Text of remarks made at the dedication of Hope PR Christian High School (Redlands, CA) by Duane Huisken.
Psalm 127:1 states, “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” The same may be said about those who built this high school.
Throughout the addition of this high school, patience was a necessary ingredient. At the January 21 groundbreaking, it was mentioned that construction was delayed because of a dead tree. Even in this, God was teaching us patience.
In God’s providence, the parents of Redlands Protestant Reformed Church, which was organized in 1932, wanted and found a way to start and maintain our own Christian school in 1934, the denomination’s first. We all know the history, how the church and school were lost in 1954. However, the unquenchable desire once again to have our own school is evident from the formation of the Hope Christian School Society and its incorporation July 19, 1967. The men who served on those initial society boards already had the desire for more than just a grade school. The charter granted by the state of California included both a grade school and a high school.
These were lofty goals, as at the time we did not have a building, teachers, or students; we just had the desire. This God-given desire for our own schools continues to be passed from generation to generation, as there are great-grandchildren of those original society members in our school now. In the late 1960s and early 1970s the men of the early society approved buying and selling several plots of land before they acquired the original East Brockton four and a half acres.
Besides this desire, God also had to grant us patience. A long time has elapsed from those initial feasibility boards to the grade school and now this high school. We are blessed to still have with us a few of those men—Everett, Bill, Chuck, John, Otto, and Jake—who dedicated hours upon hours to our school. Today’s board members stand on their shoulders in managing the school society’s vision.
We know that a number of our schools in the West face different challenges, but we also know that we are blessed with a cooperative spirit that has allowed us to build this next level of covenant education. Planners, accountants, engineers, curriculum-development specialists, and teachers all engaged this God-given spirit before we broke ground. Once we broke ground, a different skillset kicked into gear to get this school built. Once again, God was teaching us patience through challenges, obstacles, and serious injury (We do not call them accidents, as with God there are no accidents— only providence.) The Redlands School Society is blessed with professionals in all the skills required to plan, fund, build, staff, and maintain this school.
The high school has more square footage under its roof than the K–4 building. Previous school buildings only needed to have electricity, gas, water and sewer services connected. Today I am told there is more than 5,000 feet of fiber-optic cabling between the buildings, so the computers all have Internet access. We have more sophisticated fire sprinklers and fire alarms. It has been mentioned before—and it bears repeating—that even though building the school is expensive, that initial outlay is the smallest part of the investment; the ongoing operating expenses of teachers’ salaries, utilities, and health insurance will far surpass the building cost.
While we are on the subject of cost, the various school boards may have sent out solicitation letters, but it was the Lord of the harvest who opened the wallets of those within and outside of our school society.
When the first high school building plans were proposed, the building was smaller. However, we continued to fundraise through the providential delays. Because we were able to build using almost entirely the money we had on hand, we did not have to take out a conventional loan. Right now, we are able to borrow a very small amount from our own general fund. We are blessed that God opened the hearts and wallets of very generous supporters of distinctive Reformed education. This includes an anonymous donation of the half-acre of land, large gifts from Protestant Reformed education foundations, individuals outside Redlands who value Reformed education, construction material donations, and scores of donors who give what the Lord puts in their hearts to give. As a result, the construction costs are not passed on to the parents’ tuition burden.
Covenant Christian education is an investment. It is often one of the most significant draws on a family’s budget, even more than food and housing. We believe our children are part of God’s covenant and represent the church’s future. The wickedness of the public schools and the falling away of the nominally Christian churches are why we know God has given us the means and the desire to have our own distinctively Reformed high school. In one of Rev. (now Professor) B. Huizinga’s last sermons in Redlands, he raised several points regarding our responsibilities to these precious gifts from God. Children are a gift from God. The devil is just inside the door of public schools waiting to snatch these young, impressionable souls. We have distinctively Reformed schools not to make our children Christians, but because we believe that they are in God’s covenant.
For our continuation as one of the reflections of light in this world and for all our little lights who attend this school, we continue to covet your support and prayers for this work of God’s kingdom here on earth.
Just a few weeks before we opened the high school, I was talking to a long-term supporter of our school. His comment when asked what he thinks of it was simply, “Wow.” He was part of the group that built the original school in spring and summer of 1975, when the construction was simpler and still done by volunteers. I am sure that part of his “wow” was that since the original vision of two classrooms with a kitchen, we have grown to eight teachers, four aides and more than 60 children on campus with a projection of near 100 in the next five years. The “wow” factor also includes the students. In the next “Hope Herald” there will be a number of articles that show a few of the details that were built in, from a water-bottle filler (saving thousands of plastic water bottles), to lockers, to enhanced conference calling that allows for our Spanish teacher to be in Ireland, to a first-class science laboratory that encompasses chemistry and physics as well as the other sciences. We and our students are truly blessed in the pursuit of knowledge of God’s creation.
Such building projects require a lot of cooperation, but to be successfully completed before the deadline requires a dedicated project manager. We would like to thank Mark and Ron Van Voorthuysen for the hundreds of hours they spent shepherding our project through the various city departments, meeting with the various inspectors, subcontractors and school boards, acting as unpaid general contractors with our best interests in mind.
I will refer to it as Hope Christian High School, rather than Hope Christian School High School, as I believe more than one instance of the word “school” is redundant.
Ladies, gentlemen and students, we hereby dedicate Hope Christian High School to the secondary education of God’s young people. Our gracious heavenly Father receives all the glory for providing all of our needs, and especially this wonderful means of advancing God’s work here on earth.