Skip Navigation


Courageous Christian Education

December 05, 2018
By Marie Limback

Did you know that when you order Chinese food at a restaurant in China, it doesn’t look like the dishes you get from Panda Express or J’s Peapod? 

On my recent trip to China for Illiana’s International Student Program, there were many daily challenges, not the least of which were mealtimes. This vegetarian struggled with some unidentifiable dishes, but I never went to bed hungry! 

I’ve been back from China for about 2 ½ weeks, and although I remember the challenges of meals, language, social customs, and jetlag, I’m finding that these trials don’t define my trip. Much more memorable were the opportunities to experience a culture that remains very close to its 5,000 years of history, that builds its national philosophy of yin-yang (balance) into its new architecture, and is working to figure out huge issues like free enterprise and religious freedom. 

I’m thankful to have met many Chinese Christians in a wide range of churches and schools in our travels from Beijing to Wenzhou to Shanghai, and to bring greetings from Illiana. I witnessed a vision of Christian education that takes immense courage just to discuss, even in private. This courage was seen very clearly and honestly in a tiny “hidden” Christian school that meets in an apartment in Shanghai. The school has moved its location five times in the last 2 years, attempting to remain hidden from and anonymous to government authorities. The day we visited the school, we were honored to speak at their chapel service, which is held in the living room of the apartment. Together with the students and teachers we sang “In Christ Alone” and other familiar praise songs in English, and their choir of 4 girls shared a Chinese song with us. It was so uplifting to praise our Lord with these courageous believers. 

Illiana is building partnerships with the schools and churches I visited in China, and there will be more and more opportunities for Illiana host families to open their homes to international students in the coming year. 

Marie Limback, Director of Admissions

Teacher Feature: Emily Hillegonds

October 19, 2018
By Jenna Dutton

Name: Emily Hillegonds
Teaching Department: English
College Attended: Calvin College/ University of Illinois Chicago
Church you attend: Bethel CRC
Interesting Fact: "I am going to live in Germany with my husband for a month this summer"
If you could eat only 3 foods for the rest of your life, what would they be: Mac &Cheese, Mackinaw Island Fudge Cake from Arnies Bakery, and Tacos 
Cake or Pie: Cake
What's the best piece of advice you've received: "It's not what's on the outside, but what's on the inside that matters."- Mandy Van Stee, 1994

Who wants to have a Taco?

October 19, 2018
By Lance Davids

Happy Friday!

It is hard to believe that we are at the end of the first quarter already! The first couple of months of school have gone by so quickly. We are settling into our new facility and enjoying all the great opportunities it gives us to teach and pour into these kids. (The new hot chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate sauce in Common Grounds has helped us ease into fall!)

There are two fall events here at Illiana that we would like to highlight. The first is the fall play, Peter Pan and Star Catcher. Our drama department does an amazing job. Between the acting, lighting, sets and painting, and technology, you will see the varied talents of all of our students on display. This production involves over 100 of our students and it is a great program for building community for so many of our students. The play will be Thursday-Sunday, November 1-3. Performances are 7:00 pm each evening and 2:00 pm on Saturday afternoon. Tickets are on sale in the school office for $10 each.

The second event is the Second Annual Praise Crowd Taco Dinner. This dinner has become the single fundraiser to raise money for Praise Crowd program. The money raised will be used for the eight Praise Crowd breakfasts, the seven Praise Crowd worship services, journaling Bibles for each of our seniors and other needs like musical instruments and sound equipment. Last week, we had over 300 students gather for our first Praise Crowd breakfast of the year as our students learned about our theme for the year, All In. We heard about how Jesus Christ was “All In” and our response to Jesus’ amazing love for us should be “All In”. Each Praise Crowd worship service brings around 200 students together to worship and learn on Friday nights after basketball games or other events. We are excited about our first Praise Crowd of the year on November 9, after the Dodgeball tournament.

Please join us for the Praise Crowd Taco Dinner in two weeks on Saturday, November 3, between the matinee and the evening performances of the play. The taco buffet will be served from 4:00-7:00 pm in the Commons. The Praise Crowd Committee will be serving beef, chicken, chips, salsa, guacamole, all kinds of toppings, drinks, and our famous brownies and ice cream for dessert. It is basically Chipotle with a Praise Crowd twist. A freewill donation will be accepted at the door. Our budget for the Praise Crowd program this year is $13,000 and we hope to raise that entire budget through this event. We exceeded our goal last year and would love to do that again.

Have a great weekend and we hope to see you for the play and tacos in 2 weeks! 

 P.S. If you need a little reminder of what Praise Crowd is all about, here is a link to a video we made about it last year: Praise Crowd video

- Lance Davids, Director of Advancement, Vision, and Spiritual Development

Go Illiana!

October 11, 2018
By Lance Davids

Happy Thursday!

I wanted to share with all of you a fun story I heard a few weeks ago. This story and picture were given to me by Illiana alum and current parent Steve Hoeksema. In 1980, Timothy Christian put on a large addition and George Hoeksema, an Illiana supporter and Steve’s dad, had the contract to paint the new addition. As he painted the walls, he added a little Illiana spirit above the drop ceilings where no one would see it. Fast forward to this year, Steve’s uncle, Tim Hoeksema, is now the principal of Timothy. Timothy just started a whole school remodel project and discovered the Illiana graffiti above the ceiling tiles. When this was discussed at a board meeting, Tim connected the dots. George did about 13 of these above the lockers. So for nearly 40 years, there has been a little Illiana love literally hanging the heads of our rivals at Timothy. Go Illiana!

This story demonstrates the passion with which this community supports what we do at Illiana. It is more than just a place we go to school. We are coming up on the two-year anniversary of our Groundbreaking Ceremony at the new campus. We have come so far in these two years from a bean field ready to be harvested to a school building full of students eager to learn and grow. For all that this community has done, I say “Go Illiana!” However, let’s not forget that we have more to do. We have hearts to grow and minds to build. I ask for your prayers. Please lift this place and the students and staff up in prayer. Pray that Jesus Christ will transform the hearts and minds of these kids. So I want to say “Go Illiana” in another context. Go and pray Illiana. We covet your prayers. There is a Moms in Touch prayer group that meets at Illiana on Monday mornings a couple times a month. However, in addition to that, I am looking to start a prayer ministry here at Illiana. I would love to gather adults and kids to boldly pray together as an Illiana community for the people and needs of our community. I have ideas of what this could look like, but if anyone would like to help me shape this vision of this ministry, please contact me at I want this new building to be a house of prayer. So go pray Illiana! 

- Lance Davids, Director of Advancement, Vision, and Spiritual Development


Recent Posts

12/5/18 - By Marie Limback
10/19/18 - By Jenna Dutton
10/19/18 - By Lance Davids
10/11/18 - By Lance Davids
9/27/18 - By Cassie Siersema