CHEW Draws Massive Crowd of Homeschoolers


The Christian Home Educators of Wisconsin conference has grown steadily over its three years of existence—nearly doubling since the first installment in 2022.

This Thursday and Friday, April 4 and 5, it drew roughly 3,300 attendees from homeschool-friendly families and ministries to the colossal Kalahari Resort in Baraboo, Wis.—near Wisconsin Dells. The days were jam-packed with activities of all kinds, for all ages.

There were various types of exhibits also geared for a plethora of needs—60 displays in total. They offered curriculum, books, games, toys, learning experiences and much more, and filled a large banquet room, spilling out into the hallway. It was my privilege to oversee one of those displays, for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. I also taught a workshop, titled “A Good Witness of God’s Word in Satan’s World,” dealing with discipleship, the Great Commission and the Biblical means of perpetuating the faith.

There were eight different time slots for workshops over the two days, with 12 choices for each one, including a teen track and a kids’ track. Workshop topics (from more than 25 speakers) also varied widely, covering Biblical, historical, apologetic and worldview themes, as well as practical topics related to the home, family, marriage and homeschooling.

“Whether it’s through a marriage counseling track, or how to manage a busy week, we want to see moms and dads equipped to raise their children to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ,” stated CHEW founder Randy Melchert.

The days were bookended by four keynote addresses, which came from family and homeschool author and speaker Israel Wayne; family and women’s author and speaker Heidi St. John; magician and children’s speaker Forrest Chapman; and actor and author Jim Caviezel, who is best known for his roles in The Passion of the Christ and Sound of Freedom. He spoke during the banquet on Thursday evening. Caviezel gave a rousing talk, which included quoting a lengthy portion of Ronald Reagan’s famous speech, “A Time for Choosing,” which Reagan originally delivered on Oct. 27, 1964.* Caviezel presented that portion using an excellent imitation of Reagan’s voice.

“God doesn’t always choose the best, but He chose you,” Caviezel said near the end of his talk. “What are you going to do about it?”

The conference marked 40 years of educational freedom for home schools and other private schools in the state of Wisconsin. Marv Munyon, the founder and president of Wisconsin Capitol Watch, received an award during the banquet for his part in that process, and also presented a workshop detailing the history behind it. He is shown in a photo standing behind Gov. Tony Earl when he signed the relevant bill into law on May 10, 1984. Munyon has a background in Christian education and has a long track record of analyzing political and legislative activity from a Biblical perspective.

Melchert summarized the conference as follows: “Our goal is that this can be a time of encouragement, fellowship, and learning for families across the state, and judging by the comments we’ve received, it’s been a success.”

The potential to draw on the homeschoolers as future students of their own was not lost on several Christian colleges. Maranatha Baptist University, Baptist College of Ministry, Faith Baptist Bible College, Bob Jones University, Emmaus Bible College and Ethnos360 Bible Institute were all represented at CHEW.

VCY America also had a significant presence at the event, along with BJU Press and Abeka Book. There were also five camps exhibiting.

Judging from conversations I had with numerous people at my display table, the conference is becoming an annual event on many families’ calendars. The next edition will unfold on March 20 and 21, 2025, also at the Kalahari Resort.

*For the full text of the speech, see “A Time for Choosing Speech, October 27, 1964;” Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum; n.d.;…. Internet, accessed 5 April 2024.