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Every Thought Captive

Friday, January 26, 2024 @ 11:27 AM Every Thought Captive Joy Lucius The Stand Writer MORE

Imagine a 4-year-old girl excitedly describing her pre-k classmates: “Ava is so pretty; ze has long red hair. Liam is shy, so I played with zim during recess. Olivia gave me one of zir new pencils.”

Ze, zim, zir? What happened to she, him, and her?

In today’s culture, gender-specific pronouns are commonly being replaced with these gender-neutral pronouns, and the National Education Association (NEA) is one of the organizations pushing such rhetoric as the norm for students ages pre-k through 12th grade.

In its official pronoun guideline, the NEA, the nation’s largest teacher union, claims early childhood education is necessary because most Americans grew up assuming they “knew someone’s pronouns just by looking at them, or knowing their gender, but that isn’t the case.”

Defying the darkness

Such a claim clearly defies the biblical authority found in Genesis 1:27 (ESV): “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

But what recourse do Christian parents have when the NEA is advocating for deviant gender indoctrination of 4-year-olds?

For some parents, homeschooling has become the answer to that dilemma.

The National Home Education Research Institute reports that at least 3.135 million students were homeschooled in 2022. Other sources believe the number to be much higher since not all states require homeschool student registration.

For other parents, homeschooling is not a practical option, so they are left searching for an alternative to the culture’s woke educational agenda.

Finding an alternative

RenewaNation offers parents a viable option through its subsidiary called iLumenEd.

RenewaNation is a Christian organization with a singular vision of transforming culture by teaching millions of children a biblical worldview. Its mission is to equip and inspire families, churches, and schools to achieve this objective through a host of educational resources, including iLumenEd.

The Stand recently spoke with iLumenEd’s administrator, Gretchen Pike, who has been engaged in Christian education – nationally and internationally – as a teacher, principal, and administrator for 30 years. She trains  iLumenEd’s teachers and supports its partner schools, families, and students.

Pike shared that prior to 2020, RenewaNation had evaluated the potential of an online Christian education offering. It saw a growing need for a solid, biblical, affordable, online educational option, conducted in real time with engaging, qualified educators.

“When COVID hit,” said Pike, “the need became urgent. A small RenewaNation team diligently worked throughout the spring and summer of 2020 to launch iLumenEd that fall.”

As a result, the program is a live virtual school serving students in grades 6-12. The program also provides previously recorded class options for students with conflicting schedules. Fully accredited, iLumenEd offers all core courses and a variety of electives.

iLumenEd also supports existing Christian schools, new Christian school launches, and families schooling their children at home. Students can take a full course load or individual courses, depending on the need. iLumenEd also offers diploma tracks that satisfy diploma requirements for all 50 states. 

Offering a biblical worldview

But it’s not just the physical or educational needs of students that drive iLumenEd.

“We reject the sacred-secular divide that many schools promote,” said Pike. “We believe Christ is Lord over business, medicine, mathematics, history, science, etc. We work to help our students understand God’s good design for every field of study, so they can take dominion of the earth and bend creation back toward God’s original design.”

To ensure this objective, iLumenEd hires teachers who already possess a strong biblical worldview and trains them to continue developing their worldview, manage their classes, and deliver their content through that worldview.

Believing that all academic content originates from God, iLumenEd also endeavors to help students make a biblical worldview connection through carefully crafted, intentional discussions and assessments.

“For example,” Pike explained, “in literature, we help our students understand that humans are the only species who can write and speak as a result of being created in the image of God. Since God has blessed us with these unique skills, we must develop them and use them for His purposes on earth.”

With a full range of courses, including physics and calculus, iLumenEd also offers logic in both middle and high school, study skills, personal finance, and fine arts, as well as health and fitness. Intentional planning went into this extensive slate of classes, with an overall goal of preparing students to engage modern culture effectively by learning to identify truths and deceptions in current cultural arguments.

“Study skills courses allow us to prepare students to fulfill the biblical dominion mandate,” Pike said, “while personal finance, taught from a biblical perspective, teaches our high school students to steward their money wisely.

“And our fine arts courses reflect the creative nature of God, while exposing students to a wide variety of musicians and artists and allowing them to emulate their Creator by producing music and artwork.”

Building partnerships

Subsequently, iLumenEd partners with Christian schools across the U.S to support the commonly shared mission of educating children biblically, while aiding smaller churches to start schools and assisting them on a short-term or permanent basis.

“We can fill gaps when schools do not have qualified teachers available,” said Pike. “In those cases, schools may choose to take one or two courses with iLumenEd. Or if schools want to grow enrollment but do not have space or money to hire a full cadre of teachers, we can serve as the middle or high school for those schools. We also serve schools as an online education provider to reach students who are not in their geographic area.”

When asked to explain the differences between iLumenEd and other online programs, Pike shared that their live classes make them more engaging, and their instructors seek to disciple students.

“We are passionately committed to teaching students to understand God’s thoughts about every subject,” she added. “The relationship we build with our students, families, and schools is what allows us to minister to them. Because we view teaching as discipleship, we are intentional about building relationships with each student.”

Admittedly, the virtual environment can make that challenging, but by hosting live courses, meeting with students in chapel time, small groups, and one on one, iLumenEd staff members are able to foster relationships that impact students.

“We also believe that according to Deuteronomy 6,” declared Pike, “parents are ultimately responsible for the education and discipleship of their children. We see our role as one of delegated authority from parents, so we work diligently to build strong partnerships with the parents of each student.”

This partnership with parents, schools, and churches is helping iLumenEd transform culture, one student at a time.

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