History of JECS

From the Beginning

The foundations for what would become Jim Elliot Christian School were laid when three groups of people began to pray independently for God’s provision in developing a new Christian secondary school in the Denver area. These three groups, upon learning of each other’s existence, met jointly at the home of Randy and Janet Gradishar in March of 1990. The participants, representing twenty-one families and eleven churches, identified key elements of what they considered as a truly Christian education.

Meeting approximately once every three weeks, this founding group of people continued to lay the groundwork for a new Christian school to open in the fall of 1991.

In May of 1990, it was suggested that the new school be named after Jim Elliot, a missionary to Ecuador who, along with four other young husbands and fathers, was killed in 1956 while attempting to make contact with a previously unknown people group called the Waodoni. Undeterred by the risk, Jim and his partners desired to make contact and share the gospel with this tribal group. When the attack occurred the missionaries held to their convictions not to fight back, despite having firearms in their possession.

The ensuing worldwide attention, generated in part by Life Magazine, and the eventual conversion of the killers proved the truth of Jim’s prophetic journal entry: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose!” After receiving the blessing of Elisabeth Elliot (Jim’s widow), our founding families acquired the name Jim Elliot School, a statement of direction as a community passionately committed to Christ, and an identification with those who seek to live incarnational lives wherever God has placed them.

One of our former teachers, Mark McPherson, declared, “Jim Elliot died long before he was killed.” The same is true of Mark, who died in 2005 after he had died to self years before. Like Jim and Mark, those who follow in the footstep of Jesus are invited to do the same.

Jim Elliot School officially opened in September of 1991 as a middle school/high school with twenty-three students representing twenty families. The school also affiliated with the educational institution Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). In 2004 our Board approved a name change to Jim Elliot Christian School to better reflect our spiritual emphasis to the community.