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6/26/97 Christians urged to uplift public schools as volunteers

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–Christian volunteers are needed in public schools, Gussie Tonne told participants at the Jericho missions conference at Ridgecrest (N.C.) Baptist Conference Center June 21-27. Tonne is a retired teacher from Illinois and represents Southern Baptists’ National Fellowship of Baptist Educators.
“There are two problems that can be answered by putting Southern Baptist church members in our public schools,” Tonne said. “Our churches are looking for people they can reach. Our schools are looking for people to reach our children.
“There are so many things volunteers can do, too,” Tonne added. “They can read to the class, they can tutor, they can assist the teacher. In fact, they can do anything but take complete charge of the class.”
Tonne listed several other ways volunteers can help, including music lessons, arts and crafts, playground assistance, coaching, food services, library assistance, programs and parties and sharing personal experiences of travel, world events or history.
“The key to a successful program of volunteers is leadership,” Tonne said. “An enthusiastic leader who believes in children and their worth and can inspire others will make or break a program.”
A receptive school is also necessary, Tonne said. “You’ll find that most schools are open to this kind of assistance. Very rarely will a school say no.”
Targeting school-age children will lend itself to extended ministries outside the school environment, Tonne said. “Backyard Bible clubs, Big A clubs and Vacation Bible School are just the beginning,” she said. “Parents will come to see what their children are doing. Adult literacy programs, English as a second language classes and other adult education activities will also result.
“Go home and involve your church in reaching out to schools,” Tonne challenged. “This is one mission outreach we need to tap into.”

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  • Lynne Jones