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Dare to raise a Daniel!

posted Apr 30, 2010, 6:35 AM by Dan Dunbar
i returned Wednesday evening from the International Reading Association conference in Chicago, Illinois. I flew to Chicago last Saturday afternoon and arrived on a very cloudy day - the tops of the skyscrapers were hidden in gray, fuzzy clouds, the kind you see in creepy movies on dark and stormy nights. The next morning I began an eight hour session on Fostering Engagement Through New and Traditional Literacies. The next three days were filled with workshop sessions about reading and books and books and reading. I enjoyed learning new things and meeting some interesting people, but it was not so much fun being away from everyone and having connection only by phone conversation once a day. Still, I did manage to meet some believers at the convention.

One gentlemen was an older fellow that I had seen around dressed in yellow from head to toe. I thought he was some eccentric teacher, but ti turned out that he was the author, Mike Thaler, who has been writing books for children these part fifty years. He got up in a session to read a book he had written and told us that he was 73 years old and had become a Christian at the age of 60. He declared that it was the best decision he had made in his entire life, to get to know the Creator of all creativity in a personal way. Some audience members walked out when he said this and another guy told him afterward that he would not shake his hand because of what he had said. That made me angry and also sad. The believers in the audience applauded his bold testimony, and we all enjoyed his book The Preacher from the Back Pew. (I bought all of his Back Pew series of books online for our school when I came home.) The message in his book was humorous and God-honoring. Hallelujah!

The other believer I met was Steven Layne, the author of a book I had just finished called Igniting a Passion for Reading. In the forward to his book, he gave thanks to God, so I went up to him and told him that I liked his book and that I was the principal of a Christian school. His face lit up even more than it was, and told me that his wife is the principal of a Christian school and that he teachers at a Christian university. I told him I had hoped I wasn't wrong to think he was a believer, and he said, "Well, if you can't tell from the forward and from what I wrote in that book..." I bought another copy of his book and had him autograph it. I also saw him the next day and bought a copy of a young adult novel he had written and had him sign it. He told me, "You will get more out of this than the average reader," implying that Christian themes appear in the book. It is the novel I will be reading this weekend.

One of the things Steven Layne advocates in his book is summer reading. I have been thinking about having a summer reading program for a while now and this is the year that we will be doing it at GGCA. I will be asking the students to read three books of their choosing from a list of approved books over the summer. There will be a homework assignment at the end of the summer for students to complete based on their summer reading. It will be fun!

Back to the main theme... I was so happy to encounter Christian authors who wrote books that were published by non-Christian publishing houses. It reminded me of Joseph and Esther and Daniel, all who were believers who God raised up to positions of prominence in Egypt, Persia, and Babylon. There must be believers in many places of influence, I thought we ought to be praying for them to be raised up and used by God to make a difference in our communities, our nation, and our world. We know there are plenty of folks who do not fear God in positions of power and influence in our world - let's pray for God to raise up men and women to be salt and light in the halls of political power and in the places culture is cranked out - all the various media - and in the towers of academia where minds are being filled with philosophies. We need Spirit-filled leaders in all walks of life, so pray that God raises up some our students to be men and women of godly influence!

And help us ignite a passion for reading in our young people. Readers know more and go further... Dare to raise a Daniel, a Joseph, an Esther!