FBCA’s Miranda Vinson: Obeying orders to enlarge the tent

Published 1:01 pm Monday, October 16, 2023

First Baptist Christian Academy (FBCA) started as a Mother’s Day Out program over 40 years ago. About three years ago, Miranda Vinson became principal of what is now a K-8 school.

The 35-year-old mother and FBCA teacher thought she was too young. She didn’t feel qualified, maybe one day, but not now.  Nevertheless, she felt called.

“They hired me, and I felt a certain peace knowing ‘this’ is my obedience to the Lord,” she said.

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Vinson said her passion goes beyond education, and in her new role she could be even more intentional, leading students to Christ, discipling them and raising up Godly leaders with a Biblical worldview.

Her administrative duties were gratifying, spiritually fulfilling. She was leading children to Christ. Yet, she felt a stirring, and heard the Lord  tell her to “Enlarge the tent because an increase was coming”

“She had been reading the book of Isaiah, and it wasn’t the first time God had used that phrase (from chapter 54)  to prepare her for the next season of her life. Yet, she didn’t understand.

“I just wanted to grow the school and be a good steward with what the Lord had given us,” she said.

FBCA has been described by those to whom it is no longer a secret as the area’s best kept secret. Enrollment was at 50 percent capacity for the K-8 school.

The Church’s Mother’s Day Out Program had gradually added classes one at a time, and adding a high school was always a goal. However, the  location is landlocked. No land was available nearby and it was important for the schools to be on the same campus as the church.

Vinson continued to read the book of  Isaiah, when verse 42:16 jumped out at her. “I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known, I will make my darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, and not forsake them (NJKV).

She told the Board what was on her heart, and for six weeks they fasted and prayed.

In January 2020, she received a call from the executive pastor of the church. He had lunch with a church member who was going to develop land across the street for a new subdivision. Instead, he decided to sell it. The pastor asked him if he would give the church first right of refusal, and he said he would.

No one but the board knew what was on Vinson’s heart.

“All we had committed to at that point was simply being obedient,” Vinson said. In her mind, she thought, “OK Lord, you’re really doing this.”

A banker had all but called the deal done when the pandemic disrupted life.  The school is funded by tuition. Teachers began to work from home, and parents began to call Vinson to ask what would happen if they couldn’t pay their tuition. IF they couldn’t pay their tuition, she couldn’t pay her teachers.

She went back to Isaiah 42:16 and prayed, “I am the blind person here, and I trust you’re going to lead me.”

It made sense to her, in the moment, to stop the loan application and land purchase during such uncertain times. That was in the moment. In the throes of spending time with God, and reading his word, she told God that she knew He had provided that land, a miracle, and she felt like he was responded, “Who are you to stop what I started?”

The last thing she wanted to do was tell the board, Godly older men and women she knew to be very wise. She struggled with whether that was what God really wanted. She asked forgiveness for her unbelief. And she asked God for a neon sign in answer to her prayer.

It came in the guise of a visit from a student’s grandmother. She expressed to Vinson how much she appreciated the school to tell her that God woke her up that morning to tell her to give Vinson a check for $20,000 to “sow a seed into the future of the school.”

Vinson had her sign.

When enrollment jumped from 280 students to 400 after the pandemic and the hurricanes, God’s instruction to “increase the space of the  tent to prepare for increase” made perfect sense.  Groundwork has been completed on the property across the street from the church that never went on the market, and soon the middle school students will be moved to a modular building that arrives next month.

“The Lord is working and moving,” Vinson said. “Not only with these little ones, but among parents too. In the last two years – counting the $1 donation from a student and the $20,000 from the grandmother that wanted to “plant a seed,” $1.2 million has been raised.

“No, that we are a perfect place. We make mistakes but we have a heart for discipleship. We are concerned not only with the earthly, but more importantly, with the eternal, and I’m so glad God lets us be a part of that. Thank you for allowing me to share the testimony of what God is doing here. It is my hope and prayer that He is glorified through this.