Hebrews 11 lists a number of biblical characters who were commended for their faith. And in Hebrews 12, the author reveals that the purpose for publishing these short narratives was for our encouragement: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…”
Likewise, the Eastern Christian community is comprised of countless individuals past and present who have walked by faith, upheld by the promises of God. And so this spring over social media, Eastern Christian School asked our community to tell us about these individuals: the specific people in our midst who inspire others, encourage others, and support others along their journey. Following in this blog series are the results, and the stories of just a few of the people in our great cloud of witnesses.
“Donna Furrey teaches a class of 25 2nd graders with a willing and positive attitude. She designs creative challenges to motivate her students, which often includes special events and competitions. Donna communicates with parents in such a way that shows she truly values the part they play in their children’s education. Donna’s commitment to Christian education will have a lasting impact on all her students.” – Nominating Quote
Decades ago, a science teacher at Eastern Christian Middle School named Hedwig Lucas was doing more than teaching science. As Dr. Donna Furrey recalls, she was also “sowing into my life in an incredible way. I don’t know what I would have done without her.”
It was this early, transformative relationship with a teacher that set Furrey on her own path toward education. “My passion is teaching. My passion is to make a difference in a kid’s life,” she says. “I want to see our children know and love God in a really neat way. Kids are going to remember the teacher who encouraged them, challenged them, loved them…and that’s what Christian education is all about.”
In addition to her early ties at Eastern Christian, Furrey grew up in a Christian home and was challenged by her pastor as a young person to try one year at a Bible college. One year turned to more, and she graduated from Northeastern Bible College with a degree in Bible and elementary education. She earned two master’s degrees at William Paterson College and a doctoral degree from Nova Southeastern University, and has been involved in Christian Education for the entirety of her adult life.
However, Furrey has only been employed with Eastern Christian for two years as an elementary school teacher. She served as teacher and principal of Ringwood Christian until the school closed, a tenure that lasted 42 years. “When it closed, Sandy [Bottge] asked me to come and cover a maternity leave for third grade. I did it as a favor…and I just fell in love with them and just loved being at EC. So when I finished, she offered me the job, and I just jumped in.”
Whether at Ringwood Christian or Eastern Christian, Furrey is a champion of Christian education. “Only Christian school teaches the truth—God’s truth. It is a battle, and Satan never gives in easily. We need to protect the hearts, minds and lives of our young people, and you couldn’t invest better.”
Furrey says that in her 44 years of service in Christian education, her job has never really felt like a job.
“The whole trip has been watching God do incredible things. It’s a really exciting, neat adventure to walk with the Lord through the whole thing.” She adds, “The work is not done when they leave you. You are still making an impact long after they leave your classroom. They begin to apply what you’ve taught in their own lives. When you go to a church and sit in the pew, and you hear the preacher, who used to be your student, preach—or when you see a father find the Lord at a school musical, families change, families come to the Lord—that’s it. You can’t get paid for that.”
Enjoying this blog series? Read more stories in the fall edition of The Herald, publishing late August 2022.
Would you like to celebrate another member of the EC community for being an inspiration? Send your nominations to Herald@easternchristian.org and we may feature your nominating quotes in our final Cloud of Witnesses blog. EC reserves the right to edit/omit submissions.