially when no one is watching. When we repent, we start obeying. We've committed a lot of secret sins. Now when we repent, even in the privacy of our thoughts, we want to please God. "Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord and He will have mercy..."

I emphasize sin and our guilt before God, because "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." I have seen that when people are confronted with their sin, and their own consciences testify to their guilt, many of them are happy to turn to Jesus for mercy.

 I figure that if I please the Lord in how I present the gospel, He can open the doors to these schools and keep them open if He wants to. "Behold, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it."

Years ago, Robertson McQuilkin prodded me to see if I really believed Jesus' amazing promise, "Verily, verily I say unto you, he that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto the Father" (John 14:12).  So if we believe Jesus, it should not be surprising if God does mighty things through us to bring many into His kingdom.

God has been merciful to us and blessed us so that we can show His salvation to the nations (Ps. 67:1, 2) by preaching in hundreds and hundreds of schools. Also we produce tens of thousands of follow-up books, booklets and chalk talk DVDs to leave with the schools that continue to help them after we are gone.

I even recently preached to public school students near Greer, South Carolina during release time school hours with no restrictions. 

May God make you a blessing to many others as you serve Him.