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Order your coffee today at ShopGenerousJoes.org and even subscribe to a subscription coffee plan and never forget the coffee you love or the causes you care about. Welcome to The Christian Perspective, where we look in God's Word in order to develop a biblical worldview for modern culture. I'm Chris Hughes, and our guest today is an author and a speaker, but he's also a man who has a passion for Jesus Christ, and he's the author of the Christian perspective. I'm Chris Hughes, and our guest today is an author and a speaker, but he's also a man who has a passion for Jesus Christ and a love in his heart for homeschoolers and helping people across the nation, but not just across the nation, around the world, navigate the homeschooling process.
Stephen Palacastro founded an international Christian ministry, I think about a year ago, and he'll tell us about this in a minute, and it's called the International Association for Creation. Stephen, thank you so much for being on The Christian Perspective today. Yes, thank you so much, Chris, for having me.
I appreciate it. You know, I don't even know how I got connected to you, Stephen, but we're friends on Facebook, and I see what you're doing all over the world all the time. We've never even met this first time we've talked, but I pray for you all the time. I'm excited about what God is doing in you and through you. Tell us a little bit about your ministry.
Well, thank you so much. Yeah, so at the International Association for Creation, we have two foci, and domestically we work with leaders in different cities around the United States to give creation tours of secular museums, and we've been doing that for a number of years. And then, as you mentioned, just this past year we started working internationally with national Christian homeschool leaders who are parents just like us, but they are taking a brave step and fighting for homeschool freedom in their country.
And we're in about over 100 nations all across Latin America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. Well, I really want to dig into the homeschooling in a minute, but before we get to there, I'm fascinated about this museum tour. So you said that you give tours in the United States. Y'all don't have your own museum. You send people to do tours of like the Smithsonian and other museums, correct? Yeah, we do. We find that some of the best exhibits and artifacts are housed in secular museums, and if we can train up the right people to go into these amazingly beautiful venues, and it's not just museums, but also aquariums and zoos as well, we can use that evidence to point people back to God and to Scripture, because we're all looking at the same rocks and animals. It just depends on what our world view is. We find that's very important, especially to serve Christian families in cities across America.
Well, Stephen, I don't know if you came up with that, but what a brilliant concept. Many times, and I'm not trying to be mean to some Christian museums, but I love to visit a Christian museum whenever I can, but many times they don't have the money because of government restrictions. They might not be able to have the artifacts that a government owned museum would have. So you don't always have access, even though there are some very good Christian museums, but a lot of times they don't have the money for these great exhibits. So what a brilliant concept to take advantage of these museums. So how do people find out? Is there like a regular schedule or how would somebody go about if they had a homeschool group or a church group, or even if they just want to do themselves, get a tour from a Christian perspective of these museums? Yeah, the website is real easy. You can go on and find out if we have a tour guide in your area. We serve coast to coast in the United States, also in Canada, Mexico, and England as well in London.
So a lot of different options, pretty much anywhere you live in North America. And so you just want to go to christianmuseumtours.com, that's christianmuseumtours.com, and you can find out where your nearest tour guide is at. And like you said, Chris, go enjoy learning about God's world through the lens of God's word at these amazing secular museums.
So many times, you'd ask if I had started this. Two years ago, I started as I traveled to BU conferences, giving creation tours of secular museums, you know, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Orlando, Washington DC, like the Smithsonian, as you mentioned. And I just saw literally people's lives be changed, you know, parents who come to me and say, I've never been to this museum, I was afraid to take my kids actually in Chicago last year. This is probably the most vivid memory.
And she was in tears, the mom, because she's like, I was never allowed to go here, and I never took my kids, but you've given me a fresh perspective. And now I can go in with confidence and teach my kids about God's word, even at the secular museum. And that's really what we want to do for parents and teachers around the world, especially in the United States here, because we have some of the best museums in the world right here in the United States. And to use those treasures really, to display God's wonder. And, you know, we're just getting started, and it's really exciting. So we hope you guys can join us. You know, and again, that website is ChristianMuseumTours.com Boy, I've got to find a time when I can come with you to do this sometimes, Stephen.
This is so important. Our Ministry Citizens for America Foundation is dedicated to educating and training the next generation of leaders to have a biblical worldview, which a worldview is just the lens through which you see the world. And we want to encourage Christians to see the world through the lens of the Bible in everything they do. And so kids today go to school, and if they go to a public school, they're taught that the Bible is wrong, that there is no creator, that the world just came here by some accident. So it's great to have someone like you as a scientific background to go into these museums and show how God used creation like the Bible described, so they can have a firm foundation. Both my kids are in college. They're budding scientists. And my daughter just started a master's program at one of the world renowned universities yesterday, and she was sending me copies of the garbage. And they specifically like the first point on there was attacking God and creationism is not scientific and just a myth. So I thank you for doing this because young people need to learn.
I mean, adults, too, but particularly the next generation, that God's word is always true and that we have a creator and that we are created in his image. So thank you for doing this. Amen. Yes, you're welcome. So, Stephen, is there a fee for this when people go online?
How does that work? Yeah, so every tour guide operator owns their own tour business or ministry, so they set their own fees. But we work with them to make sure that those costs are kept low. I know a lot of the cities that are served do offer the tours at no cost. So it just really depends on where you live, but you can find all that information out through going on our website and contacting your local tour guide.
And again, folks, for those of you who are listening, get out your pencil. It's Christian museum tours dot com. That's Christian museum tours dot com. And that doesn't mean they're going just to Christian museums. As Stephen said, they go to secular museums as well. Just you're getting a tour from a Christian or a biblical perspective.
Well, I'm going to find a time to do this for you. I'm going to be spending some time in D.C. Where are you based, Stephen? We're in Orlando, Florida. Do you have a good museum down there?
Well, I'd have to say no, unfortunately. We have a pretty good zoo, but a lot of things are dominated by Disney. Yeah. So but we've gone there as well and given tours of the animal kingdom, which has been phenomenal. So and SeaWorld as well. Yeah, that's a great idea.
I love SeaWorld. So that's great. Well, so we're going to shift gears now. But I'm excited because I've seen mention of this, as I said, on your Facebook page.
But I didn't know exactly what it was. So that's tremendous. Well, I want to shift gears now to homeschooling. Stephen, as you know better than than I know, with covid, homeschooling has kind of been put in the spotlight because a lot of kids were sent home last year. And and then when they were sent home, parents became enlightened as to what some of the garbage their kids are being taught in schools. And now there's, I think, and you probably can tell us better than I know, just guessing that there's been an increased interest in homeschooling.
Are you seeing that in the country and around the world? Oh, yeah, definitely in the United States and all around the world, there is a major increase in the interest that parents have to educate their children at home. And so what do you guys do? Are you providing curriculum or working with legislation? What's the focus of what your ministry is doing when it comes to homeschooling?
Yeah. So we work to train and equip parents to become national leaders, to advocate for homeschool freedom in their countries. And so that looks like, as you mentioned, with legislative priorities in various countries, as well as, you know, advocacy in the public sphere, in the marketplace. And having, you know, societies who maybe are, you know, less inclined to homeschool, have them understand the concept. And that's a good concept, a concept that has, you know, been instituted by God, where, you know, parents are discipling their children at home. I think a lot of people have been intimidated in the past over homeschool. Maybe the parents, you know, maybe you're a parent, you don't have a college education. You think, how can I teach my child?
And really, that's something today that you don't need to worry about. There are so many great programs available. What does homeschooling look like today? I'm assuming it's usually online or I know, so I'm probably getting in trouble here mentioning one.
I know a Becca's one I just saw a commercial for last night on TV that's based out of Pensacola Christian School in Pensacola, Florida. But so do people buy online programs? Does the parent have to be an expert in science or chemistry or physics?
How does it work today? Yeah, there's so many different models. There's the online model where you can plug into an existing curriculum like a Becca or a BJU. Then there's also the co-op model where you meet, you know, once or twice a week with people in your community who are also homeschooling, maybe through your church or through another, you know, community gathering place. And then there's also just, you know, the eclectic model of finding books in the library and, you know, using available resources that you have at home that could even be visiting zoos and museums.
You know, things that they can engage your children's love for learning. Stephen, you mentioned... And you guide them and direct them. This show is brought to you by Generous Joe's, the coffee company with the Christian perspective. This is the answer that Christians and conservatives have been looking for, a coffee company that gives back to causes you care about.
Order your coffee today at shopgenerousjoes.org and even subscribe to a subscription coffee plan and never forget the coffee you love or the causes you care about. Yeah, you mentioned co-op and forgive my ignorance here and probably some of our listeners may not know. So it was co-op where maybe one parent says I can teach math so the kids come together. What does a co-op look like?
What does that mean? Yeah, yeah, so co-op basically is where parents come together and they, you know, one parent might be good at math and another one might be good at literature. And so they take that day out of the week and the children go and learn math from one parent and literature from another parent.
And that will be maybe the core of, you know, what's been taught throughout the week at home, but you have that core meeting each week to kind of make sure everyone stays on the same page, both literally and figuratively. So for homeschooling kids in order, I don't know what role and so maybe you can share what role the government plays for a child to advance a grade or a test they take that's administered by the state at the end of each year or to graduate where a student can go to college. So what makes it acceptable for a state or county or government or whatever to advance the next level and how does a college or university come to recognize that this child has met certain qualifications to attend their institution?
Yeah, so there are a number of different ways. It's pretty varied depending on what state you're in. But a common way to do this is that the family who is homeschooling will hire a private record keeper and that person will be licensed or certified by the state to keep certain records and also test the students every year or few years to make sure they're kind of meeting the minimum of what the public schools require their students to meet. And then, of course, in many or most of the cases, the students that are being homeschooled, and this is shown through research and academic articles over and over again, that they by and far excel beyond those minimal standards. But that's kind of the bar that the state says, okay, whether you're a private school, homeschool, or public school, this is the minimum state standards that you have to meet. So I know that that's how it's done in Florida and it's done that way in many states.
Now, when you look outside the United States across the world, there are some countries that do it this way. Other countries have what's called a cover school program. And so you register your child in a private or Christian school and that school is the one who does the testing for your child. But you keep your child home and you work with them one on one through your own curriculum that you choose. So why do you think homeschooling is so important for our listeners?
Yeah, I think homeschooling is important because I firmly believe that in God's word, he gives parents the right to educate their children or choose how their children are educated. And it is true that many parents choose to give that authority to the state or to a private institution. But we want parents to realize that just as easily, if not more easily, they can retain that authority and because they have the right. So I was talking with someone the other day about right versus authority. And ultimately, first, you have to be given a right over something to have authority. And so God gives parents the right to be a parent over their child. And then with that right comes authority. And so we believe that for our purposes and the parents and families that we work with, exercising that authority in a way that is free, without hindrance, is really important. And so I know a lot of parents come and they say, you know, I'm scared.
I don't know what to do. There seems to be so much red tape, so many obstacles. But once you really get plugged in and you really start working with your state or national leaders, they've been through the rope.
They've been around the block a few times. They know how to navigate that and they can help you. So if you're just starting out, don't be intimidated. You know, there's so much help and support out there for you. Steven, do you have a separate website for your homeschooling ministry or is it the same website?
Yeah. So if parents want to learn about what we're doing around the world to advance homeschool freedom, you can go to GANCHL. It's G-A-N-C-H-L. Again, that's G-A-N-C-H-L. And it stands for Global Alliance of National Christian Homeschool Leaders.
So G-A-N-C-H-L.org. And there you can join our prayer team to be praying for these families in other countries. And we even recently set up a new program where you can actually write letters of encouragement to homeschool families around the world. Because a lot of these families, you know, as free as homeschooling is in the U.S. and Canada for the most part, a lot of these families are facing fines, even up to jail time, having their kids taken away because they choose to homeschool their children and exercise that God-given right. Even though, you know, they're still battling with the government to have that right protected.
Yeah. Well, and you mentioned that we can do it in the United States, but, you know, with COVID, there seems to be a heavy pushback now because public schools have now realized that parents have caught on to what's going on. That parents have learned about the curriculum.
I even have talked to people who, when the classes were in Zoom, teachers wanted to ask their students first and make sure that the parents were not in the room when certain subjects were covered. So I've been concerned that even in the United States, there's going to start being pushback, particularly in some of the liberal states against homeschooling. What are you guys doing to fight for freedom of homeschool here in the United States?
Yeah. So right now, what we do is we monitor situations in the U.S. We're not, you know, terribly active when it comes to the legislative process. But we do have friends at HSLDA and they work extremely diligently with the state homeschool organizations across the United States to make sure that the rights of parents are protected.
And we're so thankful for their work and really the groundwork that they laid in the United States back in the 70s, 80s and 90s that has paved the way for freedom in America and help implement some of those strategies and tactics overseas. Well, Stephen, I know you're doing a lot of work overseas right now. How are you all expanding homeschool in other countries? And is it being accepted there? What's happening around the world with homeschooling?
Yeah. So we started actually a year ago this month in September of 2020 with working alongside the National Christian Homeschool Leaders in Bolivia to pave a pathway for the legalization of homeschooling, which was successful. And this is Bolivia, right?
A small country in South America. And once that caught on with other leaders from around the world, they're like, how did you do this? You know, we want to do it, too. So we put a program in place we call our five step success path that we take parent leaders through so that they can also advocate for freedom and see homeschooling legalized in their nations as well. And just this year, we've successfully advanced that in over a dozen nations. So it's gaining traction. And it's making a big difference in a lot of these nations around the world. So did I read somewhere that you now have leaders in over 100 countries that are starting to connect with your five step process?
Yeah. So we're currently in over 115 nations that are in that five step process, like you mentioned. And it's incredible.
Places like Ethiopia and Mongolia, and as I mentioned, Bolivia, Latvia. Places that otherwise even historically have been closed off to the gospel, have been closed off to freedom. God is opening up amazing doors. And you're just homeschooling advanced. And you've just been doing this for a year, right?
And they have 115 years. That's amazing. Well, God's really working through your ministry, Stephen. That's tremendous.
And I know they're listening. I just want to encourage you to be praying for this ministry and praying for Stephen, because there's a lot of opposition. I would imagine a lot of countries around the world, they don't want to see homeschooling and anything Satan can do to stop the spread of the gospel.
He's going to do it. So be praying for them. So you have something called the International Homeschool Day.
Can you tell us about that? Yeah, International Homeschool Day started about three years ago, and that was a day just to bring together families around the world to celebrate faith and family as we all homeschool and look towards the days ahead. And so that is every last Saturday of February each year. And so we're starting to get ready for that again in 2022. And of course, this past year was the biggest yet, because we have a lot of these nations that are now participating from the Alliance who are also celebrating with us an International Homeschool Day.
So it's really a great year to build on that momentum that we had over the past few months and use this day coming up as a rallying cry to say, here we are, you know, we're going to fight for our freedom and we're not backing down. Wow. Well, Stephen, we're going to have to wrap it up, but I thank you so much for being here with us today. And so, folks, if you are interested in the Christian Museum Tours, go to christianmuseumtours.com. That's christianmuseumtours.com. I'm going to be doing this and I can't wait to get a good Christian guide to take me through some of these world famous museums. And I'm glad to hear that you're in London, Stephen.
I love some of the best museums in the world are London. So I want to check that out, too. And then if you want to learn more about what Stephen and his team are doing to advance homeschooling around the world, write this down. It's g-a-n-c-h-l dot org. That's g-a-n-c-h-l dot org. And there you can sign up to be on the prayer team. They need prayer warriors.
And you can also write letters of encouragement to people around the world that are wanting to get into homeschooling. Stephen, thank you so much for being here with us today. Thank you so much for having me, Chris. God bless you and God bless everyone of your listeners.
Well, brother, I'm going to be praying for you. I'm so excited about your ministry and we're going to have to have you on down the line and hear how God has opened up even more countries around the world. Folks, thanks for joining me today. I'm Chris Hughes and this is The Christian Perspective. Please subscribe and like our podcast and please share it with your friends on social media. Now let's go change the culture for Jesus.
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