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“All forward!”

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Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor….
Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-11


As a much younger man, I spent fifteen years as a whitewater rafting guide in Hells Canyon guiding multiday trips through the canyon. What a great way to spend a summer! There are more than a few great rapids – including two class five! – and great fishing, beautiful vistas, and rich family time at camp talking about the day’s adventures all abound.

There are essentially two kinds of rafts: an oar boat, in which the guide alone rows and has all the responsibility for getting the boat where it needs to be; and a paddle boat, in which each rafter has his own paddle and all share responsibility to get the boat where it needs to be in the river. While many guides prefer to row an oar boat, there is no doubt that a paddle boat is infinitely more powerful, maneuverable, and can get where it needs to be faster when manned by a good crew; you are harnessing the power of six paddlers, working in unison, as opposed to just one guide, no matter how good that guide might be. The guide is essentially the helmsman responsible for steering the boat in the right direction, but all the power and drive comes from the paddlers.

Paddle rafts can be especially good during exciting moments, like inside a rapid. When the waves get big and whitewater is hitting you from all sides, a paddle raft can get to the right place much faster than an oar boat. When the guide squares the boat up, points it in a good direction, and gives an instruction – like “All forward!” – and the paddlers dig in together in unison and paddle with all their might, you can literally feel the raft surge forward. It is a beautiful thing.

I have grown to recognize that leading a school is a lot like guiding a raft: just like a raft, in order for our school to get to where it needs to be, we need everyone to pick up a paddle and together in unison dig in. GFA is right on the threshold of a really big, exciting rapid. Good things are happening in Greenleaf! GFA has doubled our enrollment in five years. Student retention is at a very high level, including 100% of last year’s 8thgraders returning next year to GFA as freshmen. Three years ago we had combined classes; heading into the 2023-24 school year we are facing five grade levels with potential waiting lists (kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 6thgrades.) To avoid turning away families, this summer we hired new teachers to split four of those grades into two sections, and thanks to the Grammar School remodel of last summer, we have the classroom space to do it! Finally, next year we have seventeen out of eighteen current teachers returning, which is a great percentage to be at.  This is an exciting time at GFA to be sure!

GFA is at an “All forward!” moment. We are headed in a great direction, but in order to get us there, GFA needs your help. We cannot do it without your continued support. Please be “All forward!” in praying that God would continue to bless GFA and be with us. Please be “All forward!” as an advocate for GFA in your community and church family. If you have relatives or donors in your sphere of influence who are looking for a great ministry to support where God is being glorified and a future generation is receiving a great education, please be “All forward!” in sending them our way. Finally, please be “All forward!” as you consider supporting GFA financially; there is no gift too small – from $5 to $5,000, every donation drives us forward.

All forward!