What can a Bible teacher accomplish in a public school where he is not allowed to evangelize his students? Bryan Osborne’s answer may surprise you. Bryan teaches Bible history at Hixson High School in Hamilton County, Tennessee.
Many parents recognize that the Bible is important to understanding history and culture, even though they may not believe it is God’s Word. So Hamilton County public schools offer Bible history as an elective. Teachers’ salaries are paid by the school system but reimbursed by Bible in the Schools, an organization that raises the money through donations. American courts have ruled the program legal, as long as the teachers do not evangelize but teach only what the Bible says. So Bryan’s course doesn’t include Sunday school lessons or topical sermons—it’s strictly an in-depth chronological study of God’s Word.
“I don’t have to help Scripture. I just live it. You don’t defend a lion. You just unleash it.”
And Bryan finds that restriction liberating. “I don’t have to help the Scripture. I just live it,” he says. “You don’t defend a lion. You just unleash it.”
Because they know he won’t preach at them, students of all different beliefs are willing to take his course and feel safe discussing controversial issues. Bryan just tells them what the Bible says; in exchange, they bombard him with deeper questions. When students begin to understand the Bible’s viewpoint, Bryan can see the light turn on. For him, that’s instant gratification.
Bryan knows his students won’t ever begin to care about what he cares about unless they first know he cares about them. Teaching each class for an hour and twenty minutes, five days a week, gives him the time to build relationships with students. Some of them also participate in extracurricular clubs, such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, where Bryan can evangelize. In twelve years of teaching up to 240 students each year, Bryan has seen God change so many that “it all blurs together.” Some begin taking the Bible seriously for the first time, and many receive Christ.
Bryan is grateful he doesn’t have to change students’ hearts. He lets God’s Word do the work.
Then the Word devours them—for good.