How to Pray for Jubilee Schools in January 2021

January is an occasion for new beginnings and new hopes. As you’ll see below, many of our schools are looking forward…but all of them continue to deal with the lingering impacts of the pandemic and other problems lingering from last year. Please ask the Lord to help our schools in the days to come.

Pray for our Schools

  • Four of our schools are going through leadership transitions (or had a transition in September). As this is not a typical school year, these new or interim school leaders face challenges the likes of which their predecessors never would have dreamed. Pray that the Lord would grant wisdom to these leaders in particular (and all of our heads of school in general), that they would know how to honor the Lord and bless those whom they serve during these unusual times.
  • The news of recent political unrest has been difficult for adults to process. Children lack the objectivity and capacity to wrestle with these issues well. Many of our students deal with fear, depression, and anxiety as a result of hard news that seems to throw their world into chaos. Please pray that the Lord would protect the hearts and minds of our students and their families, and that they would be drawn to him instead of living in dread of their fears. Please pray also that our schools’ teachers and administrators would know how to talk about these issues with their students in a way that shows that the Lord is their Strength and their Shield.
  • All of our schools continue to cope with the effects of the pandemic. Most take a hybrid approach, with the majority of students in person for part of the day and at home the rest of the day, and with some students exclusively virtual. As you might imagine, this approach can be disruptive not only to the process of education, but to the attention spans of students, many of whom benefit from the structure of being in a supervised classroom. Please pray that the Lord would cause the work of our schools’ teachers to be effective during this difficult season, and that their students would learn all they need.
  • Some students in our schools struggle with hyperactivity and impulse control. Please pray that the Lord would grant these students the strength and self-control to master their bodies and thoughts and minds, and that they would not distract themselves or anyone around them.
  • As has been stated previously, this is an unusual year with unusual circumstances for teachers. Many teachers work extra hours helping students and preparing alternate lesson plans for virtual and hybrid students. Please pray the Lord would grant them endurance and patience with joy during this season.
  • Many students who receive Jubilee scholarships live at or below the federal poverty level. These students are most at risk for economic harm from the current crises. Many experience food insecurity and housing insecurity (12 million U.S. renters are currently at least $6,000 behind on their rent as a result of the pandemic). Please pray that the Lord would provide for these students and their families’ needs, and that these students would still be able to learn effectively even with these stressors weighing on them.


Thank you for praying! Visit our website at jubileefund.org to learn more about the mission and ministry of Children’s Jubilee Fund!

Tim Geiger (M.Div.) is Executive Director of Children's Jubilee Fund. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Tim has lived in or around the city most of his life. His undergraduate studies done at the Community College of Philadelphia, Tim went on to earn a Master of Divinity Degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. He is ordained as a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. Prior to serving at Children's Jubilee Fund, Tim worked for the Internal Revenue Service, The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and Harvest USA, where he also served as Executive Director and then President from 2012-2019. Tim lives with his wife and daughter just outside of Philadelphia.

Children's Jubilee Fund is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1997 to provide tuition grants to Christian schools in the Philadelphia metro area that serve underprivileged students. These grants are then awarded by the schools as scholarships to students who meet income and residency guidelines. Each year, Jubilee provides hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants that, in turn, help hundreds of students in Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery, and Camden Counties achieve their God-given academic and personal potential. Children's Jubilee Fund is an entirely donor-supported organization.

Corona Crisis for Children

Last week, I performed a site visit to one of our Jubilee Network schools in Philadelphia. As I walked from classroom to classroom, I saw what one might expect nine months into a pandemic: socially-distanced students wearing masks. Desks were all six feet apart (have you ever tried that with a class of seven-year-olds? Not easy!). All the “specials” (classes typically held outside the primary classroom—like music, art, science—even lunch) were being brought in to the primary classroom to minimize students’ time in the corridors. Student movement into and out of the building were carefully choreographed, so that everyone remained socially-distanced. Seeing the planning and work these modifications took made me appreciate how simple things were, and how much we took for granted, just nine months ago.

Much has changed in our schools during the long months of the pandemic. For sure, our schools have become more tech-savvy and more able to accommodate the demands of pandemic education. But all the additional work comes at a cost—a cost borne not only by schools, but by teachers, students, and parents.

Virtually everyone with whom I’ve spoken feels the strain. And some are being crippled by it. Three of the five schools I’ve connected with over the last two weeks have reduced their synchronous learning time each week (the time teachers actively engage with students in real time) due to teacher burnout. Turns out that managing two classrooms (on site and virtual) simultaneously takes a lot more energy than managing one!

Students feel the pressure too. Not only are they impacted by the changes in the classroom and at home because of the pandemic, but they are struggling with anxiety, depression, hopelessness, loneliness, and anger at higher incidences than a year ago. Recent data suggests that the majority of students are impacted by these conditions, though not all to the same degree. That said, other recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also shows a 24 percent spike over last year in emergency visits for mental health issues among 5-to-11-year-olds and a 31 percent rise among 12-to-17-year-olds. So, a significant number of students are impacted significantly by these changes.

Parents and guardians, in some ways, bear the biggest burdens. Not only do they experience their children’s suffering, but many of them also need to help students navigate school work because direct time with teachers is cut. Parents of children in need of school-provided support because of learning or emotional differences may see those services either less effective because of the virtual environment in which they are administered, or because their children are struggling more profoundly than nine months ago.  

Plus, many parents and guardians are struggling with the financial fallout of the pandemic. Philadelphia-area unemployment is stubbornly higher than the national average. Heads of households, particularly those of color and those working in service and hospitality industries, are disproportionately affected. Food insecurity now affects one in five Philadelphia-area residents. There are real concerns about a pending wave of evictions after January 1, when federal protections expire and millions of renters currently behind in rent payments will be at risk for losing their homes. Again, people of color will be disproportionately affected. All this weighs on the minds and hearts of parents and guardians in our schools. Their children see what’s going on, and suffer secondhand stress. In turn, this impacts peers, teachers, and schools.

Everyone is in crisis right now. What can we do?

Be honest. Acknowledge this is hard. As a society, we’re collectively experiencing something that hasn’t happened since our great-grandparents’ era. This is a hard time. The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that there is:

“a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
       a time to mourn, and a time to dance…”
                                                           (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

My own opinion is that for most of us, 2020 definitely falls into the weeping and mourning category. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to acknowledge that present reality. It’s where many of us are.

And that isn’t necessarily a bad place to be. We don’t often seek God unless we feel we need to. Today, God is the only One who can truly give us what we need. Perhaps he wants you to reach out and seek him now.

Pray. God promised his people in the past: “…[C]all upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you” (Jeremiah 29:12). He told them to do that while they also were in the midst of a national crisis, uncertain about their future. Praying can be difficult, particularly when you don’t seem to know what to say. All God wants us to do is to tell him what we’re feeling and what we’re afraid of. And he wants us to know that he hears us, and is with us.

Give your students a place to speak. As adults, we’re anxious. But as we pointed out earlier, kids are even more anxious than we are…but lack the resources to talk about and understand how they’re feeling. Help them do that as much as possible. Ask your student how he or she is hearing and experiencing the circumstances around them. Ask what they’re afraid of. Don’t be surprised if they can’t talk about it easily—most kids can’t. But be present with them, acknowledge that what you’re both going through really is hard, reassure them that you’ll always be with them and that God loves them, and pray with them.

Realize the hard “now” is not forever. This is a hard season. But the pandemic will end. Things will probably begin improving in a few months. Perhaps some time in 2021 life will be relatively normal again. Sometimes just acknowledging that a hard thing isn’t a forever thing is helpful.

Get help coping for yourself or your student, if you need it. There is no shame asking for help. These are bigger issues than any of us can work through on our own. If your student could use some help with anxiety, depression, stress, or other issues, the best place to begin finding help is with your pediatrician or school. One additional resource might be Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Pediatric Psychology Department.

There are several good free print and video resources available to you as well. Here is a link to some from the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF). And here are some resources put together by EPIC Church in Philadelphia.

For yourself, finding a trusted friend to talk with can sometimes be enough. But if you feel as though you’d benefit from some more professional resources, some options are:

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This is a hard time. And it is a defining time for us as a people. But you aren’t alone. And we aren’t alone. We have a God who loves us and, somehow, will bring us through.

Tim Geiger (M.Div.) is Executive Director of Children's Jubilee Fund. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Tim has lived in or around the city most of his life. His undergraduate studies done at the Community College of Philadelphia, Tim went on to earn a Master of Divinity Degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. He is ordained as a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. Prior to serving at Children's Jubilee Fund, Tim worked for the Internal Revenue Service, The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and Harvest USA, where he also served as Executive Director and then President from 2012-2019. Tim lives with his wife and daughter just outside of Philadelphia.

Children's Jubilee Fund is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1997 to provide tuition grants to Christian schools in the Philadelphia metro area that serve underprivileged students. These grants are then awarded by the schools as scholarships to students who meet income and residency guidelines. Each year, Jubilee provides hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants that, in turn, help hundreds of students in Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery, and Camden Counties achieve their God-given academic and personal potential. Children's Jubilee Fund is an entirely donor-supported organization.

Cultivate Contentment in Christ

For my family, the days leading up to Thanksgiving have always been full of hard work and anticipation of the holiday. We’d roast chestnuts for the turkey stuffing, bake rolls from scratch, and make my grandmother’s to-die-for cranberry relish. And of course, on Thanksgiving Day, we’d share in fellowship and fun with family and friends. Perhaps you have similar traditions and expectations of Thanksgiving, and have kept those traditions for many years.

But this isn’t just another Thanksgiving. This is Thanksgiving 2020. And in 2020, it seems that not much happens according to our plans. Our Thanksgiving dinner this week will be much smaller, much quieter, and probably much less fun than in years past. For that matter, Christmas and New Year’s celebrations will be very different in 2020 as compared with previous years.

You’re probably in the same boat as we are. When I asked a member of my church last week what he and his family were doing for the holiday, he replied: “We’re hunkering down and trying to stay safe as we head into the long season of our COVID winter.” That’s pretty bleak, I thought to myself. Bleak, but probably realistic.

So what do you do when the fun and fellowship of the holidays are upended by a pandemic? That question begs the bigger questions of: Where can I go when I can’t find happiness through my circumstances? Where does my true contentment come from?

The Apostle Paul deals with those very question in his letter to the Philippians. Likely written during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, much of the letter pertains to finding hope in suffering through being connected to Jesus (1:18b-30) and to other Christians (2:1-18). Paul finds so much hope through his relationship with Jesus and his people that he uses the word “rejoice” nine times throughout Philippians. That’s more instances of the work “rejoice” than in any of his other letters.

Don’t overlook this: the joy that Paul experiences in Philippians isn’t the kind of enjoyment that say, we would get from spending a Thanksgiving with friends and family. No, this joy has nothing to do with Paul’s earthly circumstances at all. After all, look at what he’s gone through: he’s under house arrest in Rome, he has enemies in the Church who are trying to slander him (1:17) and lead the Christians back to observing the ceremonial law (3:2). He anticipates his own death (1:20), he almost lost his good friend Epaphroditus to a near-fatal illness (2:27), and he’s trying to resolve a nasty public dispute between two prominent women in the Philippian church (4:2). Those are some pretty hard circumstances. The joy Paul experiences comes from God himself.

Paul tells us the reason for his joy in 4:5: The Lord is at hand. God is actively present with Paul in the midst of all of Paul’s hard circumstances. But if God is present in the midst of all these hard things, why didn’t he prevent all the hard things from happening? Why didn’t God keep Paul of our prison? Why didn’t God silence the people who were making trouble in the Philippian church? Why didn’t God keep Epaphroditus from getting sick?

You and I could ask those very same questions, applied to our own circumstances in 2020: Why did God let all these things happen? Why COVID? Why political and racial strife? Why economic hardship? Why Lord, why?

Those aren’t easy questions to answer. In fact, there are no specific answers to be found—for now, anyway. Perhaps from a future perspective, as we see the Lord moving some of the pieces of our lives into clearer focus, we might understand some small bit of what the Lord was up to in 2020. But for the present, the only thing we can do is accept by faith in Jesus that God really is up to something bigger, wiser, and more wonderful than we are able to discern.

Paul says something about this in 1:13-14, when he encourages the Philippians with the report that “what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers [and sisters], having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”

In other words, Paul, looking backward from his present perspective in prison, says to the Philippian Christians that he knows for certain that God has woven everything Paul has been through for the last couple of years to advance the gospel. How does he know? Look at the evidence he presents: the whole Roman imperial guard has heard and seen the gospel at work (and we know that some of them become Christians themselves). Other Christians in Rome have become more confident in the Lord, and in their proclamation of the gospel. None of that would have happened without Paul’s suffering and imprisonment. God was using the objectively “bad” things in Paul’s life to bring good into the world.

Will we be able to say the same kinds of things in 2021 and after? Will we be able to look back at 2020  from the future and proclaim that what the Lord brought us through in 2020 resulted in good later on?

What do you think those good outcomes might look like? They might be similar to what Paul observed in his own circumstances. People looked in real time at how he endured his suffering. They were probably forced to ask themselves questions like: What keeps Paul from crumbling under all this weight? Where does his strength and joy come from? How can he be content when he has so many reasons to complain?

Paul probably told the people around him that his hope wasn’t in his circumstances changing—rather, it was in the fact that the Lord is at hand. Paul knew that he was never alone. So he didn’t fall into anxiety, he didn’t grumble, he didn’t wither under the strain. It was hard, but Paul found the presence of the Lord and a knowledge of the Lord’s love enough to keep his heart and mind at peace (4:6-7).

And Paul encouraged his first-century audience (and us, today) to seek the same hope and joy as he did—to recall to mind the good things the Lord has done, to remember his promises, and to take those things that do lead you to anxiety to God (instead of dwelling on them yourself). Paul promises that if we do so, “the God of peace will be with you” (4:8-9). We find peace, we find contentment, only as we first rest in the Lord. 2020 has been a rough year. And you may be going through some rough and disappointing circumstances. But take heart: the Lord is at hand.

Tim Geiger (M.Div.) is Executive Director of Children's Jubilee Fund. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Tim has lived in or around the city most of his life. His undergraduate studies done at the Community College of Philadelphia, Tim went on to earn a Master of Divinity Degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. He is ordained as a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. Prior to serving at Children's Jubilee Fund, Tim worked for the Internal Revenue Service, The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and Harvest USA, where he also served as Executive Director and then President from 2012-2019. Tim lives with his wife and daughter just outside of Philadelphia.

Children's Jubilee Fund is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1997 to provide tuition grants to Christian schools in the Philadelphia metro area that serve underprivileged students. These grants are then awarded by the schools as scholarships to students who meet income and residency guidelines. Each year, Jubilee provides hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants that, in turn, help hundreds of students in Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery, and Camden Counties achieve their God-given academic and personal potential. Children's Jubilee Fund is an entirely donor-supported organization.

How to Pray for Our Students and Schools in August

As we begin August and anticipate the start of the fall school term, many of our students, their families, and our school leaders and teachers are anxious.

This fall term will be unlike any seen in our lifetimes. COVID-19 hijacked the school calendar, and most schools will at least start instruction either exclusively or partially as they ended school in June—online. Extracurricular activities will be non-existent. Many of our schools are uncertain how they will fare financially. Many of our parents are either unemployed or have had their hours or pay reduced. And, each of our students is faced with uncertainty, challenges, and temptation to fear the future.

God tells us in Scripture that he is “our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). He encourages us to come to him with the things that trouble us, and he promises to listen, and to respond.

Please join us here at Jubilee in praying for out students and schools this month, by praying as follows—and however the Lord leads.  

 Pray for our students’…

  • Physical safety, that they would not be injured in violence in their neighborhoods, and that they would not contract or transmit COVID-19
  • Emotional health, as many see their neighborhoods scarred by violence, looting, closed businesses, and graffiti
  • Self-image, as many black and brown students live in the self-awareness of racial inequality
  • Provision, as many families are still unemployed or underemployed, and may be facing eviction or food insecurity
  • Recreation, as city pools and playgrounds remain closed
  • Spiritual health, that they will remember they are loved by Jesus, even when their circumstances are difficult
  • Learning, that the summer slide that so frequently impacts students would not be made worse this year by the shortened school year
  • Relationships to our schools, that all of our students would re-enroll for the fall even if parents are unable to pay any tuition
  • Protection during the summer from abusive behaviors around them. Incidents of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of minors all increase during times of stress and anxiety.

Pray for our schools…

  • That the Lord would provide for their financial needs this year, and that they wouldn’t have to furlough any teachers or staff
  • That the Lord would make it clear to our schools’ leaders exactly how and when to resume classes
  • That the Lord would grant teachers with wisdom, patience, creativity, and joy as they begin the fall term using online platforms to interact their students
  • That school leaders would receive godly wisdom and intuition to know how to budget and otherwise plan for the rest of this year
  • That our schools’ leaders and teachers would remain firmly rooted and grounded in the Lord, and resist the temptation to fear or become discouraged

Thank you!

Tim Geiger (M.Div.) is Executive Director of Children's Jubilee Fund. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Tim has lived in or around the city most of his life. His undergraduate studies done at the Community College of Philadelphia, Tim went on to earn a Master of Divinity Degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. He is ordained as a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. Prior to serving at Children's Jubilee Fund, Tim worked for the Internal Revenue Service, The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and Harvest USA, where he also served as Executive Director and then President from 2012-2019. Tim lives with his wife and daughter just outside of Philadelphia.

Children's Jubilee Fund is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1997 to provide tuition grants to Christian schools in the Philadelphia metro area that serve underprivileged students. These grants are then awarded by the schools as scholarships to students who meet income and residency guidelines. Each year, Jubilee provides hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants that, in turn, help hundreds of students in Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery, and Camden Counties achieve their God-given academic and personal potential. Children's Jubilee Fund is an entirely donor-supported organization.