Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sharing a Need

"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:19, ESV

When the Apostle Paul was in need, some of the members of the Philippian church mentioned it, and God prompted the members of the church to come forward with gifts that helped sustain his ministry.  Paul really didn't even have to mention his need, God took care of that for him and supplied him with what he needed.  The Philippian Christians weren't necessarily prosperous people, in fact, most of the church members were slaves, and many of them were women.  But God used them to meet a need.

We have a need at PCS that has been created by the tax credit scholarship program we utilize, EITC, reaching its capacity for allocations during the past couple of years.  Scholarship money, donated by businesses for the purpose of helping income-qualified families have an educational choice for their children, comes from private business firms who receive a tax credit based on the amount they contribute.  They get a 90% credit for a two year commitment, 75% for a one year commitment.  Because it is a tax credit, the dollar amount is capped by the state at $50 million.  That means that there will be some businesses who get placed on a waiting list when they re-apply, once all the available credits have been given out.  That is what happened to financial aid at PCS this fall.

The cap has left us about $125,000 short of scholarship money, which would be added to the budged on behalf of families who applied.  We are committed to keeping all of the students that God has sent our way, so if we are not able to find some way of replacing these funds this year, we will have to make some budget adjustments and changes that will affect the school community, including the ability to provide our teachers with a salary increase. 

So, we are making God's people aware of our need.  There are several avenues through which contributions can be made to help meet this need, and to provide for future financial aid so that we are able to know what we have available before we ask families to commit to a tuition contract. 

Warrior Legacy Fund
Contributions to the Warrior Legacy Fund can be made directly, without any application process or approval through a scholarship program fund.  This money goes directly to scholarship for income-qualified families, and is the best way for individuals who feel that they've been blessed by abundance from God to contribute to PCS.  Though there is not a state tax credit tied to this contribution, all gifts to PCS are tax deductible.  An outside firm has determined the eligibility of all families who receive financial aid or scholarships from PCS.

EITC/OSTC Tax Credits
The Pennsylvania legislature has established a tax credit program for private school scholarships based on financial need.  This is not "state money."  The money comes from private contributors who designate an amount to a specific school's scholarship fund, and in exchange for that, the state provides them with a credit against their corporate tax obligation, 90% for a two year commitment to the program, 75% for a one year commitment.  The legislature recently created a "swinging gate" between the two sections of this program that will allow credits from the OSTC side that hasn't reached capacity, to be applied to EITC scholarships after January 1, 2015.

Businesses which apply now, and are approved before the end of the year, can have their contribution go through the "swinging gate" and be applied after January 1.  If you are interested in this program, which also provides a tax deduction for the contribution on your federal tax liability, please contact Miriam Lowery, through the school office.  You can also contact the office of the Children's Tuition Fund at ACSI in Lancaster, PA, and inquire about designating a tax credit contribution to Portersville Christian School.

Please join us in prayer as we ask God to provide for our need, by meeting the financial needs of the families who have exercised their choice to have their children educated in a place that worships and honors God, and serves him by serving his son, Jesus. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Prayer Foundation

The modern Christian school movement in America can trace its origins to 1962.  That was the year that the Supreme Court handed down the Engle vs. Vitale decision which struck down state-written and recited prayers in public school, and subsequent decisions which made prayer in school unconstitutional under the establishment clause. 

In Portersville, Pennsylvania, at a small Christian and Missionary Alliance church outside the city limits, these decisions were not taken lightly, and there was an immediate response, the result of which was the establishment of Portersville Christian School in the basement classrooms of the church.  There were two teachers and 26 students.  It's hard to understand how you can have education taking place, when knowledge and wisdom are things that are revealed by God and not discovered by man, and not be able to keep in touch with the source of those things. 

Though its history, the school has been dependent on prayer for its very existence, as well as for establishing and sustaining its mission, vision and purpose, and for attaining the desired student outcomes when it comes to a mature, developing, growing faith in Jesus.  There have been times, I'm told, when resources did not appear to meet needs, when needs became overwhelming, and when the only option seemed to be to just close the doors and move on.  But people prayed, and God honored their prayers by revealing his will, and answering them.  Though the school has never had the luxury of having extensive capital reserves, God has always met the need when it was given to him. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and turn away from evil."  Proverbs 3:5-7, NASB

There are 260 students who come to our campus each weekday, and spend about 6 1/2 hours of their time here.  And while they mostly come from good Christian homes and families, there's not any way to know what troubles, burdens and problems those students bring with them.  Things happen in life which can undermine faith, kill self-confidence, and subvert the will of God in someone's life.  And so things happen with students which require teaching beyond the classroom, in the lessons of life, spiritual maturity, consequences for behavior, and abundant grace that can only come from the love of God himself. 

Perhaps, because of seeing these things occur, and dealing with students, faculty and staff every day, I have come to a point where I cannot even comprehend trying to resolve issues and deal with circumstances without first going to my knees (so to speak) and giving the whole thing to God.  That's not easy to do for a professional, complete with degrees, who wants to have confidence in himself.  But it is absolutely necessary if you want to honor God and do the right thing.  And when it comes to tempering consequences of sin with grace, the Holy Spirit is an expert at blending those things together.  Prayer makes this happen.

And my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:19, NASB

We often associate this verse with our own prosperity, in the context of material blessings.  But it is set in a passage that speaks about riches which are spiritual, and not necessarily material.  The "need" may be as simple as how to help one of my students understand this math concept, or how to teach students that a particular historical event has had an affect on their culture and way of life.  It may be a deeper, spiritual need in order to deal with a life issue that has become a burden, or a hindrance to our faith, or even an attack of the enemy intended to wreck spiritual progress.  The passage of Philippians where this particular verse is found is also the place where you read, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me," 4:13 and "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things."  4:8-9. 

At youth camp many years ago, in a rustic setting in Arizona's Chiricahua Mountains, at the Pine Canyon Methodist Camp, Philippians 4 was our theme, and we spend the week "practicing" its principles on each other.  Of course, it was a sheltered environment, and most everyone there was from one of the 13 churches that sent groups to the camp.  But I will never forget the acronym that the camp pastor taught us to remember the principles from this passage.  The acronym is the word JOY, which you can have if you put Jesus first, the needs of Others ahead of your own, and Yourself last.  If you get these priorities straight, you will see that God is indeed a God of his word, and can be trusted to supply all your needs.

He might even use you to help supply someone else's.