While I was in Austin, Texas, Mary Jane had me over for tea and then she blew my mind. Her husband, Greg, was away, I learned, teaching educators in a two-week course in Guatemala for an organization called the International School Project (ISP), a ministry under Campus Crusade for Christ. I nursed my tea as she recounted the story.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, it was not only the end of a form of government; it was the end of all meaning. It isn't long before you ask the question: What do we teach the kiddies in school? As sociologist Mark Juergensmeyer noted in his book The Next Cold War, every nation needs "a conceptual framework that legitimates authority" and offers "meaning beneath the day-to-day world that give coherence to things unseen … and gives the social and political order its reason for being."
In November of 1992, three Russian Ministry of Education representatives came hat in hand to a Christian educators conference in Anaheim, Calif., and asked, on behalf of their government, if they could have some help devising a curriculum for their public schools. I'll bet you can guess what the educators replied (after picking themselves up off the floor, I should think).
From May 1991 to December 1996, the ISP trained about 42,000 public school teachers in 119 cities in Russia and other former Soviet Union countries. (They are also in Mongolia, Kyrgystan, and Guatemala now, which is why I couldn't meet Mary Jane's husband for tea.)
So there you have it: what you and I are not allowed by law do in our own public schools, the Russians are begging for the chance for us to implement in their public schools. The kingdom of God is on the march. The ISP story proves that all you have to do to be swept up in it is to show up.