Posted by: Friends | 05 October 2009
Our Founder and Visionary - Phil Williamson
Phil was very aware of the holiness of God’s Spirit. He only claimed to be at best an “unprofitable servant”. The integrity of any spiritual work, he believed, could be compromised by not drawing honour rightfully to God. The school was conceived, laboured for and birthed in this manner.
We don’t want to undermine this by making Phil into a hero…he would say “Oh, please no, I beg!”
He protected other souls and their calling in the same way. Warm in appreciation of gifting, he avoided feeding pride. He boasted of his “fantastic staff” rather than elevate individuals.
God impressed on Phil His own grief for young people in the UK. A growing passion led him into battle to secure the next generation for Christ. Phil had little idea of all that he was getting into. A simple step of obedience; set up a Christian ethos school: maybe for two years, he thought!
However, Phil found himself caught up in a national move of God as others were also challenged to set up schools in over 40 locations. He became a respected figure within the Christian Schools Trust (CST). Learning how to think biblically about education; and restoring a lost legacy to the Church was to be a work of nearly 30 years. In spiritual combat over years, Phil gave birth to a Christ-centred school.
His mission was first to disciple children already entrusted to Christian families. This was initially to assist their entrance into God’s kingdom. An emerging vision though was a young church equipped to:
- discern the gods of the age
- testify to the gospel of the kingdom
- lead reform in all aspects of society
- transform culture.
He believed that although awaiting perfection, there was continuity with how we govern and steward the Earth now and the life in the new heaven and Earth. He was on the brink of getting involved with issues of farming and the food industry. Phil went to heaven with his boots on!
The battle for freedom to bring children up in and into Christ led him to the highest courts, standing for religious liberty and the God-given mandate.
On the ground, young people experienced this fervour as tenderness and protectiveness, reflecting the Father heart of God. A girl with an obvious vulnerability came distressed back into school “please sir” youths were pelting her with stones as she was on her way home. Phil dashed out immediately - she might as well have said “Dad”
Phil was excited by the extent of Christ’s redemption. He delighted in the teachings of elders in the field; grateful for the honing of his theology. He was tenacious in enquiring after God’s wisdom for kingdom concepts of work and calling, servanthood and stewardship. Our training day bible studies were infused with “well isn’t that interesting?...” These were times of challenge to preconceived ideas. We’d get so animated, he’d say “Right I’m bringing down the guillotine, now!” in order to cut the discussions. He’d chuckle and say , “oh you terrible lot!” It was easy to love Phil.
He had seen broken relationships cause wreckage on the mission field. He fiercely guarded this aspect of our life together. Our close community is testimony to this.
Phil delighted hearing lower school spontaneously singing their way back from assembly, playing cricket, being teased by upper school lads about his football fouls, wowing science students with his frozen daffodil , laughingly lifting a flagging sack racer over the finishing line. A fond retort... “You rascals!” met harmless mischievousness with a sense of fun. As a father, he restored any tearful, repentant hearts with almost prophetic words of encouragement. God’s word came alive as he spoke.
Above all, Phil had a reverent affection for His Lord. In an exposed pioneering Headship, he demonstrated how to stay yoked to the one who loved him as a son and took ultimate responsibility.
We appreciate too that his wife Barbara, Daughter Helen and Son Andrew released him to the work.
Phil would never retire from God’s calling. Latterly, asked if he needed relief from responsibility, he responded with “The school will always be inside me” said in the tone of “Can a mother forget her child?” He remained in active service.
How significant were his prayers during his suffering in claiming the ground for our next stage and leadership, God will judge.
Much of God’s will for this school glimpsed and anchored by Phil is still to be worked out. However, the first-fruits are the lives of past pupils. Phil’s main desire is for the work to carry on.
Who from the next generation will step up to the plate and build on the spiritual legacy, intercede boldly and labour with tireless determination?
Phil trusted God with his life and to the last would say “I will exalt you, O Lord, because you have raised me up and have not let my foes triumph over me” (Psalm 30).
We could say much more but the only commendation that Phil ever desired was from the Lord Jesus, “Well done my good and faithful servant”. Nothing we can say encapsulates our great love and profound sense of loss.