Lael is a Hebrew name found in Numbers 3:24, and it means “belonging to God.” It has the connotation of being a Levite—being separate from the rest for God’s use.
The school was so named to be a constant reminder that it belongs to God, for His purpose; because God made it clear that the school is His idea.
Lael Christian Academy stands on three main Pillars of emphasis:
Chrispin and Sharon Chifwepa, members of the Tyler Seventh-day Adventist Church. They have two children: son Luyando, and daughter Mary. By profession, Chrispin and Sharon are Accountant and Nurse, respectively. At the time, Luyando had just graduated form high school on May 18th, 2020 headed to college with an eye on being a pastor, while Mary was going into her 10th grade.
Sharon got the impression to start a school as we were driving to see a cancer-survivor friend of ours on June 20th, 2020, a day after Chrispin lost his accounting manager job. You can imagine, and sure will understand, that this was not an ideal time to think of such an undertaking considering the family state of mind and also the soon to have been financial reality. See below for more.
The Chifwepas didn't tell their children what had been placed on their minds for which they were seeking answers. They had hinted to their children that something had been placed on their minds by God and that they needed confirmation before embarking on it. They asked their children to pray that God would reveal what that idea was, in the same way Daniel and the wise men were challenged by King Nebuchadnezzar to reveal the dream and its interpretation. Read on.
For seven days before the idea of the school was consolidated as a God given assignment, the Chifwepas went through agonizing and praying considering the huge undertaking involved in starting and managing a school. The founders went into prayer mode to seek God's guidance from His Word. They had already learned from past family worship sessions that God always answered through His Word. Several questions needed answers; Was it God talking to them? what would the name of the school be? where would the funds come from? when would the school open, 2020 or 2021? who would be working there?, and much more.
Below is an account of how God responded and gave guidance:
Sharon prayed and studied the Word of God before going to work, and for seven days, these are the lessons she received:
Help me not to worry about the time frame, that’s for God to take care of, plus He knows all things. I must implicitly submit to His divine omniscient wisdom; for it is better for me to receive a revelation of His will than to run ahead of Him. Moreover, God is never late, He is always on time. Even when it seems late, I must remember that He has power to control all things. He always has ways to make circumstances bow to His own timetable to suite His will.
Also, I must be careful not to diligently seek an answer to my request, but to seek Him (Hebrews 11:6), having a deeper relationship with Him, the assurance of His approval, presence and attendance. God desires to do exceedingly abundantly more than we ask or think. To limit God to our specific needs does us and Him tremendous disservice.
This scripture was impressed on my mind as I prayed this morning. Exodus 33:17 (So the Lord said to Moses, "I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name."). Then I did some more reading in book by EGW, Patriarchs and Prophets Chapter 28. Pgs 327.3-329.3. Here's a section:
And the Lord said, “I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee by name.” Still the prophet did not cease pleading. Every prayer had been answered, but he thirsted for greater tokens of God's favor. He now made a request that no human being had ever made before: “I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory.” God did not rebuke his request as presumptuous; but the gracious words were spoken, “I will make all My goodness pass before thee.” The unveiled glory of God, no man in this mortal state can look upon and live; but Moses was assured that he should behold as much of the divine glory as he could endure. PP 328.2-PP 328.3 )
What an assurance! The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen. Having Him, His presence is itself the exceeding abundant answer to all that we ask or think. Amen! "He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
Today, I received this understanding/clarification/confirmation. Yes, the school is God’s idea. It was His idea to start with. I simply came to know of it through the fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 2:11-12. The Holy Spirit put the thought in my mind to make known to me what was on God’s mind—the will of God concerning this particular project. It is a spiritual invitation to be part of His project. (We tend to think the other way round; that it is our idea, therefore, when we pray, we essentially invite God to bless it). And so as I am praying about the idea, seeking clarification and confirmation and understanding, prayer is working to bring me more and more into alignment with God’s will; to fit me to be an effective conduit through whom God can fulfill His will with regard to this particular idea. It was by spending time in prayer that I gained a clearer understanding of the spiritual science of being a co-laborer together with God. Knowing and always remembering that it is God’s idea that gave me a perspective that I must continue to acknowledge His ownership of the idea and plans and everything concerning the project, and that He should take responsibility for its successful completion. The conclusion of the matter is that I must never at any point hijack the reigns. Never must I step in front of the cloudy pillar to take the lead. Rather, I must acknowledge Him all the way and allow Him to take the lead in the implementation of His own will. Proverbs 3:3-5.
I also learned that the Bible is indeed the standard God uses to clarify and confirm His will in answer to our prayers, as He did today through 1 Corinthians 2:11-12. I had asked God for a particular sign to confirm that the idea in my mind was from Him. But, no matter how precisely the sign would come true, it would still not be enough without the confirmation that it is anchored in the Word of God—for the Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Word. I am, therefore, deeply grateful for the grace given me in that God confirmed that this is His idea using His Word before fulfilling the “sign.” I am thankful for this important lesson establishing my confidence in the Word of God. I am assured that God who is in control of all things is also the author of His Word. Therefore, He will never let us confront situations for which He has not already provided guidance in His Word. Powerful!
A practical, experiential lesson:
Our feelings change like shadows for they are so subject to the surrounding circumstances, even the intensity of the impact of yesterday’s spiritual impressions can so quickly fade-away. Our strong convictions and our spiritual high of yesterday may be completely lost today. His Word is still as true today, in our spiritual low, as when we first received it with inexpressible joy in yesterday’s spiritual high; its force is still the same despite our current state of mind. The Word of God is constant and true forever, therefore, it is very reliable. How less impressionable we feel today does not change what God told us yesterday. And we are still obliged to live by, and act on that Word based on its enduring truthfulness and the blessed correctness of its divine guidance. Trusting and relying on the word of God must, therefore, be completely separated from, and never to be dependent, on our feelings, rather, be dependent on the principle of implicit faith in God’s Word. Indeed, I am learning the value of the Word of God to be my guide in my spiritual life. I am grateful for God’s grace and wisdom in directing me to His Word. I, now more than ever, appreciate the clarification and assurance given using specific scriptures. He answered my prayer exceedingly abundantly more than I could ask or think.
While there is no limit to what God can do, there is a limit to what He will do. For God works through us to the extent to which we exercise faith in Him. This is critical to understand. Jesus would often say, “According to your faith, be it unto you.” Matthew 9:29. This means the extent to which God’s people exercise their faith in Him is demonstrated by the extent of the works God is “able” to do among and through them, according to their faith. Take for instance the woman with the miracle of oil. The extent to which she exercised faith in the Word of God that came through the prophet is demonstrated by the number of vessels she brought to be filled. While there was no limit to the amount of oil God could provide, He filled only to the extent of the last available vessel and the oil ceased. 2 Kings 4:1-7. The Bible tells us that Jesus did not do many mighty works in His own country because of the people’s unbelief. Matthew 13:58. I imagine clusters of communities within a 40-50 mile radius covering the area Jesus did His ministry. Inevitably Jesus’ manifestation of divine power varied from community to community depending on the extent to which the people exercised faith in Him. Jesus worked more in Capernaum because the people there believed in Him. So the question is, to what extent will we allow God to work among and through us?
I also learned that while God does not need us to accomplish His work, He can use stones, Angels, animals, or He can speak from heaven and His will, will be instantly done. But God uses us because we need Him. Working with God affords us the highest privilege of coming into close communion and getting acquainted with the Almighty. This close contact is absolutely critical for the perfection of our characters so that we can be fit to be ushered into His immediate presence without being consumed by His glory. It is as we come into close communion now, while working together with God, that we see ourselves for who we really are, in the true light of His presence. It is here where we get a true conception that we fall short of His glory. And it is this consciousness that gives birth—through the Agency of the Holy Spirit—to that inner desire to be transformed into His likeness. Isaiah 6:1-8.
Today I learned another crucial principle needed to exercise faith in God. I am reminded that as humans we tend to put our hope and trust in human organizations because our minds are trained to view things that way. If God presented us with two options: either to work for an established company or to work in His organization which He intends to establish, we are more likely to choose to work for an established company. However, the truth is that an organization which is currently only in the mind of God, but not yet physically existent in our world, is far more real than man’s already physically existent one that is seemingly flourishing where God is absent. Therefore, between the two choices, it is far better and safer to put our hope and trust in God’s organization that is still just an idea of His and not physically present, than in man’s existent one.
I also learned that it is absolutely impossible for an organization that is yet just an idea in God’s mind to fail because for all intents and purposes, it already exists anyway (as verily as the person next to me/you), we just don’t see it yet. I am reminded that at one point in the span of eternity, I myself were only an idea in the mind of God. But at God’s appointed time, I came forth into the world, and here I am today. While I have only lived a few years on earth from our human perspective, as far as God is concerned, I have been in existence in such a real way from the moment the idea about me came into His mind. And so, to imagine that God’s idea may not work is as good as doubting whether or not it is possible for the tangible thing I am holding in my hands right now to come into existence, when it already is. It is indeed foolishness to doubt the existence of existent things—I mean the things that at this time we can see only by faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen. Noah’s ark was already in existence in the the mind of God, in its finished form. God could even tell Noah its exact measurements and all the detailed dimensions. How could He, if the ark didn’t already exist in His mind, prescribe to Moses the dimensions? And so when God shared His idea of the ark with Noah, Noah by faith saw the ark in its virtual format as it was in the mind of God. It took 120 years to put it into its complete physical form, and to finally enter into that ark which was only a divine idea many years before.
This is from my reading this morning...Nehemiah....
This example of wise forethought and resolute action should be a lesson to all Christians. God's children are not only to pray in faith, but to work with diligent and provident care. They encounter many difficulties that often hinder the working of Providence in their behalf because they regard prudence and painstaking effort as having little to do with religion. Nehemiah did not regard his duty done when he wept and prayed before the Lord. He united his petitions with holy endeavor, putting forth earnest, prayerful efforts for the success of the enterprise in which he was engaged. Careful consideration and well-matured plans are as essential to the carrying forward of sacred enterprises today as in the time of the rebuilding of Jerusalem's walls.
"Nehemiah did not depend upon uncertainty. The means that he lacked he solicited from those who were able to bestow. And the Lord is still willing to move upon the hearts of those in possession of His goods, in behalf of the cause of truth. Those who labor for Him are to avail themselves of the help that He prompts men to give. These gifts may open ways by which the light of truth shall go to many benighted lands. The donors may have no faith in Christ, no acquaintance with His word; but their gifts are not on this account to be refused"--EGW, Prophets and Kings 633.3 - 634.1
The following day after losing my job, my wife talked about starting a school. Though I contributed in the discussion, I didn't catch the substance of the vision, nor its practicality. In fact the state of my mind was unstable. In addition, as an accountant, I was seeing things from a financial as well as humanly probable and practical side. I needed to see the cashflow possibility and worse still, I couldn't see where the students would come from because July was too late to even recruit. Many parents had already enrolled their children since schools were opening by second week of August. We didn't even know where the school would be located, or which academic year to open the school. Somehow, deep in my mind, I was a little safer entertaining the possibility of academic year 2021/2022 considering what was required to be in place before opening the school.
As a family, we had agreed that we would pray every morning and evening. Our children and I had the morning service and my wife joined us for the evening worship services; we sang and read from our daily devotional book and also talked about what the Lord had revealed to us. It was during the evening worship sessions that Sharon shared her daily lessons. As days went on, my mind ventured into every direction from frustration to doubt to fear and having a feeling that God was not hearing anything I was saying or meditating on. I did everything humanly possible to overcome these trials using my Bible knowledge, but this was not what I needed. I wanted God to speak to me and to assure me He cared about my situation. Then on July 10th, 2020, I was reading our daily devotion early in the morning before our morning worship and this is what I came across amidst my despair.
I have endured your sorrows, experienced your struggles, encountered your temptations. I know your tears; I also have wept. The griefs that lie too deep to be breathed into any human ear, I know. Think not that you are desolate and forsaken. Though your pain touches no responsive chord in any heart on earth, look unto Me, and live. “The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee” (Isaiah 54:10). – EGW, Lift Him Up pg 205.2
Because we are the gift of His Father, and the reward of His work, Jesus loves us. He loves us as His children. Reader, He loves you. Heaven itself can bestow nothing greater, nothing better. Therefore trust. – EGW, Lift Him Up pg 205.4
After reading the above, I didn't know what to think or do, except to confess my unbelief. I felt a sense of peace and calmness I had never had in so long. I not only new God was with me, I sensed He was near, even physically with me. His presence was tangible and I must say I felt surrounded by His encompassing and endearing presence. God is so real! I surrendered to Him and knew that everything was under His care and that I didn't need to fear. I was freed and I therefore, knew that my job loss was by providence and that the school was what He wanted us to work on. I started to research on the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum and made all the contacts needed to establish the school and even set up the training dates as I consulted with my family.
The school was registered under the Texas Secretary of State on July 31st, 2020.
Since we had challenged our children to seek God's guidance on the school idea, they took it with excitement at first, but as days went on, they felt nothing was coming forth. On the other hand, since God had revealed to us by His Word and prayer that the school project was His idea, we thought it wise to let our children know. Mary was however, hesitant; she believed God would reveal this idea if given a little more time. We gave them a few more days of prayer.
However, as time went by, we told them what the idea was. This is how they responded:
Luyando: "Honestly, I think it was in my dream or something, I saw 30 desks and tables. I don't think this makes sense."
We however, after thinking through it all, realized that was the target number of students God envisioned be enrolled at Lael. We then incorporated this number into our strategic goal and Lael students to date, pray for 30 students we believe are out there, but need to be at Lael.
Mary: "I saw daddy playing with a bunch of kids. Maybe daddy will be working at the school."
Again, this was confirmation to the family; God revealed that Chrispin had to be working at Lael. And since Lael's inception, Chrispin has been volunteering his time doing administrative work, accounting, teaching, and yes, even playing volleyball, soccer and more, with Lael students.