Blessed Are the Schoolmakers

They say the young Pakistani sixteen year old, Malala Yousafzai, has an inside track to the Nobel Peace Prize this year. We’ll know in a few days. If she wins this much heralded prize, she will become the youngest recipient in its illustrious history. And why not? A year ago today Malala, an outspoken public advocate of the value and importance of education for young women (a notion radically opposed by the Taliban forces operating inside Pakistan), was riding home from school in the back of a small pick-up that doubled as a “school bus” for children in her town. A masked man stopped the truck, while an accomplice singled Malala out and shot her in the head. She should have and would have died were it not for the quick intervention of Pakistani doctors who performed emergency surgery on Malala. Her condition still grave, the surgeons learned that a British physician, Fiona Reynolds, happened to be in the country that day. As it turns out, Dr. Reynolds is an intensive care specialist with the Birmingham Children’s Hospital—and she recommended that Malala be flown overseas for specialized treatment. The rest is history. Today, thoroughly healed and adamantly undeterred by Taliban extremism, Malala continues—now with an international platform—to champion the right of girls and young women to full education and schooling, in Pakistan, in every village on earth. From the beginning of time our Creator Himself has championed the value and right of education for all His Earth children. “‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children’” (Deuteronomy 4:10). And His vision is no small one: “God’s purpose for the children growing up beside our hearths is wider, deeper, higher, than our restricted vision has comprehended. From the humblest lot those whom He has seen faithful have in time past been called to witness for Him in the world’s highest places. And many a [child] of today, growing up as did Daniel in his Judean home, studying God’s word and His works, and learning the lessons of faithful service, will yet stand in legislative assemblies, in halls of justice, or in royal courts, as a witness for the King of kings. . . . Millions upon millions have never so much as heard of God or of His love revealed in Christ. It is their right to receive this knowledge. They have an equal claim with us in the Saviour’s mercy. And it rests with us who have received the knowledge, with our children to whom we may impart it, to answer their cry. To every household and every school, to every parent, teacher, and child upon whom has shone the light of the gospel, comes at this crisis the question put to Esther the queen at that momentous crisis in Israel’s history, ‘Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’ Esther 4:14” (Education 262, 263). The vision of the divine Teacher to teach the children to reach the world—what could be more radical than that? Malala is on the right path. Shouldn’t those upon whom the light of God has shined so brightly be on that same path, too?