Fearlessness. Faith. Future

60 years and going strong

It was three years ago at one of our Seniors Days that I ate lunch with a group of grandparents from Jarvis. I only knew a few of them so I just listened to them talk.  I was privileged to hear them tell stories about the early days of Hamilton District Christian High (HDCH). During this lunch, they reminisced about the “men’s society meetings” and the “women’s society meetings” where it was discussed whether or not to establish a Christian high school in Hamilton. Then I heard about the decision to go ahead with the idea, and the first Hamilton District Christian School Society meeting. What struck me the while listening to this history was three things: Fearlessness, Faith, and the Future. And as we celebrate our 60th year of operation, I believe these three words continue to ring true for us today.

The 1956 decision to start a Christian high school in Hamilton had a fearlessness about it, a fearlessness that was deeply rooted in a conviction that our God would provide. In many ways, Christian Education doesn’t make a lot of sense. The people who began our school were primarily Dutch Christians, recently Entire school - late 1950simmigrated to Canada, with a strong penchant to live out of a Reformed worldview. They didn’t have generations of resources to draw on as they started this initiative of Christian high school education. They were, however, deeply faithful and very industrious. They believed in a future for their children that included learning a Christian worldview–even while the idea of spending a significant amount of money to educate their children in a country where free public education was offered may have seemed somewhat counterintuitive. And I have to admit there are times I wonder if I would have had that kind of courage. While I’d like to think that I do, I am very, very thankful for the group that acted on their conviction to start our Christian High School 60 years ago.

I believe that Christian schools, Hamilton included, exist today because of this fearlessness to start and the faithful response of the communities.

As the principal at HDCH, I have heard countless faith stories of God’s provision and blessing for Christian education. Some of you have said to me, “I don’t know how we did it, but the Lord provided” — even through the sometimes overwhelming two-school-tuition years! And then there have been times when we as the administration were wondering how we would make the budget work, only to have an anonymous donation show up at the office the next day which more than covered it. And personally, I have been blessed to have my own parents and grandparents share such stories with me from their communities. 60 years of Christian high school education in Hamilton is a big deal: it reaches many generations.

Classroom_1963But it isn’t just finances that make Christian education a big deal. At HDCH, we dare to be radical, we dare to be a different type of school; one that leads, one that works at our craft, and one that is distinctive from top to bottom. From governance to learning, we believe we can be and are called to be different, different in a way that is excellent and worthy of our deep faith in God. Like every community of Christian faith, we believe we are called to do our best with the resources that we have.

In all we do, we start with a commitment to be obedient to our God, even when obedience doesn’t make sense on a spreadsheet, a whiteboard or a tablet. We commit all we have to Him and then step out in faith. Sometimes the step of faith is enrolling our children, sometimes it is providing tuition assistance to a family in our church, and sometimes it is being a father or mother figure to a struggling teen who isn’t our child. Even now, in the days of business plans, savings accounts, RESP’s, RRSP’s and everything else, Christian education continues to “not make sense”; it continues to be a test of our faith and our fearlessness. And as we act on our faith, like the founders of this school did 60 years ago, we see God bless and bring to fruition. As a community, 60 years has allowed us to see God’s blessing.

2016 (2)
Today, because of fearlessness and faith, HDCH opens its doors for the 60th time. 60 years of Christian Education really is quite something worth celebrating. While we look back with appreciation for the sacrifice and commitment of the the community that has made this school possible, we also look ahead to the future. Launching into the next 60 years of HDCH will require the same kind of fearless faith. The future is now; it is the work we do today, and the decisions we make as parents, board members and staff members that impact the future of our families, communities and city. And this is why we will continue at HDCH to produce exceptional Christian education for the Hamilton District region.

HDCH has grown beyond the small group of immigrants that founded this school 60 years ago, so we are known less for our ethnic roots than for our Christian worldview, exceptional learning and acts of service. The ripples of blessing have spread and continue to spread far beyond the small community that birthed the vision. Learning has changed and grown, and God has continued to provide the resources to enable this growth. We know that the future will be different than it is today, and we know that in order to bring flourishing in the Kingdom of God we will need to keep working at it. We are excited to see how God will continue to use HDCH in the city of Hamilton and beyond to carry out the mission and vision for the next 60 years of Christian education.

Nathan Siebenga