There is a lot of talk in the world right now concerning free college education. In the United States, politicians like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have declared from their political pulpits that college education should be free for most, if not all, of those living in America. In South Africa, the call does not seem very different. Students across the nation are protesting on college campuses and at government sites declaring the now familiar mantra “Fees Must Fall.” Putting aside the merits and/or detriments of such demands, it does highlight a common sentiment that young people from different corners of the globe share. They all are looking for what they feel is the easiest way to secure their futures.
It is easy to get caught up in an outcome. The Western world conditions us for it. The fact is that the South African educational system has lowered its standards so that more students can gain access to college. The “Fees Must Fall” movement tries to manipulate the tuition structure despite the economic reality of the country. The economy of the country remains such that few jobs are available even with a degree, and the cost of that degree continues to rise due to inflation and other economic factors. As the number of trade schools remains low and a broad-based investment in youth development is still lacking, the country seems fixed on producing a particular outcome that is unrelated to each student’s individual need.
We started Goshen International in response to a call from God to simply provide students with opportunities. In the fourteen years that I have served in South Africa, I have learned that it is a fine line between providing opportunities for students and ensuring a certain outcome for them. We too had a pretty narrow approach to what success looked like for our kids. But over time the Lord showed us that He has a unique plan for every person’s life. That seems like a pretty obvious statement, but in practice, it is difficult to fully grasp.
The truth is that He is the great prize! He is the only outcome that measures success. The Lord prepares us and equips us to do whatever He has called us to do as we draw closer to Him. We don’t have to worry about college or careers or the future if He is the focus. The familiar scripture rings true today as it has at every other time in history—“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” At Goshen, we know that our educational program is just a tool or platform to disciple, engage, and strengthen students in their walk with the Lord. We have learned that there is no “outcome” that each student must possess other than a strong relationship with their Creator. When that happens, tuition fees and college admissions are taken care of if a degree is necessary to fulfill His purpose. Obstacles are removed if we are on the path that glorifies Him. So whether the future involves college, a trade, family life, or missions, the one truth remains that if He is the center, it will be a life worth living.