Category: STUDENTS

By Teresa Goodnight

The youth are our future. It’s a reminder Christians need to keep top of mind every day.  The buzz around many churches in the city continues to be around discipleship.  Many churches feel they have lost their way a bit on discipling new (and old!) believers and are trying to navigate their way back into more of a discipline.  The problem is—that navigation takes time.  For those who aren’t paying attention, it will take an awakening. However, as parents we KNOW that we really don’t have THAT much time.

Nothing seems faster than a child’s move from diapers to grade school and then out of the house to college or career.  As parents, many seriously wonder where the time has gone (Of course, some ARE anxiously counting down the days to graduation!). With time not being on our side, often one of the things accidentally put off until tomorrow can be the true discipleship of our children.  It’s not that we don’t take them to church—we do.  Mostly.  However, for many, life seems to get in the way of scheduled dedicated time together to talk about the Bible and train our kids.  We are trying, but the quick, hard question is this:  Are we doing enough?  Are our churches training our children to live life as successful, independent adult Christians?  To take it even further, are they being trained in a way to stay grounded in a world moving away from our core Christian values?  If we’re unsure, it’s a great reminder – we only get one chance to raise them right. 

One way parents are getting the extra discipleship is partnering with a Christian school.  I know.  It didn’t strike me at first either.  I never considered sending a child to private Christian schools until I had one. It wasn’t even on my radar. Then, when my daughter was born, I started to feel the burden of managing her education.  My husband and I looked at private schools before she was out of her diapers at just under 2 years.  However, I wasn’t looking for a Christian education partner–I was searching for the school to offer my highly intelligent, little cutie the ability to take advantage of all God had given her.  My husband and I set the course looking for a school avoiding naps and offering her the perfect environment to thrive.  Christian schools were on the list, because I wanted her to grow up around other Christian kiddos, but our first line of business was education.  I just liked the thought of fewer students to one teacher.  I was pretty sure my only child would need all the attention a teacher could muster to feel assured and heard.

In 2018 though, I started meeting children attending private Christian schools.   I was really in awe of how well they could articulate their faith with real depth of meaning. I couldn’t help but wonder if the difference was at home or in where their time was spent studying—maybe both. If it was at home, I was a little jealous of the parenting skills, as we barely found time for meals, much less anything else.  So, I decided to dig a little deeper.  When I started talking to the private Christian schools, I was amazed. Turns out, the majority of them spend semesters of time learning the basics of our faith. The Bible is integrated throughout the school career.  It’s not just for Sundays or maybe Wednesdays.  They study it. They learn to share it. It really becomes a large part of their every day life at school. I never really thought about it before. 

Then I started asking the students. Sure enough, the students were in private schools, attending classes on the basics of their faith, world views, and learning to integrate their beliefs into their everyday life. I was amazed at both their ability to articulate what they believe as well as how confidently they expressed their thoughts.  I knew right then, I had been focused on the wrong thing.  It wasn’t just the general educational experience, but I wanted my daughter to experience all the integration of God with her daily life that I could find.  All of a sudden, her education dropped to second place under her discipleship.

Why does this matter? Because if they don’t understand what they believe and why, when the days come when they question their faith (usually college age but sometimes earlier), they tend to begin to wander.  Only you
can know your child and how your church is faring on instilling the important basics of the faith in them. As a parent, this is a critical part of our jobs. If we miss it, we may not get that chance again. 

So, as a product of an incredible public school, where Bible studies, a few Christian teachers and Christian friends were the norm, I can still see how much of a difference a Christian education might have mattered to me.  As times get more difficult, if school can offer those extra people investing Biblically in my daughter, who help keep my child on God’s path for life–I’ve decided it’s worth the sacrifice. After all, it does take a village. 

CATCH THIS: We’re interviewing a graduate of Mingo Valley Christian, Carson Lowe, sophomore at the University of Arkansas, for February to specifically talk about this training and its value in his University of Arkansas World Views class. You won’t want to miss it next month.

After touring around several of the schools in the Tulsa area, Community Spirit Magazine (CSM) decided we wanted to create an annual contest supporting those efforts. These students are being Christ by showing their love and we want to help their light shine even brighter.  

We think helping others is infectious!  

Metro Christian Academy had a key role inspiring the contest with their act of kindness in October this last year to the community surrounding their school.  They decided to create their very own community block party (a trunk or treat). With a team of 9, they organized the event – coordinating everything from a costume tent for kids to a petting zoo.  They went into the community surrounding their school to invite their neighbors to attend.  With a whole school of volunteers and parents behind them for what appeared a seamless event, they touched hundreds of families in the neighborhood surrounding the school.  CSM went in to talk with Halle Sutton and Annie Blankenship, two of the student leaders to better understand what went on. 

With excitement to discuss their adventure, Halle and Annie were anxiously waiting in the room ready to talk. Annie’s sister Amy Blankenship was the Service Head for the school and actually had the vision for the event.  Annie and Halle both helped start the event in 2017. They both saw exactly how the event impacted lives the first year–and couldn’t wait to be leaders this last year.  

So, without hesitation, they started right in.  Halle began passionately, stating she feels Metro Christian Academy’s campus location isn’t just by accident. She said “It’s a cool opportunity we have right where we are to help the community fellowship with each other.” The community surrounding the school hits the news a lot with more than what it deserves from crime problems. When you’re on the outside of a crime area, people tend to falsely assume the people in the area are creating the problems, when they are just living with them more closely than the rest of us.  Both girls feel strongly there is a need for everyone to come together as a community.   Annie says “It’s a cool safe place.  Even if for one night, kids can feel safe in their world. They can realize we can come together and we can make friends. It was fun watching them make friends with each other as well as the volunteers.”

Halle feels the event is stressful but incredibly worth it to see the kids having fun.  She said, “Some of the more difficult areas for running an event like this are trying to stay in budget.” That’s a common thread in any event planning as we all know too well.   Annie also finds vision planting a bit challenging at times.  She said  “As students we know the most about this event, but then you also have to work with the adults and the people in charge to get them to approve a lot of things. You have to share your vision with them to get them on board.”  

Volunteers were key to the success of the event said the girls.  They all played really important parts in the success.  Halle said “The volunteers could sign up for whatever their interests were. So, if they were good at painting, they could sign up for face painting.” Halle said “With all the volunteers, we had hamster balls, face painting, pumpkin painting, bouncy houses, inflatables, a petting zoo, 9 square and even a fire breather” (as both girls chuckled). “Then there was a costume closet.” said Annie  “A lot of Metro kids and families donated used and new costumes.  So, any kid who came without a costume could get one.“The event had quality and charm with a little something for everyone. Annie followed on to say, “On the night of the event, it was kind of crazy.  As the service committee, we knew we’d be running around trying to make sure everything was happening right but we had these volunteers coming for one night. They were fresh and ready to connect with the kids. So we got to see everyone creating these amazing bonds with the kids as we were running around making things happen. It was just incredible to watch.”  

Annie was thrilled with the smiles on the kids faces who came but also really moved at the impact the event had on the students at Metro. “Sometimes Metro students can wonder ‘Why are we in this location?’  It has a reputation for being a bad place.  So seeing the good in the community around us was a really cool thing for us, as students.  It helps everyone remember kids live here and they’re really sweet–like any other kids you would run into.” Annie also added  “I think the cool thing was also that we had so many Metro parents volunteering and I really saw them making connections with other parents.” 

The girls said they had some great community partners as well. Cane’s on 41st gave chicken kids meal cards for all the kids.  Reasors on Peoria stepped in and gave them a great deal on the food, which helped make the event even better.  That kind of kindness makes you want to run grab some Cane’s right before you go shopping at Reasors!

As I listened to them both, the incredible lessons they were learning for life were really astounding.  Being an event planner, it jumped out that they were touching on everything you would need to create a successful event for any business or charity–from logistics to budget and most importantly, getting people on board with your vision.  These were not just event skills, but critical life skills–all learned while making a difference in their community.  There was such joy in their eyes as they shared.  It was
easy to see deep down the greatest IMPACT of all was on their hearts.