A little over six months after the Rev. Chad Lawrence announced to parishioners at the Parish Church of St. Helena’s that an anonymous benefactor had promised to match $750,000 in a six-month, all-or-nothing challenge for Holy Trinity Classical Christian School, he once again stood before the parishioners on Sept. 7 to announce that the goal had not only been met, but exceeded. Lawrence announced that a total of $ 1,673,000 would be deposited to establish the “Farrell and Elizabeth Runyan Scholarship Fund” at Holy Trinity Classical Christian School for families who could not otherwise meet the financial requirements of the school.
In making the announcement last Sunday, Rev. Chad Lawrence, who also serves as the school’s headmaster, said, “It is truly amazing how the community has come together for the future of our children, our nation, and our faith. Checkbooks have been opened and piggy banks emptied to provide families in our community who otherwise might not be financially able the opportunity for their children to receive a life-changing classical Christian education.”
Lawrence also announced that the anonymous benefactor was the Farrell and Elizabeth Runyan Endowment Fund that issued the “Raise Up A Child” challenge.
Farrell and Elizabeth Runyan, the fund’s namesake, were missionaries who went to Africa in 1946 to dedicate their lives to the fulfillment of The Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19 (ESV).
Over the next 40 years, they lived this command going to Nigeria, Senegal, the Ivory Coast and Swaziland to spread the Gospel.
In 1993, to honor their service by providing financial assistance for projects that also furthered the Great Commission, the Farrell and Elizabeth Runyan Endowment Fund was created. It has purchased, translated and distributed Bibles to eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, hymnals for churches in Swaziland, translated the “Jesus” film for Southern African languages, funded a chemistry lab for a Baptist High School in Nyeri, Kenya, provided church planting tents in Kenya, built a maternity clinic in Malawi, aided persecuted believers in Iran, and supported Young Life of Beaufort.
“Saying thank you to the Farrell and Elizabeth Runyan Endowment Fund is hardly enough,” Lawrence said. “As the Runyans’ mission experiences often proved, ‘What God orders, He pays for.’ Again, He has done so with us, and more.”
Alan Runyan, the son of Farrell and Elizabeth and trustee of the fund, said this is not really the end of the fund but a new beginning.
“The Endowment Fund is taking its greatest and final step onto the most important mission field of the 21st century: training up young minds in the way they should go. For these young minds, trained in the way they should go, will be tomorrow’s missionaries to a lost world in whatever they do, wherever they go,” Runyan said. “It brings a wealth of emotions for me, it causes me to think about the lives of my mother and father and what they stood for, all the effort and the risks they took and it truly is a moment of both humility and challenge. Humility because of what has been done in such a short time and the challenge to the school to educate children with the kind of love for humanity that my mother and father would cherish.”
According to Lawrence, the classical Christian education not only provides a quality education but also equips youth with a strong Biblical foundation so they become ambassadors for the Kingdom of God, fully prepared to defend and advance the apostolic Christian faith.
Holy Trinity school provides a centuries-old, tried-and-true approach to education. “We endeavor to expose students to the good, the beautiful, and the true in all areas of human learning that we might cultivate well-rounded wise, virtuous, and eloquent leaders who are prepared to go wherever God calls them,” Lawrence stated. “A primary objective of classical, Christian education is to teach students how to learn,” Lawrence said. “Learning the truth is important, but learning how to seek the truth is even more critical.”
Such classical education was used to educate most of America’s founding fathers, as well as the world’s philosophers, scientists and leaders between the 10th and 19th centuries.
While there has been a resurgence in classical Christian education, Lawrence said that Holy Trinity’s growth has been quite dramatic since it opened in 2012. “We grew from 100 students the first year (PreK through fifth), to 150 students the second year (when the school added sixth grade), to 190 students this year (when the school added a seventh grade) and we are at capacity,” he said.
Lawrence said that many of the schools they visited started with only seven or eight students but that the Beaufort community has responded in such an incredible way to this educational approach that the initial growth that Holy Trinity has realized is almost unheard of in the classical, Christian educational community. He said that others who want to start a classical Christian school are now visiting the Holy Trinity campus for more insight.
“However, the most encouraging part,” Lawrence said, “is how the students are responding.”
He said that the 2013-2014 ITBS testing scored Holy Trinity’s kindergarten in the 99 percentile nationwide, and across all grades, the school scored in the 95 percentile.
“It has indeed been a tremendous two years,” Lawrence said, “and with the generosity of the Farrell and Elizabeth Runyan Endowment Fund, the parishioners at St. Helena’s, Beaufort and its surrounding community, we eagerly look forward to the opportunity to serve the community of Beaufort as we help ‘Raise Up A Child’ for years to come.”