By Jeff Keaton – Founder & CEO of Renewanation
It was the fall of 2001, and God began to stir in my heart a desire to start a Christian school at the church I was pastoring in Roanoke, Virginia. Starting a Christian school had not been high on my priority list coming out of college. However, as I pastored an inner city church in Hollywood, Florida, and we started to lead many children and teenagers to Christ, I began to see the need for more involvement in their lives than just the 2-3 hours per week we had them at church.
We would lead a teen to Christ, and they would be doing great, but then they would be thrust back under the influence of their local school, and too many of them would be swept away. I remember two teens confiding in me that they had made a commitment to sexual purity, now that they had been saved, but that every day at school their commitment was ridiculed and made fun of. I know, it should have just made them stronger, but for far too many teens it had just the opposite effect. As hard as we tried, we kept losing many kids to the lies of the culture. I started to dream about what difference it would make if we could have these kids under our influence for seven hours every school day.
I was never able to see that dream realized for most of our kids in Florida, but here I was in the fall of 2001 contemplating if we should take the leap into Christian education at our church in Virginia.
One night, the Lord led me to the home of a young couple who had educational experience and background. They had been feeling a pull towards ministry for more than a year. As I sat across from them in their living room, the Holy Spirit spoke to me about asking them to help start a school. As soon as I asked, they said yes! Nine months later we opened the doors of Parkway Christian Academy with 37 (K-8 grade) students. Over the next seven years, we took a wild ride as we watched the school grow to 388 students.
You might ask, did starting a Christian school have the impact you expected on the lives of your children and teens? The answer is an emphatic yes!
If you’re asking whether or not all the kids met all of our expectations, the answer is an emphatic no! Educating students is one of the greatest challenges known to mankind. Our students faced the same physical, spiritual, emotional, and intellectual challenges all students face. However, in spite of those facts, we saw our Christian education effort transform the hearts and minds of our young people.
Yes, we had students fall into sin, and we had rebellious students. There were students who disrespected their teachers on occasion, and we had to expel some students. We also had to work hard to mold and shape their character.
In spite of the challenges, we saw hundreds of students come to know Christ and develop a Christ-centered, biblical view of life.
I had the wonderful privilege of speaking at the baccalaureate service for the Parkway Christian Academy class of 2015. This class is very special to me because six of these students had been at PCA from the very first day we opened the school. They were in our kindergarten class in 2002 and were graduating after 13 years of study.
I am sure that none of them are perfect, but they are sharp, well-trained, biblically literate, motivated young men and women. They see the world through the lens of biblical truth. I know they are going to make a significant difference in this world.
This is what we dreamed of when God called us to get involved in Christian education. Rather than these young people having been indoctrinated from a non-biblical perspective over the last 13 years and 16,000 hours of schooling, they have been given the truth at every turn and on every subject. Mission accomplished!
It was this experience, of seeing the day to day impact a Christian school could have on the life of a child, that God used to lead me to the vision of Renewanation.
Today, our team at Renewanation is totally committed to giving millions of new children the same opportunity our students at Parkway Christian Academy have received over the last 13 years. We have seen first hand the huge difference in thinking, attitude, and actions that a Christian education brings to the life of a child. As we give more children this life-changing opportunity, our country will slowly but surely begin to return to the core, Christian values that will give this generation a bright and hopeful future.
This article originally appeared in The Renewanation Review® magazine. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted here by permission of Renewanation. For more information regarding Renewanation, visit renewanation.org.