Rockbridge Academy Blog
We at Rockbridge intend to continue to use our economics course as one means to foment hope, right relationship with God, and to create a spark in our students that will drive them into conversations, courses, and careers that support not only Godly market relationships, but that also champion truth, beauty, and goodness in any environment.
The Rockbridge Academy economics course policies document states our overarching goal for learning for the year: “The market economy is a gift from God for orderly procedure in a fallen world. Your understanding of this truth and ability to contrast Biblical truth with economic fallacies will be essential to successful navigation of the course.” This statement is distilled from what we at Rockbridge Academy state as our purpose in teaching economics: “The twelfth grade study of economics affords the student the opportunity to sharpen rhetorical skills by integrating a broad range of course formation from mathematics, Great Ideas, and history. The course cadence flows with the first trimester and a half devoted to in-depth study of economic theory and policy as well as training in discerning economic fallacy, both from historical context and relative to current events. The remainder of the course is devoted to history of economic thought, tracing the effects of cultural presuppositions on all aspects of economic behavior, starting with evidencing biblical economics and ending with the modern era of econometrics. The students’ rhetorical skills are honed through instilling the economic way of thinking by reading primary sources, textbooks, and periodicals.
At Rockbridge Academy, we have learned that economics, taught rightly and well in a Godly framework, can be life changing for our students. We make a concerted effort to undo the damage wrought by enculturating the subject of economics as the dismal science. This term was coined by Scottish essayist, historian, and anti-abolitionist Thomas Carlyle in the nineteenth century. Carlyle was influenced by TR Malthus' gloomy prediction that population would always grow faster than food, dooming mankind to unending poverty and hardship.
Clearly, neither Malthus nor Carlyle seems to have been rightly inspired by the Dominion Mandate as stated in Genesis 1:28: “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’” Blessed with these commands, placed here in the earthly kingdom, how could we fail to call economics anything but the hopeful science? Here in Genesis 1:28 we see applied economics–how we should live.
Fast forward a couple of tumultuous millenia. We find ourselves faced with real upheaval. Upheaval aptly summarized in a July 2022 essay for World, penned by author Brad Littlejohn. The essay states, “No sooner had the long shadow of COVID-19 begun to recede into the rearview mirror than a new set of clouds gathered on our national horizon. Not since the Great Recession of 2008–2009 have Americans had so much cause to worry about the economy. Inflation has soared to levels not seen in more than four decades and shows no signs of slowing, with the conflict in Ukraine acting as an accelerant to a price spiral that was already threatening to get out of control…” That’s some dismal stuff there. Maybe the idea of economics as a dismal science is not far off the mark.
The author doesn’t stop here with this dismal tirade. He goes on to say, “Most depressingly of all, there now seems no way for policymakers to rein in inflation without making it harder for struggling Americans to borrow and for investors to protect their current savings, much less make a profit. For the time being, at least, most of us can expect to see our savings keep shrinking and our cost of living keep rising—and the worst part is that no one knows how long this season will last.” Yet the author sees something behind these storm clouds, and he invites us to use a hopeful lens to take another look: “…these clouds do have a silver lining. In the midst of an increasingly hostile culture, it can seem harder and harder to make our faith seem plausible and relevant, but the current economic gloom actually presents a powerful opportunity for Christian witness—if we can have the courage to capitalize on it.”
The author chose a key economic term–capitalize–to call Christians to action to be arbiters of hope in a world clouded with gloom. To capitalize means ‘to take the chance to gain advantage from.’ The essay implies that we have a chance to profit from these seemingly disastrous times. Not the type of profit that can be deposited in the bank, but the profit resulting from evangelizing the truth that sets us free to live in right relationship with our creator God. We at Rockbridge intend to continue to use our economics course as one means to foment hope, right relationship with God, and to create a spark in our students that will drive them into conversations, courses, and careers that support not only Godly market relationships, but that also champion truth, beauty, and goodness in any environment.
Littlejohn Brad, Money and Christian witness https://wng.org/opinions/money-and-christian-witness-1657278541
Amy Boswell has been working at Rockbridge Academy for nearly two decades, and she currently teaches Economics. She has four children who all attended Rockbridge Academy.
Faithfulness over time works wonders in the heart of man. This past summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to experience this firsthand. I traveled to Budapest, Hungary for a month with the Navigators, a worldwide Christian organization.
I learned so much from this trip, but I learned something special—that Hungarians take friendship very seriously. Once you make friends with a Hungarian, you will be friends for life. Because of this cultural norm for friendship, ministry in Hungary is relational. This basically means forming relationships and building trust are a necessary part of sharing the gospel in Hungary.
One sweet example of spiritual conversations stemming from relational ministry happened when my team and I took a trip into the mountains of Slovenia with twenty-three Hungarian college aged students. In most of their minds, this was just a really cool summer camp opportunity. For my team, it was a gateway to relationships, trust, and spiritual conversations. One day, my group was sitting in a beautiful grassy field at the foot of a mountain. As we waited to begin hiking, we split into pairs to discuss the question, “What is trust?” I was paired with Martzi, a student in school studying psychology. He typed me as an extrovert five minutes after he met me. (Who would’ve thought Sarah Williams would be typed as an extrovert? I was proud of that!) I had talked to him a good bit before, so when it came to this question, we were able to jump right in. Martzi is not a believer, but he shared with me that he liked this community because they were different. He felt like he could trust us immediately. “You are all such good people,” he said. “My other friend groups aren’t like this.” As the conversation went on, I explained to him why I am able to trust at all. “Because I put my trust in Jesus,” I said, “I no longer need to lean on my own understanding. He fills my heart, and he is more than I could ever imagine or desire. When Jesus directs my path and I trust Him, He multiplies my ability to extend trust to others and be vulnerable.” Martzi nodded, and we continued talking about his experience in the Christian community. It was such a special conversation stemming from shared trust in one another.
Another example of a memorable conversation happened about a week before we left to return home. In Slovenia, I became friends with a girl named Anna (pronounced like Anna in Disney’s Frozen) who is a fairly new believer. We met on the first day of the camp and after a few days she came up to me and said, “I know we’ve been joking around a lot, but I would really love to be real friends and get to know each other better!” This was so encouraging to my heart. Trust had been built. From that day on, we spent lots of time together. We talked about many things, including the importance of having Christian friendship and community. A few days before I left Hungary, I asked her what she thought of our team coming into her community and then leaving after only a month. “It just seems strange to be here, make friends, and leave,” I said. She looked at me and said something I won’t ever forget. She said, “Just because someone is in your life for a short period of time does not mean that you can’t make a difference to them.” She continued, saying, “It’s like if the people in your life were beads on a necklace. Just like each bead makes some sort of change to your necklace, every person you meet makes some sort of change to you. Even if you only spend one week with someone, you have the ability to make an impact. The bead that represents you on their necklace will never be unthreaded. Therefore, every interaction you have with another person, for however long, is special and important.”
Just because someone is in your life for a short period of time does not mean that you can’t make a difference to them.
I thought about what she said the whole way home. Every interaction I have is an opportunity: an opportunity to impact lives for Jesus. We know the good news of the gospel. In Christ, the joy of Jesus should pour out of us to everyone that we come in contact with. He can and will use us to be the bead in someone's life that makes a difference for the kingdom when we surrender everything to Him.
The best part about this is that you don’t have to travel halfway across the world to do relational ministry! Though I highly recommend that Rockbridge students consider short term missions work, it is first vital that we as Christians and as the Rockbridge community start by focusing on the way we interact with those we see every day. Faithfully showing Jesus to those around us is such a beautiful way to glorify God and enjoy Him. I urge you to think about the way you can share Jesus with those around you. Not just once, but faithfully. Not to build yourself up, but to humbly serve the Lord and build His kingdom.
If any student is interested in learning more about short term missions or what the Navigators ministry looks like on a college campus, my email is email@example.com. Please feel free to reach out with any questions! I would love to have a conversation with you.
Sarah Williams, '20, is in her third year at Clemson University. She is studying psychology and business management and is planning on pursuing Biblical counseling. She is thankful for the Lord's providence in allowing her to have such beautiful communities both in Maryland and South Carolina.
Here at Rockbridge Academy, we highly value service towards others as every human is made in the image of God and loved and valued by Him. As a result, Rockbridge students are continually immersed in service activities, and the summer is no exception. Our students served kids in VBS (vacation Bible school), ran Christian summer camps, helped at medical clinics in Guatemala, taught English in Mexico, and everything in between. From local churches to out-of-state camps to overseas missions, our students have been busy serving God’s people. Here are what a few students have to say about their experience.
Sarah Daly, Class of 2021, served as a camp counselor at Summer’s Best Two Weeks in Pennsylvania. She said, “Working at camp has taught me a lot about how God works despite and even through my weakness. I’ve been confronted with my inability to change campers' hearts and I’ve been forced to trust that He is working while the campers are here and after they leave. It’s hard to spend two weeks loving and ministering to campers and then send them back to sometimes very spiritually dry homes, but I’ve been forced to trust God to bear fruit in their lives. He is faithful and good.”
Working out of state has allowed Sarah to interact with people she doesn’t normally. Sarah said, “I’ve been really encouraged to work with a staff of around 100 college students who come from many different backgrounds but all are united by their love for the Lord. Hearing everyone’s unique testimony had reminded me that God is continually preparing a people for Himself.”
Bailey Lamar, Class of 2024, traveled to a school in Mexico to assist with VBS and English training for high school students. He said, “My missions work showed me how important prayer is for a community. We were teaching English at a school in Mexico and got a chance to hear how the school was founded. A missionary went all around Mexico looking for land to start a Christian school. He found the land he knew would be perfect, and began asking the owner to sell it to him. The owner told him no. For a year he asked, and the owner refused each time. Finally he prayed, telling God that he would ask one last time and praying that this time the owner would say yes. He did. Hearing this story amazed me, because I saw God can use one man's prayers to bring many to Christ.
Being in a different country, Bailey was immersed in a different culture where he met people different from himself. He said, “Working with other teenagers in Mexico really showed me how Christians can be hospitable; they were the nicest people I have ever met. They would always ask us questions and be interested in what we said, and they would always joyfully include us even if it meant they had to speak their second language or carry us in their soccer games. Their hospitality is something I hope all Christians can imitate.”
This past summer after her 11th grade year, Eden Logan, had the opportunity to go to Uganda and lead a children's Bible study camp, help with home visits, and generally spread God's gospel and love. She said, “I have never been more heartbroken and joyful than when in Uganda. I witnessed a ministry that takes despairing, diseased kids and gives them hope and life–both physically and through Christ. The joy I saw there, despite such poverty, inspired me more than ever to work overseas as a medical missionary, and I pray that God will lead me back there!”
Eden also was presented with the opportunity to meet and learn from people very different from her. She said, “I saw a farmer, so poor his house was literally crumbling, worshiping God from the depths of his soul. I realized, even though I could barely understand his words, the Holy Spirit had connected us in our love for the Lord. God’s people are more united than I had ever realized, even across boundaries of language, oceans, and culture.”
God’s people are everywhere, which means you can serve wherever you are. These students have blessed people around the world, some just walking out the front door while others stepping onto an airplane. No matter how different a culture or a people may seem, we all have at least one thing in common: we are all made in the image of God. And, between Christians, there is an unmistakable bond that transcends language and culture. We all serve the same living God and one day we will stand before Him as one people proclaiming His name with one voice. I am thankful for all that our community does to serve and I hope the examples of these students can remind us that all kinds of service is needed and every action done to further God’s kingdom is infinitely valuable.