“Is there anything else to offer to our children ?”
Such was the question a father asked himself, thinking about his children’s schooling; this question triggered a whole process, whose scope no one suspected.
It was 1985. On closer inspection, it seemed relatively easy to set up a private school in France: It was necessary to meet certain conditions for management, security of premises,… Instead of putting up with an education system that so often goes against our Christian values, why not get down to work and rise up to the challenge of creating a private school, since the law allows us to do so ? Why not assume our responsibilities as parents, our full responsibility ? A prayer group made up of a few parents was set up in 1985, and joined by a few teachers from different evangelical backgrounds. Although there were no premises, no money and not enough interested parents, the essential thing was there : a vision.
Determined to reach their goal, an association was created. And so the adventure began: first of all, we had to pay the price of giving up all material security for the couple who made the commitment, of giving up a comfortable situation, of taking risks… At the last moment, the town council of Sausheim, on the outskirts of Mulhouse, agreed to rent us the premises of a former school; at the last moment, teachers from all walks of life, convinced Christians, committed themselves. In September 1986, after many ups and downs and many answered prayers, the middle school Daniel came into being : 12 teachers (including 11 volunteers from the public sector willing to give extra hours), supervised… 13 pupils are divided into two classes: sixth and seventh grade.
Financially, it was foolish, given that such a school could not receive any subsidies, being so called “out of contract” ( a private school not operating under contract with the state). The school fees were far from covering the costs … This precarious situation of dependence on a God who decidedly “provided for all our needs “, was for the whole team a training in the school of the faith!
“One is enough !”
A few weeks later, we received a visit from an inspector who, amazed by the voluntary commitment of so many teachers, exclaimed,”you are blessed by all the gods!” Our reply was: “One is enough!”
Years of growth followed, with the opening of 8th and 9th grades in 1988. In 1989, an elementary class was opened, with three levels: 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. Kindergarden, 1st and 2nd grade followed in 1990. Each phase of expansion required great leaps of faith on the part of teachers, most of whom had to give up job security and accept a salary divided by three… All this in response to the heartfelt cry of a generation, so well described by the prophet Jeremiah: “My eyes are consumed with tears, my bowels boil, my bile spreads over the earth, because of the disaster of the daughter of my people, of the children and infants failing in the streets of the city. They said to their mothers: where is there wheat and wine? And they felt wounded in the streets of the city, they gave up the soul on the breast of their mothers.” (Lamentations of Jeremiah 2:10-11).
A school in which teachers would pass on not just knowledge, but their own life, their hope, their faith, the life of Jesus himself, the “Bread of Life” without which life loses its meaning, its taste, its purpose and its dynamism. So it was through faith that the number of students grew from 12 in the first year to 45 in the second, then to 65, 75, 105, 130, and finally to over 170. A local church agreed to house our elementary classes, as the premises in Sausheim were no longer sufficient. This expansion was accompanied by the arrival of new “workers”, and continued with the move to Guebwiller, as the premises in Sausheim could no longer be used: in 1992, the ROC association, manager of the College Daniel, decided to purchase the “Château”, which belonged to the “Ligue pour la Lecture de la Bible”. At the same time, the three-month “Mathurin Cordier” course was launched to provide teachers with a biblical foundation and a Christian perspective for their vocation. The course soon attracted teachers from all over the French-speaking world, helping to multiply the number of workers.
The vision of Christian education continued to spread, books were written, the history of the Reformation was rediscovered, and everyone found inspiration, strength and meaning: we were definitely not doing anything new, but we were part of a whole history of education in France that did not separate faith from knowledge. Today, there are more than fifteen Evangelical Protestant schools in France, and others in Switzerland and Belgium; despite great material difficulties, the challenge of educating a generation differently continues to be taken up. The Daniel Christian School continues to multiply by inspiring other initiatives, offering training courses and investing in the missionary field. The adventure is probably just beginning.