Sully Christian School welcomes new administrator

After being without a permanent administrator since 2015, Sully Christian School is pleased to welcome Dr. Ferry Yang to the position starting this month. Yang brings 20 years of professional experience with schools and a strong passion for Christian education to SCS.

{FEATURE PHOTO: The Yang family arrived in the States on Apr. 25 after a “miraculous” journey from Indonesia amidst the height of the global pandemic. Dr. Ferry Yang, far right, will serve as Sully Christian School’s new administrator. He is shown with his wife Lika and two daughters.}

                The process of getting Yang (pronounced Young) from his home country of Indonesia to Sully – which included flying halfway around the world in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic – was nothing short of “miraculous,” in Yang’s words. It was also the culmination of what has been a five-year journey to find a permanent administrator for SCS.

BECOMING CONNECTED

                Yang credits “God’s providence” in connecting him with SCS. He first heard of the school in March 2018, when Dr. David Ritter of Christian Schools International contacted him, asking if they could talk about a principal position at SCS. Ritter interviewed Yang twice via Skype before recommending his name to the SCS Board. The board was interested in Yang, so in mid-2018, they interviewed him twice before inviting him to an on-site visit to Sully.

                In September 2018, Yang came to Sully for five days. During that time, he visited the school, met with the board, and was introduced to the faculty, staff, and students. He also connected with people and explored the area. Two weeks after returning to Indonesia, the SCS Board offered the job to Yang.

                “After praying and deliberating with family, we felt that God led us toward accepting the offer,” Yang said. “I personally felt very connected with the school, its vision, mission, and faith. So I accepted the offer.”

PERSONAL & EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND

                Yang was born and raised in Indonesia to parents of Chinese descent. They taught him in the traditional Chinese way but with a “slightly modern approach.”

                With so many in the L-S area having Dutch roots, it’s interesting to note Yang’s family believes there is some Dutch blood on his mom’s side of the family. “My grandma from my mom’s side was Dutch-educated and spoke Dutch fluently,” Yang explained.

                Growing up, Yang’s parents decided to send him to a Christian school for his formal education, another thing he considers as “God’s providence.”

                Ever since attending the Christian school, Yang has believed in the God of the Bible and never wavered in his faith. “I submitted to the Lordship of Christ when I was 15, that was affirmative and sure,” he said. “Then shortly after, I was baptized in a Presbyterian church, where I was actively involved in ministry.”

 Yang attended Petra Christian School for all his grade levels and finished high school with a concentration on science.  He went on to Petra Christian University to get his bachelor’s in architecture. After graduation, he went to China to study Mandarin for six months and then returned to Indonesia to work as an interior designer.

A CALL TO EDUCATE AND PASTOR

                Feeling God calling him into Christian education, Yang’s next stop on his life journey was to the U.S. to study educational ministry at Calvin Theological Seminary. After Calvin, he taught ethics back at Petra Christian University. Yang collaborated with a Reformed pastor in Indonesia in establishing a K-6 Christian school, Logos School. Yang trained the Logos teachers; gave consultation on the school vision, mission, and policy; and also advised on the curriculum. He and the pastor also set up a Christian education (CE) program at Reformed Evangelical Theology School of Surabaya (Indonesia) to equip teachers. He taught the CE classes there and at Bible School of Surabaya. Yang remained the theology school’s consultant primarily on curriculum and teacher training. 

                In 2002, Yang married his wife, Lika, two months before returning to the U.S. for his Ph.D in educational studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS). They now have two daughters, Sasya (16) and Sophie (10). Sasya was born when Yang was studying at TEDS (making her a U.S. citizen – more on that later), and Sophie was born when Yang was the principal of UPH College in Jakarta, a college preparatory Christian high school, which he built from the ground up in 2009.

                “In 2011, God called me to be prepared and equipped as a minister of His Word, and so I went to Calvin Seminary for my M.Div,” Yang said. “I graduated in 2013 and accepted a call to Neerlandia CRC in Alberta, Canada. So, I am both an educator and a pastor.”

                In 2015, Yang and his wife founded Yang Academy that works primarily as an education consultant agency to schools, individual school leaders, parents, and also students.                  “We had several schools as our clients,” he explained. “Some are big schools up to 5,000 students, and some are small schools up to 120 students, and most of them were Christian schools.”

                Now, Yang is bringing his expertise to SCS.

                “It is my greatest desire to serve the Lord in Christian education,” he said, “and I am looking forward to being fully active in Sully Christian School.”

The Yang family is pictured from left, Lika, Sophie (10), Sasya (16), and Dr. Ferry Yang.

ANSWERED PRAYERS IN PANDEMIC

                The story of how Yang and his family coming to Sully would be incomplete without sharing the details of how they managed to fly to the U.S. in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

                The family had been waiting to move to the U.S. until they received their visas, which finally came on Mar. 19, 2020. At that time, the number of cases of COVID-19 was rising quickly in both Indonesia and the U.S. They decided they should probably get to the U.S. sooner rather than later, and their immigration lawyer and the U.S. Embassy in the capital city of Jakarta agreed. The SCS Board tried to find tickets for May 27 but was unable to find any because the travel agents wouldn’t issue any tickets; in fact, they advised against flying into the U.S. during the pandemic. Yang said they decided to wait until the situation calmed.

                But the situation didn’t calm. The cases in Indonesia continued to climb higher and higher every day. Because Yang’s daughter Sasya is a U.S. citizen, they were receiving emails every day from the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia urging all U.S. citizens to return to the U.S. as soon as possible because flights from Indonesia to America were dramatically reduced.

                “My daughter Sasya asked the Embassy about the situation and how her family with immigrant visas could enter the U.S. during this pandemic,” Yang said. “The Embassy corresponded with her back and forth checking our visas and all, and then confirmed that we would be able to enter the U.S. with no problem, and they urged us to do it ASAP.”

                In mid-April, the SCS Board looked but was again unable to find plane tickets. Yang tried to go through travel agents in Indonesia, but still had no success.

                “We were in limbo for about a week, but we continued to pray to the Lord for help and guidance,” he said.

                He informed some friends of his need, and one who worked in a big company in Indonesia offered her help because she had connections with big travel agencies in Yang’s hometown. “This was indeed a godsend,” Yang said. “So she helped me; almost every day she would check in with the travel agency. It was quite difficult to find a route that would not be cancelled.”

                  They booked one route, which was later cancelled by the airlines. They were back to square one with a little over a week left in April. Then, on Monday, Apr. 21, they finally found and booked tickets that would fly them domestically from Surabaya to Jakarta on Apr. 24 and from Jakarta to Tokyo and then Chicago on Apr. 25.

                The family felt better – until they heard an announcement on Twitter from President Trump on Apr. 21 (U.S. time) saying he would sign an executive order preventing immigration to the U.S. Since all of the family members, except Sasya, had immigrant visas, they wondered what that meant for them.

                Yang immediately contacted their lawyer and the SCS Board and spent two days praying for clarity. President Trump signed the executive order on Apr. 23. Then Yang received the details about the order and learned it didn’t affect those who already had a valid immigrant visa. The family thanked God and felt more confidence in their plan. However, their roller coaster ride wasn’t over yet.

                “Now, exactly on the 23rd of April, the same day we found relief from the details of President Trump’s EO, in the evening we heard shocking news that the government of Indonesia suddenly announced,” Yang said. “The announcement was by the department of transportation stating that starting Apr. 24, all modes of public transportation would be shut down, domestic or international.”

                This announcement would affect their domestic flight from Surabaya to Jakarta on the 24th and their international flight from Jakarta to Tokyo on the 25th.

                “Amazingly, we felt calm,” Yang shared. “We trusted God who had started this entire process. He who was with us since the beginning, would also be with us until the end.  We proceeded. We did not halt our packing or anything, but we continued on.”

                On Apr. 24, the day of their 6 p.m. flight, they heard on the 10 a.m. news that the airport in Surabaya was shutdown following the order by the department of transportation. Fortunately for the Yangs, the airport was reopened in the afternoon. Apparently, the night before, there had been chaos in airports across Indonesia because of people trying to travel before the shutdown. After evaluating their sudden announcement leading to chaotic situations, the government decided to revise their decision. 

                “The department of transportation made the second announcement on the 24th revising their Apr. 23 announcement to allow for one more day of domestic flights and allowing for all international flights to operate without the fear of shutdown,” Yang said. “We saw God’s hands in all that, and we are grateful to the Lord who is sovereign over all.”

                Finally, on Apr. 24, the family flew to Jakarta and stayed overnight in a hotel near the airport. At 6 a.m. on Apr. 25, they flew out of Indonesia, arriving in Chicago on Apr. 25 at 2 p.m. CST. Thankfully, it was smooth sailing from there.

                “The airport was quite empty,” Yang said. “We went to the immigration desk, it took us about 15 minutes, then, they allowed us in. Voila, we were on the U.S. soil!”

                A longtime friend in Chicago met them at the airport and helped them pick up a rental car, which the Yangs drove from Chicago to Sully, arriving around 10 p.m. They were greeted by Candice Vos at the house where the family would be staying for their 14 days of self-quarantine.

After a whirlwind five weeks from when their visas arrived to when they left for the U.S., the Yangs are grateful to have reached their long-awaited destination.

                “You know, God is truly good, nice, and kind,” Yang said. “He is truly a Shepherd to all who trust in Him. He heard our prayers – our family prayers, the SCS Board prayers, the prayers of the people in Sully, and He answered our prayers accordingly. Finally, after 18 months of the up-and-down immigration process and the COVID-19 saga at the beginning of the year 2020, we are here! We are here because God has carried us here. Praise God!”

                After two weeks of quarantining, Yang has begun working as administrator at SCS. Mrs. Angela Veenstra, head teacher, will help with the transition over the course of this next year. Yang said he’s most excited “to partner, to collaborate, to synergize with all the SCS stakeholders in the education of our children so they may fulfill God’s purpose and will for their life.”

                For the past two years, Candice Vos, vice president of the SCS Board, has been the primary facilitator of the process of getting the new administrator to SCS. She believes Yang making it to Sully last month shows that “God’s timing is always perfect!  Dr. Yang and his family arrived here exactly when God wanted them here, and they only made it here by God’s hand!”

GET TO KNOW THE YANGS
Faith is very important to Dr. Yang and his family. They do a family devotion once a week and read the Bible together every morning. Yang and his wife are raising their kids in line with the Reformed faith, while still teaching them about their traditional Chinese culture. For the past five years, they have homeschooled their daughters, teaching them to be independent learners. “We want to be a family that continues to serve the Lord in every capacity and opportunity we are given,” Yang said.
The whole family loves music and arts. Lika plays piano and sings, and Sasya and Sophie play violin and piano and sing, too. Their creativity carries over into other arts as well. Yang and his wife both have degrees in architecture and can both draw well. The girls like to draw, too, and create things, like their own card game and Sasya’s first novel, which she is working on.
A man of many interests, Yang loves to read about theology, philosophy, and anything related to education. He also loves to write and has published two books in Indonesia on Christian education and Indonesian national education. He has another manuscript in English called “Excellence in Education” and other themes and materials he would like to publish as well. Studying languages is another activity Yang enjoys; he’s currently self-studying German and French.

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