This week I had a family ask me about our International population. The question was centered in an observation that Hillcrest has a diverse student body. I was very excited to address this question, because I believe Hillcrest's diversity unifies the students, and is part of God's redeeming work from the Tower of Babel to Pentecost.
This year Hillcrest celebrates a twenty-five year partnership with the Danielsen school in Bergen, Norway. The program began as administrators from the Danielsen school toured the United States looking for a Biblically-based American school that would support their values. Since that time, Hillcrest has educated nearly 750 Norwegian students in a concentrated program to know Christ and make him known. Travel to Bergen and you will see former Hillcrest students leading men's ministries, pastoring churches, starting mission outreaches, boarding airplanes for foreign countries and even spreading a Biblically-based view of the world in Norway's social medicine program. God has enabled our international program to change lives in Norway. We are a training ground where students grow bold in their conviction to share the truth of Jesus Christ, and we are humbled to see the fruit.
Approximately ten years ago a large number of Korean students descended on Hillcrest's campus. Finding Hillcrest through an online search, a group of pastors visited Hillcrest and sent their children through our Biblically-based program. Since that time, almost 60 students from South Korea have received training at Hillcrest. One ministry that has benefitted from many Hillcrest alumni is in Minneapolis. A cohort of Korean Pastors are working in the University of Minnesota to support their country's Christian students. A group of Hillcrest alumni lead bible study and worship times, traveling for a one week discipleship time in the spring every year to the ARC Bible camp in Osceola, Wisconsin. The past four years, nearly all of the members on the leadership of this campus ministry are Hillcrest alumni. Trained in a Biblically-based environment for a life of significance, our Korean students are used to build-up and support their countrymen attending the University of Minnesota. Providing apologetic answers many received through our Bible program, Hillcrest's Korean alumni are discipling students in the university setting. Hillcrest has been used to support the mission effort of the Korean church, and churches in Korea are taking note as we receive more applications every year despite never focusing a marketing campaign for international students.
Two years ago Hillcrest accepted five students from China. One of these students shared his testimony in our last Chapel of the year today. After the student shared his testimony, our Board of Directors Chairman Todd Mathison turned to Principal Isaac and said, "That was worth the three hour drive". This student came to Christ last year and has been mentoring his friends to understand the reality of Jesus. We can't travel to China, but God seems to bring the nations to Hillcrest Academy as we prepare students for college, training them to understand what a life of significance looks like.
Hillcrest has never taken an active step in recruiting overseas. Our travels to Norway are to support the program the Danielsen school believes is a benefit for the education of their students. Many boarding schools in the United States assign international recruitment to an officier of the school, sending that person on tours of Asia, Europe, Africa and elsewhere, to recruit students from foreign countries. Hillcrest's international population comes to us by the providence of God as we communicate the reality of what He does on our campus. Students, even students who do not have a churched or Christian background, want to come to our school. We can't explain it, but it is a work of God in the lives of our students that leaves us in awe.
We place limits on the number of students we allow from specific cultures. We limit the Norwegian program to thirty students, Korean program to 10% of our total student population, and the Chinese program to twelve students. We do this to minister to the students from these specific cultures. We have found that identifying students based on their cultural background, even students from the East and West coasts, enables us to communicate the Bible more clearly to them; recognizing how their culture has shaped their thinking. It is important for our parents and supporters to recognize this as we continue to fulfill our mission of training students in a Christ-centered, Bible-based environment, for a life of significance.
I believe many times we view other cultures in light of the Biblical narrative of the Tower of Babel rather than Pentecost; the time in the church calendar where we recognize the moment the Holy Spirit descends on the disciples following the transfiguration of Christ. In Pentecost, Peter and the other disciples traveled through the streets of Jerusalem, speaking languages and ministering to cultures they had no background in. The Holy Spirit worked through the mission of the church to bring the saving message of Christ to the far reaches of the world. The Gospel knows no race, no culture and no national border. It is for all. And at Hillcrest we are thrilled that God has given us the opportunity to redeem the idea of culture, spending time with students who literally travel from around the world to our small school in Minnesota. The multi-cultural experience at Hillcrest is something God has brought, and we closely steward, to ensure our students grow in their knowledge and understanding of Christ; the One whose life, death and resurrection makes our life significant.