Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 19, 1953

Christian Education In A Heathen Nation

Logan J. Fox, Ibaraki, Japan

Ibaraki Christian College is the first accredited college the members of the church of Christ have ever established outside the United States. For over half a century schools like David Lipscomb, Harding and Abilene Christian College have proved conclusively the importance to the church of Christian education. And now in Japan we have a Christian college, a real sure 'nough school that looks no different than any of our other Christian schools in America — but there is one enormous difference. A school in Tennessee or Texas is planted in the midst of a Christian society; a school in Japan must exist in an unquestionably heathen society. This difference is so important that over fifty years ago when brethren David Lipscomb, M. C. Kurfees and others tried to persuade Brother J. M. McCaleb to start a Christian school in Japan he could not be convinced that it was possible, saying: "There is not the constituency to support such a school in Japan." Brother McCaleb was undoubtedly right in what he said, though I am not convinced that a school could not have been built and operated for the good of the Christian effort in Japan. It could not have been done however without personnel and funds from Christians in America. Even today there does not exist in Japan a Christian constituency sufficient to support a Christian school. If such a school is to exist it can only do so with the support of American Christians.

What are some of the problems that a Christian school must face in a pagan society?

(1) Finding teachers. It is impossible at the present time to find enough trained Christian teachers to establish a Christian school in Japan. There is no alternative but to hire some non-Christians. Ask any Christian school president in America how hard it is to find trained Christians in the States, then multiply the problem a hundred fold and you will find an approximation to our problem. Yet, we have managed to build a staff with over two-thirds of our full time personnel members of the Lord's church.

(2) Finding students. In America we have said that the school is an adjunct to the Christian home, and surely it is right. In Japan, however, we are asking heathen parents to send their children to a Christian school. The average Japanese parent will do this for one of three reasons. The Christian schools are less expensive, the Christian schools have a higher academic rating, or graduates of Christian schools can get better jobs. It so happens that in most instances none of the above conditions exist. Christian schools can charge only a nominal fee that pays perhaps a fourth of operating expenses, to say nothing of buying buildings and equipment, and still they will not be as cheap as the public schools. Again, it is extremely difficult for a Christian school to fulfill its fundamental purposes and still maintain an academic standing that can compete with the better public schools. And lastly, with only a few exceptions the graduates of the public schools can get better jobs than can the graduates of Christian schools. It is this last factor which is such a controlling force in the whole society. Traditionally all good positions in Japan have been filled by the graduates of the seven Imperial Universities. A half dozen private universities have managed through their alumna to also achieve a very enviable job getting power. Graduates from other schools must fill the lesser ranks. For this reason it is practically an unquestioned axiom that all truly bright students must attend these first class universities and the high schools which have been traditionally successful in getting their graduates into these universities. We find that this thing has even pervaded the minds of our church members, or perhaps I should say we have been unable to get this notion out of the minds of people who have been Christians only a few years. And so the Christian schools face a constant battle for good students.

(3) Getting financial support. Education is the most expensive constructive activity in the world. There is no bargain counter education fit for human consumption. Christian education is far more expensive than public education, but it is cheap at any price and blessed are the Christian parents with the wisdom to encourage their children to attend a Christian school. But how do you go about getting financial support from Buddhists, Shintoists and Atheists? It is surprising how many students we are able to get from these homes and how much they are willing to pay to have their children educated in a Christian school. Yet if a school like this is to exist it must be supported by Christians. In Japan, lumping together Catholics, Protestants and everybody who wears the name Christian in any form, Christians make up only half of one percent of the population. Members of the church of Christ, of course, are only a fraction of this. Christian education cannot be maintained in Japan for some time to come except through the generous support of American Christians.

Is Ibaraki Christian College worth the price?

We must have $2,000 a month over and above what the students pay in tuition and fees in order to operate Ibaraki Christian College. What will this $2,000 do? It will pay the salaries of sixty full-time and part-time teachers. Ten of these either preach full or part time and are active in all phases of the work of the church. These men are able to give their time to the church because they make their living by working at Ibaraki Christian College. With this $2,000 we are providing over 6,000 Bibles lessons a month to the 300 students enrolled in our high school and college. With this money we are maintaining a 35-acre campus with a half dozen classroom buildings, four dormitories, and homes for five missionary families. The missionaries give their time to the school free and the school provides countless free services to the missionaries. Ibaraki Christian College is continually called upon to serve the missionaries and the congregations of the churches in this area. Often legal help is provided in tax problems, in land purchase problems, in making contracts and so forth. Mimeograph facilities are maintained and often used. The three telephones on the campus have saved many an unnecessary trip. The school provides free a meeting place for the Omika church. And besides all this we are still able out of the $2,000 to maintain a standard academic program of high school and college level for our three hundred students. Twenty to thirty percent of our students who graduate are Christians. Today there are thirty-five congregations of the church within a radius of thirty-five miles of Ibaraki Christian College, where six years ago there were less than half a dozen. Where can $2,000 accomplish more than this?