My wife, Laura, and I have always known that we would want to educate our children in a Christian environment. We have, together, experienced a wide variety of educational choices, including homeschooling, public school and private Christian education. But, we both knew that Christian education was what we desired for our family if we had the choice. We love the way that Christian education addresses the whole person. It’s not just about academics, but about developing the full person and giving them the gift of being able to see all of life from a Christian perspective.
When we moved to the area after four years of missions work in rural Nigeria, we were excited to learn about Faith Christian Reformed Church’s long-standing relationship with Timothy. I was called to serve as the church’s Minister of Congregational Life and got to quickly meet many people in the community who often shared their stories, which sometimes included Timothy. The more I learned, the more quickly I was persuaded of the value of a Timothy education. So, it wasn’t long after our move that my wife and I started to think through how we might make an education at Timothy possible for our family, including the sacrifices that might entail.
After spending several years in rural Africa, life in the Chicago area started to feel pretty comfortable (even having grocery stores and gas stations around felt like a luxury for a while). We knew that we would have to make some sacrifices, but the decisions we made to make it work – driving a littler older car, not going out to eat that much, and generally living pretty simply – felt relatively small compared to the value of a good Christian education. At some point, as we talked through the costs of having our children attend Timothy, we decided that the value outweighed the cost. So, we decided we would just make it work whatever it took.
Since sending our kids to Timothy, we have only been confirmed in our decision and in the benefits of Christian education. There is something powerful about having other adults reinforce what you’re telling your kids at home. Community can be transformative and we are grateful to know that when our children go to Timothy each day, they are surrounded by adults who share our desire to develop a Christ-centered mind in them. We are moved and motivated by teacher after teacher who invests in our children not just as pupils, but as individuals, who engage deeply with and get to know our kids and what is best for them.
While we know that Christian education is not always possible for everyone, we have recently started to wonder what it might look like – and what kind of impact it might have on the Kingdom of God – if more families had the option to consider Christian education. Our family recently received a scholarship from the Empower Illinois program, part of the Invest in Kids Tax Scholarship Program. While we have always said that we would do all we can to make Christian education work for our family, it has been a great gift to have scholarships this year and it has given us things like more flexibility around the timing of my wife returning to work before our last child enters into school. It has also allowed us to consider ways we might be more generous to others or even start saving for their college.
As a father and a pastor, I know that the intentional discipleship that takes place during a child’s formative years has lifelong benefits. These early years make all of the difference later in life and a good foundation will provide the basis needed for interactions with other viewpoints that are contrary to what we know to be true in Scripture. As more money is made available to help people pay for school – whether through school-sponsored programs like the Timothy Fund, or state-led programs like the Invest in Kids Tax Scholarship Program – my hope is that more and more families who might not otherwise have had the option, will also have the opportunity to consider Christian education.
For my family, Christian education at Timothy has been an act of faith that we have taken for our children. It’s an investment in their future, the returns of which they might not fully realize until they are much older. However, it’s a gift that we gladly give them. We hope that over the years as other parents take acts of faith, and as scholarship programs grow, that many more families will have the joy of giving this most precious gift to their children, as well.
Minister of Congregational Life at Faith CRC