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North Raleigh Christian Academy

The Fulfillment of a Dream

Fifteen years ago, a group of men and women encouraged me to follow a dream.   Our great city, where I grew up, desired a non-denominational Christian school ministry that sought to be a lighthouse for Kingdom education.  Debbie and I answered that call knowing clearly that God was directing our paths.  Little did we know, or those who had encouraged us know, what God was planning to do.  It truly is a fulfillment of God’s Word that He can “do great and mighty things which we know not” (Jeremiah 33:3).  

Today, NRCA stands as a lighthouse of Kingdom education in our community and around the country.  First, NRCA has sought to enlarge its borders through Christian education. Through Christian School 101 seminars, a “How To Start A Christian School” workshop, our ministry has had the privilege of sharing the message of Kingdom education. Those efforts have resulted in the birth of twenty-four Christian schools across the southeast.  We have had the privilege of training Christian school boards regionally in the biblical philosophy of Christian education and biblical policy governance.  Our staff has assisted many schools in the accreditation process and served as chairpersons for accreditation visits.  Our students have engaged in mission trips, ranging from ministering to children of South Florida migrant workers to the children of South African villages, making our outreach effort global.  Second, NRCA has continued its vision of being a lighthouse of Kingdom education within the community.   Our student body and staff, representing 190 churches, benefit the Triangle area by their church involvements, community service, and service projects.  Through chapels, Bible class, small group Bible studies, biblical integration, mentorship, fine arts, and athletics, students are afforded the tools, skills, and encouragement to impact their community for Christ.  As our student body grows in their Christ-likeness, their continued influence cannot be underestimated.  This is Kingdom education!

Dr. S. L. Sherrill

 

 

The Past

The Death of a Vision

In 1992, Debbie, my wife, my two daughters, Joy and Jennifer, and I returned to my hometown of Raleigh with great anticipation.  A local church and Christian school was hiring me.  The pastor of the church had married Debbie and me.  The church was the location of our wedding.  Debbie was a teacher at the school when we met in 1974 while I was youth pastor of another area church.  During our first year at the new school, the Pastor began making preparations for me to transition into the position of administrator.  What an opportunity God had given me to share the vision for Kingdom education: the life-long, Bible-based, Christ-centered process of leading a child to Christ, building a child up in Christ, and equipping a child to serve Christ.  It was an opportunity to build bridges into the evangelical community and truly impact the whole body of Christ and our society for Christ.  I truly believed this school was the best-kept secret in our community.  Over the next four years, the school grew numerically, doubling in size.  The reputation of its excellence in academics resounded throughout the community.  Athletically, teams were winning conference and state championships.  The fine arts program was seeded, growing, and expanding. Growth in the Bible department’s staff and development of the student body’s biblical worldview was underway. Yet, it became apparent that the vision of Kingdom education and the desire to minister to the whole body of Christ was not to be.  Therefore, Debbie and I experienced the death of a vision when I resigned April 22, 1996.

The Rebirth of a Vision

1996

Over the next few weeks, Christian businessmen, families, and pastors of the community began to contact Debbie and me.  Two businessmen in particular caught the vision that God had given me for Kingdom education.  The vision was to be reborn.  On May 14, 1996, these two businessmen offered to pay my salary for a year if I would plan and institute the start of a Kingdom education school over the next twelve months.  Pastors and friends continued to call and encourage the need for a non-denominational Christian school that had a vision for Kingdom education and sought to minister to the whole body of Christ.  On Monday, May 20, the businessmen came back insisting that we could not wait a year, but must begin in the fall.  Pastors and families voiced the same.  Debbie and I were asked to pray about the matter.  Of course, the thought of starting a school in three months seemed impossible.  My main reservation was the procurement of a facility to house the school. One of the businessmen said that his pastor, Rev. Shannon Scott, of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, had shared his desire that their church facilities be used 24/7.  The next day, May 21, we were in Pastor Scott’s office sharing the vision of Kingdom education.  He was so excited that he invited me to attend their monthly deacons' meeting the next evening after the Wednesday night service, May 22.  I shared with these deacons the vision for reaching this community through Kingdom education.  The deacons decided to meet again Saturday, May 25.  Saturday evening, Danny Cox called to say that the church was going to announce Sunday, May 26, that they would vote Wednesday night, May 29, about hosting a Christian school.  My response was almost one of disbelief.  In just one short week, God had removed my main concern for starting a school on September 3, 1996.  However, I assured Danny that we must first have a pre-enrollment meeting and examine the perceived need for a school in the community.  A pre-enrollment meeting was planned for Sunday afternoon, June 2, at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church.  We had 221 people simply by word of mouth.  A survey indicated that over 130 students might attend a new school.  I examined the grade levels and determined if we had a kindergarten, first-second combination, third-fourth combination, fifth-sixth combination, and one grade each of 6th-12th, we could make ends meet with 150 students.  Of course, I would have to teach full-time in the high school.  After much prayer, the decision was made to start a K-12th grade Kingdom education school.  A registration meeting was planned for Monday, June 10, 1996 and the first teachers were hired. What an act of faith!  A God-Story Journey was about to occur!  The area churches and those who attended that Sunday went to work.  A debt of gratitude is owed to pastors like Shannon Scott, Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, Ron Rowe, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Mike Garrett, Crossroads Fellowship, Kevin Sweat, Providence Baptist Church, and David Horner, Providence Baptist Church.  On this registration night over 850 people attended Mt. Vernon Baptist Church.  The church auditorium was packed to capacity.  We registered 279 students and the rebirth of a vision for Kingdom education occurred in the form of North Raleigh Christian Academy.  Danny Cox led us in, “To God Be The Glory.”  By the end of the summer, 401 students entered the doors of this new Kingdom education school, North Raleigh Christian Academy.  This was the beginning of the God-Story Journey of NRCA. 

1996-2009

With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the support of many churches, and the prayers of God’s people, we opened the doors of North Raleigh Christian Academy September 3, 1996.  This was the beginning of The God-Story Journey of NRCA.  Let me share the continuation of the God-Story Journey.  I remember the early days of its infancy, the first year, praying for one hundred and fifty students but God gave us four hundred students.  I remember the first book order when all our cash had been used to buy furniture to start the school.  The book company wanted a deposit of thirty thousand dollars and the balance in ninety days.  It might as well have been thirty million dollars.  The day we sought to place the order, the first NRCA donation was given in the amount of thirty thousand dollars.  The giver was unaware of the need, but God was not.  As we entered our second year, we were over 500.  Knowing that we would be out of space the next year at Mt. Vernon, we began a search for a second location.  Open Door Baptist Church quickly came on board, but then their pastor resigned.  We began our first year at Open Door with an interim pastor and uncertainty as to the long-term use of the church.  However, the new pastor, Rev. Dwayne Milioni, embraced the school upon his arrival in 1999 as the God-Story Journey of NRCA continued.  Two years later, we were out of space at both locations with 800 students.  The decision was made to find land for a middle school/high school hub campus leaving the elementary schools at the church locations.  We began to look for land, but none was on the market.  An NRCA parent, who was a commercial realtor, overheard some developers talking about a property in North Raleigh.  It was a property that they wanted to unload due to city restrictions on the Neuse River.  Yes, it was 7300 Perry Creek where we are today.  Upon its purchase with twenty percent down, we made it known that we had our future home.  Within a week, someone made a donation that covered the cost of the land.  Two weeks later, the Triangle Mall was announced and property values soared.  This was just another sign that this is a God-Story Journey.  We designed a twenty-year master plan for the property with six phases.  The first phase was to be the high school gym with classrooms for the high school, ball fields, and parking.  Kindergarten-eighth grade would remain at the church campuses.  The Education for Eternity Campaign began and over five million dollars was committed.  The day we received the plans from the architects for Phase One of the master plan, a call came from a foundation.  The foundation desired to meet with Debbie and me about a significant donation.  At the foundation meeting February 23, 2000, we discovered that God had placed on their hearts to provide the balance that was not covered by the capital campaign so that we could build all six phases, the complete campus, as you know it today.  Due to the gift and in the interest of stewardship, the decision was made to consolidate and move all NRCA students to the Perry Creek campus.  Wonderful days were ahead.  I can remember when the Board of Governors stood by the former pond on the property, took a rock from the property as a memorial of the day, and claimed the ground for God’s glory.  November 4, 2000, we celebrated the groundbreaking of the Perry Creek campus, an incredible day of celebration with climbing walls, blow up games, horseback riding, go-karts, and games.  Over a year was spent building the new facility.  The dedication service was held August 17, 2002.  On August 19, 2002, NRCA opened its doors at the Perry Creek campus debt-free to 1100 students. This was another example of the God-Story Journey.  Over the past five years, NRCA has acquired 10 acres of adjacent land to expand the vision of Kingdom education.  A practice football field, parking, and a rear exit have been added.  

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