History before 1994
To review the history of private Christian education in South Africa, there is a need to go back to the early eighties when there was an outcry among evangelical Christians for true Christian Education. They were certainly no longer interested in what the state presented as National Christian Education. If you did not belong to one of the three “Sister Churches” you had no possibility of being promoted to the position of head of school or the deputy. A further challenge was that except for assemblies you were not allowed to read or use the Bible in class during academic time. Furthermore teaching and preaching of the Word was deemed the work and responsibility of the minister on Sundays.
This was the world and reality in which we grew up and in which both my parents taught.
Accelerated Christian Education (ACE)
In 1984 the first ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) school opened in Randburg under the name The King’s School Robin Hills. This was an American system of self-study on a modular basis which integrated the Word. Very soon other churches, mainly Charismatic and Pentecostal, like Hatfield, Harvest, Calvary, Rhema and Covenant started opening schools. Consequently, a small school was opened in Skeerpoort on the farms under the name Skeerpoort Christian School. My family heard of this move through friends whose children joined the school. In July 1986 my mother began to teach at the school and my younger sister and I joined the school. I was in Gr 9 at that stage. Shortly after that, in January 1987 my father became the principal of the school. This decision followed a lot of prayers. The cost of the move on a personal as well as financial level was great.
My father, Han Sipsma, joined leaders such as Ray McCauley, Ed Roebert, Ashton Sparrow, Trevor Yoko, Tony Selby, Alan Sutherland, Jenny Joubert, Liz Walton, Ian Vermooten, John van Breda, Peter Varrie, Johan de Jager and Kobus van Rensburg (those are some of the names I can still remember). These leaders stood for this new move of Christian Schools even to the point where the government threatened them with imprisonment. Due to Pastor Ray McCauley’s intervention through a strong legal voice, the Department of Education dropped the case.
Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI)
This move under the ACE curriculum and other schools of different curricula then became known as CESA, Christian Education South Africa. Later it changed to ACS, Association of Christian Schools in 1995. In 1999 the ACS divided into the ACE schools standing on their own and other Christian schools remained under the ACS banner. In 1999 the ACS group planned the All Africa Educators Conference in Pretoria. ACSI presented it in 2000. At this conference ACS invited ACSI, Association of Christian Schools International, which is based in the USA to come to South Africa and ACS became ACSI SA.
Only the Lord knows what the true shift that happened in the Spirit in South Africa is due to these schools in the field of education, mainly because so much happened under the radar and at ground level. These early leaders were true pioneers of Christian Education who broke the yoke of the Colonized system of National Christian Education.
At the same time, another move happened through other brothers whom I only came to know of in 1999. The first is Samson Makhado and his colleagues when they started Tshikeva Christian School in Venda in the early nineties. The second is FCE, Foundations for Cross-Cultural Education started by Neels de Jager also in the early nineties at Wolseley in the Western Cape. These men will be able to expand even further on the work done by the Lord at ground level despite the government policies.
An interesting concept is the concept of colonization. If we consider the message of Jesus which was to “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” and His model prayer; “Father, let Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven” we have to ask some critical questions.
- What is a Kingdom? If a kingdom is a domain, country or realm of authority over which a king has ownership and Rulership it gives a certain picture.
- If the Kingdom must come on earth as in heaven, what does this statement mean? One can conclude that Christ was asking and preaching that the original Kingdom, which is heaven and the seat of God, must come to the foreign territory called Earth. He created it in the first place but man declared independence. Man then influenced it with the nature, culture, laws, worship, lifestyle, family values, ordinances and precepts surely He was praying for heaven to colonize earth.
Colonization by definition means for one country to influence another with its culture, nature and laws. The very principles of governance and life. On earth, one country colonized another through war, with Christ it happens through love and grace.
Therefore, one can conclude that the message of the Kingdom is that God as the King of Heaven will re-colonize earth, and in our case the sphere of Education, with His Kingdom principles, nature, culture, laws and precepts. This was the purpose of the second Adam. He had to restore that which the first Adam lost in the colony of Earth when mankind through Adam declared independence from the Kingdom of God.
True Nature of Christian Education
This, I believe, is the true nature and purpose of Christian Education. When we have the children of God bring Christ back into education with all His Kingdom purposes, plans, culture, laws and nature.