Faith & Learning Blog
Connecting Faith and Learning Blog
We are in a time when things truly are a bit depressing and worrisome. We can’t do a lot of things. We can’t get together with friends, we can’t go to church, we can’t go out for dinner, we can’t go to a concert or a sporting event. Jayne and I can’t see our grandkids like we usually do. All these things are truly a downer.
This short view isn’t very positive. However, we really need to see the long view. This is a practical perspective but also very Biblical. Scripture is full of examples of God telling us to think about what will happen down the path and not just dwell on our conditions at the moment. Some of these include the people of Israel in the desert, Job, New Testament Christians waiting for Jesus return, etc.
I believe we are in a time at Calvin Christian School where we need to take that long view as well. My granddaughter is a kindergartner at Calvin, for which Jayne and I are grateful. She right now has a very short term view. She is troubled that she doesn’t get to see her teacher and asks regularly when she will get to see Mrs. Petro again. She understands she may go to first grade without ever being back with her kindergarten classmates and teacher, and she doesn’t like it.
She is too young to understand the long view. We as adults and especially as Christians, are called to do that. We trust that God is there for us through all our lives. We also understand that eventually we will get to have dinner with friends, go to concerts, and attend church together.
It helps me to know my granddaughter will have the amazing opportunity to grow at Calvin Christian for twelve more years. Hopefully those years will be more like we are used to than the last half of this one. Knowing our history, I am confident she will receive a wonderful Christ-centered education where faith and learning are connected.
Together, let's try to remember the long view. The long view of faith and trust in our heavenly Father for our daily lives and for eternity. The long view that our children and grandchildren will have the stability of Christian teachers and excellent education in the future.
This all gives me hope. I look forward. Forward to watching my grandkids and your children and grandchildren grow in their knowledge and love of the Lord. I look forward to their concerts, plays, ball games, and to the next Grandparents Day. I am thankful they attend a school that has weathered difficulties in the past and will again. Hang in there and take the long view.
Terry Kok is Calvin Christian School's part-time Director of Advancement and former Superintendent. He and his wife, Jayne, have 4 grandchildren. His granddaughter, Annika, is enrolled in Calvin's kindergarten program.
As a high school teacher, I spend a fair amount of time trying to keep up with the memes my students see. Lately, it’s all been Covid-19, and a lot of it is school related. “We’re all homeschoolers now” one person jokes. “If kids are excited to have school cancelled for a virus, maybe there’s something wrong with the system” jibes another. “Me hoping for a day off school before Coronavirus vs me actually in quarantine during Coronavirus” declares a picture of a celebrating movie character next to one that is crying.
That last one fits best with the look I saw in my students’ eyes the last day I got to see them, as we realized we were looking at who knows how many weeks apart. And it wasn’t just fear or anticipation, there was grief there… and not just with the seniors who were struck by all the timeless school traditions we have built and honored that were suddenly thrown into question. It was from everyone. As much as students may complain about school, deep down they realize there is something about being able to greet each other each morning at the lockers, discussing ideas instead of leaving them echoing in your head, or sharing a laugh while eating. Suddenly you can’t lean over to the person next to you and ask for help, your teacher won’t stop you in the hall and encourage you for something they saw, you won’t taste the sweet taste of a team victory, or even the unifying pain of defeat.
If it seems like school just isn’t the same right now, that is because it isn’t. God meant us to be whole together - the school works in conjunction with the family and the church, and that is how God designed it. We are better together. Calvin is not just information and assessments, it is the unwritten curriculum of learning how to live together in God’s world as we love each other well.
The world is broken by sin and disease, but together, we work to build something even in the midst of this uncertainty. Right now, that is the Calvin difference, and everyone plays a part. The board offers to help anyone who is struggling. Administration pulls together a distance education plan in mere days. We pray for each other and lift each other up and celebrate the things that have stayed the same.
The students are the same - they show up to Zoom classes playing the trumpet to make everyone laugh, they miss assignments and make them up, they exceed expectations on a presentation video, they privately trust you with what is going on in their world, they grow even in adversity and amaze me every day. Students are learning.
The teachers are the same - they are passionate and accomplished educators who are in some ways thrown out of their comfort zones, and in another still find themselves completely at home creatively crafting an education in whatever madness the days throw at them. They are not leaving parents to just “homeschool” their children, they are producing videos, learning new technologies, experimenting with entirely different assessments and they are answering every question that comes their way. Teachers are teaching.
And ultimately, God is the same. What is true in the light is true in the dark, and God says of all this “this is mine.” No brokenness cannot be turned for good even when it is impossible to see how yet. But here is dreaming that Calvin can be a beacon of hope to our community in this time: not succumbing to fear, but loving well like the preschoolers that made a parade for their teacher while keeping social distance, learning well like the incredible videos my Sociology students made about how each sociological paradigm would view this global pandemic, and trusting God well, like the remarkable senior who said of all the chaos “God is using it for something, I continue to search for the good.”
True education cannot be reduced to a text on a screen, but it starts with a fear of God and settles into our hearts and changes our lives. This teacher’s heart, for one, cannot thank you enough for taking this journey together.
My senior year is not going how I had originally expected, and I think all of us seniors can agree with that. I know we all had plans that we were looking forward to for the rest of the year, but unfortunately they were canceled. In times like this it can be very easy to turn away from God and ask “Why? Why me? Why now?”, but I see this as an opportunity for us to seek Him instead. This social distancing period has been full of ups and downs, but I can honestly tell you it has been one of the biggest seasons of growth for me in my spiritual life.
In Joshua 1:9 it says, “Do not be afraid for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” This is my favorite verse and it also happens to be our senior class verse. I love this verse because it tells us to not be afraid and to solely rely on Him. To quit listening to fear and letting our emotions take over, because our emotions are not always in line with truth. But our great God is a God of truth, and His Word is truth. These reminders have been keeping my heart at peace. My faith has become so much stronger during this time because I have had so much more time to read and study my Bible, and have been able to spend quality time with God in prayer. There’s a song called “See A Victory,” by Elevation Worship with a line in it that says, “You take what the enemy meant for evil, and You turn it for good.” I think that applies so well to our situation. We could look at our situation and stay fixed on the fact that all of these things are being taken away from us, and how it’s not fair (these feelings are totally valid and it’s okay to be upset,) but this is a chance for us to really lean into Him.
Our God is always good, even in the hard times and the times of uncertainty. Our circumstances may be changing, but He never does. We might not be able to go to school, or to church, or see friends, but the awesome thing about this is, even if we can’t be together, the school building doesn’t make school, the church building doesn’t make church, and community isn’t only when we’re together. We are still one body of believers and God is everywhere. He’s not just in the church, not just at our school, He’s omnipresent and always with us, just like it says in Joshua 1:9.
There are a few things I’ve learned throughout all of this 1) to never take things for granted and 2) to trust God wholeheartedly. There are a lot of simple things in life I’ve taken for granted, such as seeing friends or going to the beach. But, I’ve learned how important family is and to spend time doing things we don’t usually get to do because we didn’t have the time before. We kind of have all the time in the world now, but don’t tell our teachers that ;) I’ve learned to trust God and pray whenever I am anxious or have worries, instead of not taking it to Him and carrying the burden myself. Even if I can’t see His plan, I can still trust it. Of course, it hasn’t all been easy. There have been times when I’ve struggled with doubt, but no matter what my mind says, I know that what God says is the truth.
I want to personally thank all the teachers, staff, Dr. Pratt, and Mr. Stutzman for all of your hard work. Thank you for learning new technology so that even in a global pandemic we still get to learn, and for taking the time out of your day, so we can. Even though it’s not the senior year we were expecting, we are still so, so grateful. Thank you.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:1-4 (NIV)
It has now been over two weeks since most of the United States has been in quarantine. The increasing severity and rising effects of the coronavirus pandemic have caused the world to come to a screeching halt, putting society on pause. Schools, restaurants, stores, and churches have closed. This is a scary time for many people. Not only for those on the frontlines, like healthcare providers and grocery store clerks, but the millions of people self-isolating at home. This pandemic has thrown off many daily routines and paralyzed entire nations. In a world where we used to feel powerful and totally in control, God has humbled us and made clear our completely helpless reality.
In the midst of this phenomenon, God has made his presence and control clear. As Christians, we have a vital role in the navigation of these unique circumstances. We have the opportunity to set an example for the world of how we respond to a crisis and show where our hope and comfort comes from. Psalm 121:1-2 comforts us, saying, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of
heaven and earth.”
Because our help comes from the Lord, our faith can free us from our fear. We know that we have no control over the current state of the world, yet we can also be mindful of the power of prayer. We can not always see what God is doing, but we trust that he is working for our good and for his glory in all of this. When we put our faith in God, we can trust him no matter the outcome. God is far greater than the trials we face. He is bigger than a pandemic. He is greater than the coronavirus. We can solidly put our trust in him to lead us through.
Through reading the Bible, we learn that Jesus is the healer. He performed many miracles throughout his ministry. He is still that same God, capable of healing today. His healing works are a testament to his power and love. As medical technology advances and new discoveries are being made to prevent further spread and eradicate the coronavirus, we see God’s healing power at work. He is using people in the medical field to create vaccines, develop medication to treat the virus, and new methods of detecting it. God is not surprised or afraid of the coronavirus. It is part of his plan and he will use it for his glory.
Our current situation presents a unique opportunity as Christians in the world today. We have the opportunity to spend time at home, growing closer to our families, while also growing closer to Christ. We have time to spend in the word and no excuse otherwise. We should see this trial as an opportunity to grow closer to Christ, and also to be a light to those around us. In times of uncertainty, we can share where our hope is found. It is time we see this trial as an opportunity not to be wasted. Make sure you take time for devotions and reading your Bible, spend time in prayer. Write letters and send cards to those you haven’t seen in awhile. Do not waste this time binging Netflix. See this time as an opportunity to slow down, reach out to those around you, and grow closer to Christ.
Olivia Heinen is a friend and former classmate of CCHS senior Sierra Van Der Pol. Olivia is a senior at Sheboygan Christian High School in Wisconsin.