Throughout the month of April, Jubilee publicized a campaign raising funds to pass along to Jubilee schools hit hard by the sudden COVID-19 financial crisis.
Why are these schools in need? Most of our schools work with very thin financial margins. In other words, they tend to live month-to-month, and don’t have much of a financial cushion to fall back on when an economic downturn hits.
The COVID-19 health crisis and subsequent shutdown of the nation’s economy have had unprecedented impacts on working families in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor through April 11, 2020, Pennsylvania has lost over 1.3 million jobs during the first month of the crisis, making it the state with the fifth highest effective unemployment rate in the nation, at 21.9%. New Jersey lost nearly 700,000 jobs during the same period, making it number eleven in the nation, with an effective unemployment rate of 16.7%.
As I delivered the laptops donated by Jubilee to students who needed them to participate in distance education, I was struck by the fact that some parents who were there to pick up the laptops also took home boxes of food provided by the schools. Many of our students belong to families whose hourly and service-sector jobs were the first to be eliminated in the financial crisis. And, they’ll likely be the last to be re-employed when a recovery begins. As a matter of fact, one of our heads of school informed me just last Friday that an astounding 91% of her school’s families were either completely unemployed or had work hours cut.
What this means for many of our schools is that families who paid even partial tuition are generally unable to make tuition payments any longer. Schools who depended upon April, May, and June tuition payments aren’t receiving them. Plus, many schools hold their annual fundraisers in the spring. Those have now been cancelled, and the critical cash they would have brought in to the schools to pay current expenses is lost.
Faced with the prospect of many schools cutting staff and programs, Jubilee began its emergency campaign on March 30. As of April 30, a total of $80,681 came in. Jubilee will add $60,000 of its own reserves to this amount, so that we will be able to distribute $140,681 to our hardest-hit schools. We hope that this emergency infusion of cash will allow many of our schools to retain current staff and programs, as well as to retain students whose parents are temporarily unable to make tuition payments.
To many of you who responded to our campaign, our schools and our students thank you for your generosity!
[Jesus speaking] “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
words of Jesus from John’s Gospel come at the very end of an extended teaching
segment that began back in Chapter 13. The context is that Jesus is about to be
betrayed and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. As a matter of fact, these
are the final words of instruction that Jesus gives to his disciples before he
prays for them, and is arrested. And the final words of hope that Jesus gave to
his disciples apply to us, today.
look at the four main ideas in this concluding statement from Jesus, and see
what hope they offer to us today. Imaging Jesus is speaking these same words to
you, right now.
“I have said these things to you…” In the preceding chapters,
Jesus speaks to his disciples about the suffering they’re about to experience:
suffering that touches the physical, emotional, and financial aspects of their
lives. The religious authorities will call them heretics. Their very lives will
intertwined with many prophecies of suffering, Jesus clearly makes promises of
his presence with his followers as they go through those hard times. Here are
some of them:
John 14:3. Jesus says that he goes to
prepare a place for his people, and that he will come and take them to himself,
so they will be together forever.
John 14:16. Jesus promises to ask the
Father to send his people the Holy Spirit, to abide with them forever.
John 15:4. Jesus invites his people
to abide in him, and he promises to abide in them. To abide with Jesus means
not only to live with him, but to experience the benefits of his love and
John 16:22. Jesus acknowledges that
the disciples will experience sorrow now, be he promises that he will be with
them again, and that they will have joy that perseveres no matter what
circumstances they face.
John 16:27. Jesus tells his followers
that God the Father already loves them, and is ready and able to provide what they
need in the face of suffering.
“…in me you may have peace.” What does peace in Jesus while enduring suffering
look like? Trusting in God’s purposes and provision, mostly…even if the end
of our suffering doesn’t seem to be in sight.
are two examples of what this peace looks like in the Psalms.
Psalm 123:1-2. Here, the image of people
at peace are of two servants: a man and a woman, each looking to the hand of
their master and mistress for what they need. The “hand” in Scripture is frequently
an instrument of strength, of provision, of protection. Here, the servants look
patiently and expectantly to the hands of the people on whom they depend to
provide everything they need. In doing so, they trust their masters to provide
for them, because the servants are loved.
Psalm 131:1-3. In verse 2, we encounter
the image of a weaned child with its mother. An unweaned child will fuss
and cry until it is fed. But a weaned child on its mother’s lap knows, even if
it is hungry, that its desired food is coming. All it needs do is wait
of these examples gives us a different picture of what it looks like to
experience peace in Jesus. He alone is the strong Master who will protect and
provide for us. With the love and tenderness of a nursing mother, he will give
us precisely what we need. And because he is Jesus, we can trust him to do
“In the world you will have tribulation…” Another word for tribulation is trouble. And you and I experience it daily. Perhaps your particular
trouble today focus around finances, employment, anxiety over coronavirus, your
children, or loneliness and isolation. Perhaps it’s something entirely
different. No matter what, I find it actually encouraging that Jesus says, flat
out, that trouble is something that everyone will experience. Not only does
Jesus know in a general sense that you and I will experience trouble, but he knows
in detail the particular trouble you
and I will face.
not only does Jesus know everything about our trouble, but he is perfectly and
sovereignly in control over that trouble. Even in the midst of our hard
circumstances, Jesus keeps them from being as bad as they could be. That isn’t
to say that they might not become severe and bring us almost to our breaking
point—sometimes, that does happen. But we accept by faith what the Apostle Paul
tells us in Romans 8:28-30: that the Lord works
everything together (even the very hard things) so that some good results for
us. And that good is usually that we would see his love, mercy, provision, and
power at work—and that we would trust him more.
“…take heart; I have overcome the world.” The same world that
presents troubles to us is a world that has been overcome by Jesus in his
resurrection. God tells us in Revelation 21:5: “Behold, I am making all things
new.” That renewal of the world isn’t only a future event. It began when Jesus
rose from the dead on Easter. He conquered not only death, but all of the
rotten fruit that death brings: suffering, disease, hopelessness, misery,
begin to see that victory in small ways as we cling to Jesus. Even in hard
times, we often see the seeds of good and blessing at work. And even if we
can’t see those seeds yet, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
calls us to share in his victory over death, and to be his instruments of
making all things new in the here and now. Even if you find yourself now in the
midst of challenging times, it is a comfort to realize that you are not alone.
Jesus himself, the One who has conquered sin and death, and viruses and the
suffering they bring, is with you. And he invites you to rest from the
struggles of life in the embrace of his powerful and faithful love.