“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.– Colossians 3:23-24 (NKJV)
Grace Bible Academy didn’t come about overnight. The idea for GBA was conceived after much prayer over several years. Since 2006, our director, Brandon Pence, knew that his desire was to serve children and families and did that as an afterschool director at the former Fannie Bush Elementary for five years, in various roles at the Child Care Council of Kentucky for eight years working with child care workers, parents, and those receiving child care assistance. Mr. Brandon’s wife, Tanya Pence, is the director of Clark County Christian Preschool and Daycare located on First Church of God’s campus in Winchester, Kentucky. Their desire is truly to serve the children of Clark County.
In 2012, Mr. Brandon began praying about a work he could do to serve children in Clark County. They looked at several buildings and began moving toward opening a preschool, but didn’t feel the Lord wanted them to continue in that direction. In March of 2017, that desire was becoming stronger and stronger, but he still didn’t feel like a preschool was the answer. In May of 2017, the Lord revealed to Mr. Brandon to start what is now Grace Bible Academy. That same month, the board of Grace Bible Church gave approval to begin the process of starting our programs, beginning with a summer program in June of 2018.
The plan for Grace Bible Academy was simple: To create a learning environment that centered around the truth of Jesus Christ and built children up spiritually and academically. Mentoring Mr. Brandon is Grace Bible Church’s pastor Lee Cruse, who served as an educator and principal in the public school system for over 30 years including principal of the former Fannie Bush Elementary.
“We did not want to just slap the label ‘Christian’ on this school and make it like a glorified VBS,” said Mr. Brandon. “We wanted the children that attended this school to receive an education that was better than what they would receive in the public school system, but also an education that centered on the truth of God’s Word. We also wanted to try to do things differently. We wanted this school to have a unique atmosphere when families walked through the door.”
To instill this vision, we needed the right people in place to make that happen. As we began searching for the staff that would serve in this ministry, Mr. Brandon knew that he wanted teachers that loved the Lord and had a passion for children. The Lord blessed us with Ms. Stephanie Stigall, who was originally our lead afterschool teacher and now serves as our kindergarten/first grade teacher. Ms. Stephanie personifies those qualities and has been a blessing to the children and families we serve. Also, the Lord blessed us with Mrs. Rachel McKendree, who was originally our kindergarten teacher until her husband’s job moved unexpectedly and had to leave us. Her energy and creativity coupled with her love for the children in her class helped create that unique classroom environment we were striving for.
But the work hasn’t stopped there. Grace Bible Academy is now entering its second year of operation and we are still growing. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” We’ve tried to plant the seed and tried to water it, but we trust and believe that God will continue allowing this school to grow. Your continued prayers are appreciated!