Our History

Providing Bible education for public school students during school hours.


Ancient History

LifeWise Academy was born out of a partnership between two ministries: Stand For Truth and Cross Over the Hill. Stand For Truth was founded in 2011 as an event-based ministry to reach unchurched students in public schools with the gospel. Cross Over the Hill was founded in 2012 to provide released time Bible education to public school students in Van Wert, OH.


The Riddle

In 2018, Tim Stoller, a founding Cross Over the Hill board member, engaged Joel Penton, the Stand For Truth founder and Van Wert native, to help answer the question, “If released time is legal and so impactful, then why is it so uncommon?” They concluded that too many barriers to entry existed and that a plug-and-play model was called for. The Cross Over the Hill board encouraged Penton to form a new division of Stand For Truth to develop the concept, and LifeWise Academy was born.


Proof of Concept

Two schools pioneered the LifeWise model in 2019: Ayersville Schools in Ayersville, OH (serving grades 1-6) and Riverview Schools in Conesville, OH (serving grades 1-3). Both schools enrolled more than 60% of their eligible students. Midway through the 2019-20 school year, the Cross Over the Hill board in Van Wert voted to rebrand and reorganize to become the flagship LifeWise Academy.


Going Viral

Amidst the worldwide Covid pandemic, LifeWise launched in three additional schools across two school districts, including the first program to operate a shuttle bus. By the end of the 2020-21 school year, LifeWise was serving eight schools across five school districts and set the goal to serve 25 schools by 2025.



The goal to serve 25 schools by 2025 was immediately shattered when 28 new schools launched, bringing the total to 36 schools served with more than 5,600 students enrolled! The new programs included multiple inner-city schools, a suburban school and the first LifeWise program outside the state of Ohio. In 2021, a new goal was set to reach 1,000 schools and 150,000 students enrolled by the 2026-27 school year.


The Campaign

With the goal of reaching the first 1,000 schools by 2026, LifeWise focused on the right strategy, partners and resources to grow its reach. To stay on track, LifeWise aimed to serve 84 schools. By God’s grace, LifeWise served 133 schools across 4 states in 2022 including Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Iowa. By the end of the school year, more than 15,000 students were enrolled!


During School Hours

Since inception, the greatest obstacle has faced is that people simply don’t know it’s possible. With the release of the book During School Hours and several media opportunities, LifeWise focused on clarifying and amplifying the message of providing Bible education during school hours. By the end of the 2023-24 school year, LifeWise served more than 30,000 students from 331 schools across 13 states.


LifeWise Academy | PO Box 1179 Hilliard, OH 43026 | Copyright 2024