By Michael Dewey, Head of School
Many of our families this year are newcomers to Christian education. For these students and parents, it has likely been new, exciting, scary, and challenging, all rolled into one. For others, this year at ECS has been the continuation of a legacy stretching back generations. As we approach the halfway mark of our first year of operation, I wanted to pass along some reflections recently shared with me by one of our staff members, who herself is a graduate of a Christian high school. For those of you who are new on this journey, I pray you find comfort in her words. While this Christmas vacation is a much-needed respite for all of us, I can only imagine how much it means to our new families. I pray you find rest and recuperation, and that after reading Sandy’s words below, you can rejoice in the knowledge that you also are establishing a legacy for your children and future generations to come.
I want to belong!
Such simple but relevant words.
We would be hard pressed to find four other words that more accurately describe today’s culture. Most often these words express a misguided search for something, for anything, to help one fit in and feel accepted. “I want to belong so that I will be loved, so that my life will have meaning.” We see it on display in our schools, on social media, and even in marketing ads. “Join this movement.” “Identify with this group.” “This . . . will give you everything that you are looking for.” The reality [simple truth] is that everyone wants to belong. It’s a natural feeling we all experience. You might even say we are ‘hardwired’ to search out our place in this world. As I look back on this year of beginnings for ECS, I have even heard these words from students and parents who have been drawn to our school community. “I want to belong.” Of course, expressions of wanting to belong are fundamentally different when voiced by believers.
I will not forget how I begged my uncle, who was also my pastor, to begin a Christian school. I had just spent a very difficult year in a city middle school and desperately wanted out. I was weary from the relentless pressure to decide “where I belonged.” Every school day was a barrage of cliques pulling me in different directions, wanting me to fall in line with how they viewed the world. As a young Christian, it was exhausting. The peer-pressure I was facing at school was slowly undermining my walk with God. You see, I already knew where I belonged, or more specifically, I knew to whom I belonged. I belonged to Christ first and foremost. What I needed was a community of believers reminding me of that truth and encouraging me to develop my faith. I needed a school that stood upon the words of 2 Timothy 3:16-17. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
God created us to know and love him. The need to belong that is hardwired into each of us is a need to belong to him. We can never satisfy that longing with anything other than God. This is why Jesus came into this world. He is God’s answer to the heart crying out to belong.
Today, it is our young teens who are most profoundly crying out daily, struggling with their identity. The need is tremendous. The greatest gift we can give them is a community where they can find their place in Him. I am eternally thankful for my uncle, who heard my cries so long ago and did start a Christian school. I am who I am today in part because of that school. It may have been small, and we did our fair share of moving around to different locations in those early years. Even so, the teachers poured God’s word into my life, and the friends I made there pointed me to Christ.
For Evergreen Christian School, it is not much different. We have seen challenges, but God has been faithfully seeing us through them. We may not have all that we want, but God has provided far more than any of us could have imagined last year at this time. We may not look like the more established schools in our area, but God is establishing himself more firmly in our hearts to take his Gospel to those who need to know to whom they belong. Just as he has given us a true place to belong, we must now share that gift of belonging with others.