Lebron James Foundation: Free tuition-free uniforms, free transportation within 2 miles, free breakfast, lunch, & snacks. Guaranteed college tuition for every student who graduates. Food pantry for families. GED’s and job placement services for parents, free bicycle and helmet.
HARVARD UNIVERSITY: “And as we were thinking and consulting how to effect this great work, it pleased God to stir up the heart of one Mr. Harvard (a godly gentleman and a lover of learning, there living among us) to give the one-half of his estate (it being in all about 1700 £) toward the erecting of a college, and all his library. After him, another gave 300 £; others after them cast in more, and the public hand of the state added the rest.”
I write this to add my voice to the debate about private universities built by donations from church members, more so, as comparisons grow with the free ‘I Promise’ school of Lebron James. However, I wish to address a deeper issue which concerns seeing ‘free’ as the only charitable or good cause.
The story of these two men (Harvard and Lebron) is as old as time and as new as now. It is the story of the good white guy vs. the good black guy; the story of the developed world vs. the underdeveloped; the wealthy society vs. the poor society; capitalist vs. socialist mind-set; right vs. left, Caucasian vs. people of color.
Over time, the accumulated evidence has become overwhelming: “Only economically sustainable models are sustainable.” Charity does not always mean free, John Harvard gave up half his wealth for the building of a University that charged heavily and was still appreciated by Americans. In the same light, it is time to appreciate the free giving of church members towards the creation of financially sustainable Universities that do not depend on government funding (Many of whom are gradually changing the tides of education). Indeed, my children may never attend these schools, but they will be employed by the jobs created from the resulting inventions; treated with the drugs from the researches and ultimately live in the robust economy that the graduates from this institution contribute to. Yes, we have given from our little to build several church universities, and I am glad that Nigerians are not weary of giving. For the giving is for posterity or as the founders of Harvard University put it “dreading to leave [an] illiterate [country] when our present ministers shall lie in the dust”.
John Harvard and company were apparently concerned about the literacy level in the society, just like Lebron James and indeed a lot of us. However, the approaches could not have been more different. While the Church leadership in Nigeria seem to be blessed by the wisdom of John Harvard, some members and a lot of Nigerians (sadly even people of color around the world) seem to be lacking and even upset by this wisdom. #Selah.
NB: This does not in any way seek to undermine the good work of Mr. Lebron James or disparage the goodness of free things such as scholarships (e.g. Harvard scholarships, Orphanages). However, it is no secret that regardless of the intent, third world countries and people of color have achieved less than desired with its approach and policies and I believe it starts with not knowing the difference between ‘free’ and ‘affordable’.
—Dr. Ohize Stephen.
For Streamglobe Devotional to the Church.