This is the first issue of our NEWSLETTER. Although it has been under difficult circumstances, it is sent out over a limited area with much happiness and anticipation. Many friends are already aware of plans which have quickly grown into realities, and blessings that have been multiplied through the kindness and generosity of people who are aware of the needs of children.
Less than three months ago Mrs. Kernen and I were praying for wisdom and the leading of the Spirit in finding a way to help start another work among the children of this great area in the south. Others, some of them unknown to us, were doing the same.
Mr. and Mrs. Howard Dillon of the Cookson Hills Christian Mission, located in the Cookson Hills of Oklahoma, owns a 1,000-acre farm. This is about 18 miles southwest of Siloam Springs, Arkansas, on Oklahoma state highway No. 10. They have given our new work over 400 acres of land, all of their buildings, including an almost new house with four bedrooms, barn and outbuildings, several good springs, the use of their machinery and sawmill as well as their counsel and help in developing this into the kind of home and school needed.
The Dillons will start soon to build another house for their family of seven children on the adjoining acreage still owned by them. This gift is so outstanding that it is inspiring to others to also sacrifice. The land is largely full of hardwood timber with the hollows and tablelands filled with grass for cattle, hay, garden, and space for berries. Oak hickory, walnut, and pine trees abound and plenty of timber is available for lumber to build with, along with a good sawmill to do the job.
Seeing the need for living quarters for some of the staff brought another great blessing. Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Mefferd of Storm Lak, Iowa, gave two house trailers, a 34-passenger International bus, two washing machines, a gas range, two chrome dinette sets, and in fact, the furniture is a truckload. They not only gave these but are hauling the trailers to Oklahoma for us. Mrs. Kernen and I will live in one of these until children are brought in for care.
The ministers of nearby churches have already met at the Christian Church in Siloam Springs for the general planning of the work. These have become the incorporators and will act as the Board of Directors until the corporation proceedings are complete. At that time, these several congregations will each elect one Director to represent them on the Board. Thus, there will be a simple elective procedure to spread management and interest. The Articles of Incorporation have set forth the scriptural qualifications for the affiliated congregations and the Directors they elect.
Cookson Hills Christian School is a non-profit benevolent corporation. It will serve homeless and handicapped boys and girls, without charge, of any faith or of no faith. These children will be enrolled by a parent, guardian, or under certain conditions by a court. We are not a foster home. We are not an adoption agency. Our care will provide for every need- spiritual, physical, and mental. We do not accept legal custody of children. We do not require contracting parents to relinquish their authority over any child. The overall program of the school includes the complete and full-time care and education of every child.
The officers and directors of the school are the founders and managers. This work is for the glory of Christ and not for man. The work accomplished will be done by the Church of which Christ is the head.
Cookson Hills Christian School is not governed by, nor responsible to any parent organization or religious group other than the local congregations of Christian people who sponsor it and support its work. Subsequently, we seek to serve and fellowship all who love the Lord and believe and practice His word.
The school will not formally open classes until Fall 1957. Children will be accepted for care about June 1, 1957. The grade limits will be kindergarten through eighth grade. This limit will be expanded as we add facilities.
A 12-month program is planned. The normal school year of nine months will be observed as is customary. Therefore, the other three months will be given to classes in trades and hobbies, Christian Youth Camp activities (there is now a good Christian Youth Camp on the premises), training in actual work projects, and in other educational activities as required by the children enrolled. Only qualified teachers will be used. The work offered will be equal to that required by the State plus the Christian training and other special work.
Cookson Hills Christian School is in Oklahoma, but the mailing address is Route 4, Siloam Springs, Arkansas. It is located on Oklahoma State Highway No. 10, about four miles south of the town of Kansa, and about 75 miles east of Tulsa. One can find the school four miles from the pavement on a good graveled highway maintained by the state. The telephone line is yet four miles from the property but we hope to bridge the gap as soon as possible.
It would be difficult to find a location more interesting to children and adults. The highway fronts our property for over a mile. The buildings are backed right up to the hills about a city block from the highway. On either side is a ravine and hills covered with trees. The entire place is fenced and a logging road goes back into the remote places, and even to the top of the ridge. There is a large cave reaching far back into the hill. The woods are full of animals and birds. The Illinois river passes about two miles away.
A large reservoir was built to store irrigation water this year. A spring on a hill provides a supply of cool weather for a concrete storage tank from which it is piped by gravity to the buildings. Walking through the woods we see first some tree squirrels perhaps, then we suddenly come upon a cow solemnly chewing her cud. There are coon, opossum, “striped kitties,” foxes, bob-cats, quail, and all sorts of birds to capture attention. Certainly, it is a good place to forget trouble and remember God.