By Ashley Vaughan
A phone was ringing. The shrill sound wasn’t out of the ordinary or unexpected, the phones had been ringing off their hooks for days now. Yet the 17-year-old intern at the next desk was in a quandary. She, and half of the staff, had been told to stop answering the phones, that there were too many other critical, time-sensitive tasks to be done. But her coworker had stepped out of the room for a minute, and the phone just kept ringing and ringing.
She felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit, and decided to pick up the phone. “Hello?”…
The year was 1994. Just eight days prior, a California congressman had submitted a provision in the school funding bill that created significant restrictions on teacher’s licenses, and if passed, would make homeschooling virtually impossible to be done legally in all 50 states. An attempt to strike the provision in committee had failed on a party line vote, and with a Democrat controlled House, Senate, and Presidency, the likelihood of the provision passing intact seemed a given.
This was before the internet was in widespread use, and so HSLDA and state homeschool organizations spearheaded a nationwide campaign to mobilize homeschoolers to action. Utilizing Christian radio stations, phone trees, and good old fashioned snail mail, word of the dangerous bill spread like wildfire, and homeschoolers were rallying at state capitol buildings and calling the U.S. Capitol en masse — and with 3 million phone calls, they completely shut down not only the switchboard for Congress, but the switchboard for the entire city of Washington D.C.
Due to the onslaught of calls, an amendment to the bill was added that would get rid of the dangerous provision, and HSLDA president Mike Farris woke up the morning of the vote confident that homeschooling would win the day.
Until the chief of staff for Dick Armey, the sponsor of the amendment, called and said there was a problem.
The Catholic school lobby was concerned about some language in the amendment, and were planning to oppose it. This would cause confusion over the bill, likely leading the vote to be postponed. But this delay would give the Teacher’s Union, who had been blindsided by the homeschool outcry, time to regroup and launch their own campaign that would convince Congress to pass the dangerous bill unamended.
An amendment to the amendment was critical to get the Catholic school lobby on board, but that required special permission from the chairman of the rules committee, a legislator from Massachuesetts. Phone calls to his office were attempted, but they couldn’t get ahold of him.
So there sat the young intern in the HSLDA office, instructed to not answer the phones, but feeling the nudge of the Holy Spirit to pick up the phone.
When she picked up the phone, the person on the other side turned out to be the chief of staff for the chairman of the rules committee, and the intern promptly transferred the call to her father, Mike Farris.
The chief of staff said, “We’re sick and tired of the phone calls, how do we get them to stop?” Mike Farris said he too was sick and tired of the phone calls, and said the only way to get them to stop was to make sure the amendment to the bill went through. Information about the amendment to the amendment was passed to the chairman of the rules committee, and minutes later he was seen on the House floor, talking to Dick Armey and shaking hands. The amendment was amended, and passed the House with only one dissenting vote — the sponsor of the dangerous provision.
But it was ultimately God who won the day. He used thousands of homeschool families who were intent on protecting their freedoms, and like the unrighteous judge who gave in to the widow in the Luke 18 parable, Congress buckled and wavered. Yet in a critical moment, it was the Holy Spirit working through a 17-year-old girl, telling her to pick up a phone, that led to the victory.1
We stand in a similar political climate today here in Colorado. But the godly legislators are facing even more opposition, being publicly persecuted for their faith and standing for God’s truth. And the 120 days of Colorado’s legislative session feels a crushing eternity when you are daily facing such vitriol.
You may feel powerless to be of any help. What could you possibly do to stand up to the evil that is currently having its way down at the Capitol?
Well, just like that 17-year-old girl, God can use your family to make a lasting impact. But how? One way is to express support to those weary legislators doing spiritual battle every day at the Capitol on your behalf. You can do this by sending them an email or note of appreciation. And you can also do so by attending the Homeschool Day at the Capitol on April 13th. Last year, the legislators shared after the event that seeing the homeschoolers gathered on the steps of the Capitol encouraged their souls so much, and helped give them courage to dive back into the fray.
So, what are you going to do to be used by God to impact our state’s future?
1 Taken from an interview with Mike Farris, https://homeschoolsummits.com/history/summit/mike-farris/, Accessed 4 April, 2023