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Although the history and nature of these relationships are different, they all serve to advance the cause of Christian education globally while allowing SCS to discover what God is doing in the world. GPCE is linked to Surrey Christian School in its goals and mandate, but has a separate board, constitution and bylaws and has its own charitable tax status. GPCE‘s board of directors are approved by GPCE’s membership, the SCS school board. The board currently consists of Sylvia DeWeerd, Tim Antonides, Janet VanderHeiden, Alice Wamai, and Joe Melissen (chair). The director is Judith Carcamo.
One way that Surrey Christian School lives into it’s mission statement of engaging God’s world in the servant way of Jesus is by supporting one of our partner schools, Juan Calvino Christian School, situated in Choluteca, Honduras. Our original connection with Juan Calvino began in 2002 when one of our grade 4 teachers, Janet Vander Heiden, went to Honduras as part of a small team organized by what was then called the Christian Teachers Association of BC. The purpose of this trip was to visit 5 different Christian schools and spend a few weeks in Choluteca. Ms. Vander Heiden taught English to students in kindergarten through grade 6, supported staff and learned about the challenges of being a Christian schoolteacher in Central America. She was so moved and compelled by what she saw that she made two more trips to continue building our relationship with Juan Calvino.
Surrey Christian School students have been involved in a variety of fundraising efforts to assist with tuition fees as school fees and uniform costs are obstacles for many of the families who wish to send their children to Juan Calvino. By providing tuition relief, Juan Calvino can continue to serve the students and families in their community, as well as support their staff by providing regular income.
In 2005, just as the Secondary Campus (then known as Fraser Valley Christian High School) was beginning the process of renovating their building, they felt called to partner somewhere in the developing world to support the advancement of Christian education. We partnered with World Renew and the Christian Reformed Church which had a mission in Sierra Leone. This partnership led to the building of a primary school which opened it doors in September of 2007. The funds for the building project came from an enormous fundraising effort by our students in conjunction with the tithing of our school’s capital campaign.
Kabala is situated in Koinadugu District, in Sierra Leone. People expect very little from this impoverished northern province, however, Kabala Christian School has put the district and town on the map with students scoring among the highest in the country. After several years our US partners, Schools for Sierra Leone, joined this venture and have generously funded much of the new building projects. They continue to be important partners in this good work as together we fund a large percentage of the costs of daily operation.
A quality education and literacy are what can lift a child out of poverty. The students graduating from the Christian school in Kabala are going on to study at colleges and universities around the country which was unheard of 15 years ago. In just a short time those alumni will be making their own contribution to the country and possibly even to the school they graduated from.
We are proud to regularly send a team of students to visit the school, live in the community and experience rural African life, a truly life-changing event. God has blessed us in order to bless others and this relationship is a testimony to that circle of blessing.
In the late 1990’s we were visited by an inspiring South African, Dr. Samson Makhado, who had established a Christian school in the Northern Limpopo Province of South Africa. He was completing his Masters in Canada and visiting Christian schools. This visit led to some initial trips and then a half-year teaching assignment for Dennis and Jenny deGroot to Tshikevha Christian School in South Africa in January of 2002. One of the hopes of this new relationship was that some day students would be able to visit back and forth. This quickly became a reality as two students from SCS visited the following year and shorty after we received our first two guests from TCS. This relationship has continued to flourish with students visiting every other year.
As partnerships increased globally, we began to look for avenues to deepen our intercultural learning closer to home. Through a series of connections in 2014, we developed a relationship with iCount High School in the First Nations community of Moricetown, British Columbia. Since then the iCount community has generously hosted several teams of visitors from SCS, and these trips have provided extremely authentic and rich learning experiences. Thanks to this relationship, students and staff at SCS have gained a more profound sense of the realities facing our indigenous brothers and sisters and have developed a greater desire and capacity to move toward reconciliation. We are looking forward to seeing how this relationship grows in the years to come.