Being very interested in historic lighthouses, my husband and I took a holiday, a number of years ago, to explore the lighthouses positioned along the Great Ocean Road. This road covers 130km of Victorian coastline, infamously known as ‘Shipwreck Coast’ because it sent many ships to their watery graves. In the 1800’s, the dangerous waters of the Southern Ocean were a major shipping route for supply ships and those carrying convicts or immigrants to the colonies of Victoria and NSW. Unfortunately, this rugged and inhospitable coast with its thick fogs and rough seas made it difficult to traverse. The strong winds whip up the waters into high swells that pound the high cliffs and submerged rocks.
The famous explorer, Matthew Flinders, was reported to have described it as one of the most fearful sections of coastline he had ever seen. Due to the dangerous weather conditions and together with errors in navigation that took ships too close to the coast, there were close to 700 shipwrecks. As a result, the first lighthouse was built at Cape Otway along with approximately 20 others dotted along the coastline. Their light protected the ships in the treacherous waters as they were able to navigate their journey safely.
It is clear from the evidence and the experience of schools, that many of our students are not navigating life well. Life seems like its heading for a shipwreck. There has been a decline over time in the mental health of our children and adolescents, with increases in both depression and anxiety. These can’t be separated from the unravelling of our culture in the western world.
Jesus told the story of two men – the wise man who built his house on the rock and the foolish man who built his house on the sand (Matthew 7: 24-25). When the storm came, the winds blew and the rivers rose, the quality of their foundations was revealed. In relation to our times, Walsh & Middleton commented “An autumnal chill is in the air; its similarity to the chill in other periods of cultural decline is undeniable.” It is like our house has broken windows, the roof is torn off and the foundation has cracked because our culture has forgotten God and His Word.
Many of the students entering our schools are growing up without a knowledge of God or struggling to embrace what it means to live out their faith in their culture. Professor Cooling, a pre-eminent scholar in Christian education states “unless teachers assist teenagers to wrestle through their existential questions, such as ‘why is there pain and suffering?’, they will graduate with a privatised faith or a strong likelihood 70 – 75% will drop out from Christian faith at tertiary level.” How then, do we, as teachers, assist students right from Kindergarten to Year 12 to build their lives on the Rock? How do we nurture a faith that will bear fruit in both their private and public lives and weather the storms of life?
Throughout history, two strategies have comprised the heart of faith formation – unfolding God’s story and enacting it out. Our story is a breath-taking drama that spans all of eternity. It is a compelling true story of kept promises. In Christ and His Gospel work is a message full of love, forgiveness, freedom and purpose. Therefore, we need clarity around the magnificence of what Christ has done for us and His call to participate in His redemptive work in the world. The Bible provides a vision of history and the place of every human person as a responsible actor in this drama. The consummation of the new heaven and earth are key to interpreting the present with hope because God controls the outcome.
It is important then that we prepare ourselves to share our true story in the context of the shifting sands of culture. As teachers, we need to provide learning opportunities for them to think deeply about issues of life and equip them with a strong Biblical apologetic. Raising students who live faithfully to God’s call also requires models of those who live out the sacrificial life of Jesus according to His truth. Our lives are to witness to the reality that Christ provides the deepest meaning for our lives and involves us in His purpose of recreation, to build a new and better world. Let us be storytellers of stories about men and women who embodied what it meant to love and serve the Lord and made a difference in the world. Like the ancient story of Daniel, it is an affirmation that remaining faithful to God’s plan will bear fruit and bless others. Like Daniel, our students will not bow to the idols of the age, and they will stand strong in the promise that God’s Kingdom will never be shaken.
May the words of this blessing be our prayer for our students as we hold out the sure hope that their true home is to be built on the Rock, living in the presence of a loving, gracious and forgiving God.
“May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the light surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong” 
“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7: 24)
Grace and Peace
The TEC Team
 J Richard Middleton & B J Walsh, Truth is Stranger Than it Used to Be: Biblical Faith in a Postmodern Age, (Westmont, USA: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 25.
 John Collier, The Excellence Centre Pacific Seminar, August 2012.
 Partial lyrics from Bob Dylan “Forever Young”, Planet Waves (Sony 1974).