The Firewood

April Article Updated 2018.jpg

Living Stones Series: First Published in All Around Old Bridge Publication – April 2018

By Pastor Lloyd Pulley

“‘I will just put them in the trunk of my car.'”

Kalene Redvanly’s face reddened ever so slightly as she quoted her great-grandfather, Thomas Safar.

Safar had known the Archbishop Samuel of Jerusalem, who had received seven pieces of ancient leather from Bedouin shepherds in the late 1940’s. During a trip to Jersey City, the Archbishop Samuel, who did not yet know the significance of the scrolls, casually handed them to Safar, who proceeded to store them in the trunk of his car.

“At one point, my great-uncle found the scrolls in the trunk and told my great-grandfather to throw them out,” Kalene explains. “But my great-grandfather refused to throw the leather scrolls out, simply because the Archbishop had asked him to keep them safe,” she says, as she verifies her family’s remarkable account with documents, photos of her family with the Archbishop, and even a signed copy of one of his books.

Imagine! These ancient scrolls, which were later authenticated as one of the earliest findings of the Dead Sea Scrolls to contain portions of the Biblical book of Isaiah, were in the trunk of a car and could have been thrown in the garbage!

Just last week, I met with the director of the Qumran Plateau excavations, Dr. Randall Price, in Qumran Israel where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. He shared his astonishment at the fact that the scrolls had traveled all the way to NJ, a bit of information that was previously unknown to him and other experts in the field. Price even conveyed that members of the Israeli Department of Antiquities were thrilled when they viewed Kalene’s video account and documentation. Price is presently at a new cave site, excavating and piecing together more of the Dead Sea Scrolls’ rich history. Remarkable how these priceless Dead Sea Scrolls traveled all the way to Jersey City, NJ decades ago!

Kalene, currently a senior at Calvary Christian School (CCS), is one example of the many remarkably thoughtful, capable young students currently attending CCS. CCS students, like Kalene, are learning to understand where they came from and to have vision about where they are going.

The accredited pre-K through 12th grade college preparatory school of Calvary Old Bridge, CCS is dedicated to educating the minds of young people, while discipling their hearts – that is, training young people what it means to be a disciple, or follower, of Jesus Christ in today’s culture. Watching this young woman share her story reminds me that the very purpose of the school is to train young people to think critically and beyond themselves.

Joe Fischer, a CCS valedictorian, recently shared some insights about his education at CCS during the school’s annual gala. Utilizing the imagery given by Princeton theologian Archibald Alexander, Joe likened Christian school instruction to firewood on a fireplace. Without the fire – the transforming work of the Spirit of God – firewood will produce no warming flame. But without firewood, there can be no fire either. To Fischer, Christian education was his firewood, ready to be ignited by God’s work in his life.

A current student at Rutgers and a pastoral intern at Calvary Old Bridge, Fischer explained his experience at CCS this way, “I valued the small class sizes and the access that they gave me to my teachers and peers. I loved being able to spend a whole period talking about worldview or studying God’s Word.”

Developing young people with a strong education and a Biblical worldview is the cornerstone of Calvary Christian School, and I see young people, like Kalene Redvanly and Joe Fischer, growing up to be the next generation’s leaders, thinkers, and change-makers.

I understand these young people would not be where they are if not for the daily sacrifices of their parents. I meet with these parents frequently, and am always struck by their passionate investment in their children’s education and character.

In fact, Jim Dunne, principal of CCS, recently mentioned how the parents stood out so clearly to him at the gala. “The parents made for an exceptional night. Not only do they regularly sacrifice for their own kids, but they are also the boots on the ground, helping other parents’ children by organizing and coordinating the gala to benefit the CCS Scholarship Fund, which helps families afford a Christian education.”

Mayor Owen Henry and representatives from the Old Bridge Municipality also attended the gala and were greatly encouraged by the caliber Calvary Christian School students and alumni, several of whom shared their experiences that night. Also on hand was Dan Simon, former principal of High Technology High School, a nationally ranked, pre-engineering career academy, and the newest addition to the CCS staff. With over 25 years of professional educational experience, Dan is investing in the school’s teachers, curricula, and S.T.E.A.M. (Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics) initiatives. I couldn’t be more excited to see what Dan will bring to further our school’s academic excellence.

Martin Luther King once said, “Intelligence plus character – that is the true goal of education.” Educators like Jim Dunne and Dan Simon work hand-in-hand with our parents to fully invest in the development of the intellect and the character of CCS students. I am reminded again of the vision of this school – education by discipleship – and I couldn’t be prouder to be part of creating that firewood, ready to be kindled by God Himself.

Aaron Salvato