Have you ever asked “What does it mean to be a Christian?” For some Christians there seems to exist a cloud of unanswered personal questions making the answers difficult, if not impossible to see. For example, what’s the difference between being a Christian accountant and a non-Christian accountant? If Jesus is Lord then each of our lives matter, including the work that we dedicate our lives to; so we know God has called us to engage it. To answer this simple but profound question we must consider the character of God, revealed through scripture, and how we can best reflect Him in the world we find ourselves in. We want our students to engage the world. It is hoped that students at Kelowna Christian School, through the diverse experiences provided for them, will wrestle with the answers as to how they can be Jesus within their personal circumstances. Each one of us is different, made up of different experiences and living in diverse contexts. God’s story invites us to be co-healers with Him within the context we find ourselves. We know that God’s story reveals His heart for the poor and marginalized, but what does that look like in our own lives?
OUR STORY IN INDIA
We are excited to have a whole new group of Grade 11 and 12 students – 14 of them with 4 teachers - embarking to India again this year (January 20 – February 3, 2017). KCS has partnered with Child of Mind, will be sending our team to go serve and love India at the Shanti Niketan Children’s Home.
Started in 1988, the home’s mission is to raise up Christian leaders in Northern India; a region that has less than 1% of its population who call Jesus Lord. Our team will run a Vacation Bible School for the 70+ children at the home, giving the staff a much needed rest and the children a fun, engaging, and hopefully spiritually uplifting experience. In addition, the India 2017 team will spend some of their time exploring India and learning how the Indian Church and its international partners are responding to the needs of the country.
Stories are all around us. They tell us who we are and who God is. They can fill our sails with meaning, while other stories insinuate a different purpose for our lives. There are numerous stories, stories like consumerism that say that we are consumers and money is God. Other stories, like pluralism, tell us we are who we want to be and God is who we believe Him to be. In contrast, the Bible lays out for us another story - one that tells us we are God’s creation and loved by Him. This story gives us our identity, rather than saying we need to invent it. His story explains our sinful condition, but provides hope by pointing to a God that hasn’t abandoned or left us to our ruin. Instead it’s a story of God seeking after us and making a way for us to partake in His story of redemption. This powerful story is a living story that invites us in. Our desire at Kelowna Christian School is to help students see how their own personal stories fit within God’s overarching story and plan for their life.
Last year, KCS had the privilege of leading a team of students to the Shanti Niketan Children’s Home. Shanti Niketan means House of Peace. This powerful experience had a tremendously positive impact on our students as they wrestled with these questions. Travelling through Delhi, Amritsar and other cities their hearts broke as they witnessed the ruin that poverty brings to so many. They helplessly watched the poor being beaten with sticks, left in the cold, and marginalized from the social culture of India.
In contrast, at the Shanti Niketan Children’s Home our students watched the transforming power of people who not only hear God’s story of redemption, but also choose to be part of it. All of the children at the home came from the same hopelessly impoverished circumstances that our students just recently experienced in the urban cities. However, the children who called Shanti Niketan home were alive, strong, and filled with joy! The contrast couldn’t be starker. Our students saw firsthand what can happen when people align their lives with God’s story. Our actions matter because they make God’s story come alive in our world.
God has invited us, KCS, to join these children in their amazing living story found in the beautiful Himalayan mountains of Northern India. We invite you to follow our journey through our blog and Twitter channel (posted above) and pray with us for our students and their experience and impact in India. If you interested in learning more about the Shanti Niketan Home, please visit Child of Mine at www.childofmine.ca. Our leaders would love to talk with you and share more about our experiences. Child of Mine is a Kelowna-based child sponsorship organization committed to partnering people with the Shanti Niketan Home.
Ian & Nathania Sharp, Daryl Klassen, and Sara DeZwaan
2017 KCS India Mission Trip Leaders
We believe that in order to achieve KCS’s mission of growing disciples of Jesus Christ who glorify God through a life of service to Him and others, we need to model that behaviour. Over the past two years, our school has been influenced by Darryl Deboer and a program called Teaching for Transformation. During our training time with him he introduced us to this quote:
“It is nothing but a pious wish and a grossly unwarranted hope that students trained to be passive and non-creative in school will suddenly, upon graduation, actively contribute to the formation of Christian culture” - Nicholas Wolterstorff
This quote is both inspirational and scary. In my experience as a teacher and in the church I believe this statement to be 100% true. The tension between scary and inspirational exist in the challenge that this quote presents. Creating engaged creative students within the confines of the classroom is possible, but can be difficult. It is often beyond the walls of the classroom that we have more success achieving this.
India will be a chance for some of our students to contribute to Christian culture or at minimum observe people that are. We have already seen this in our community, as the whole school raised $13,000 for Child of Mind in only 6 weeks. The Kindergarteners made blankets, the Elementary students wrote letters, and the Middle and High School ran fun fundraising challenges for their campus. We are taking 14 students, but our entire student body is engagd. We are excited to experience and see God’s story in India, and how we fit into that Story both while in India and when we get home.
“We are story-formed people. Our lives are first shaped by narrative, not by information. We don’t learn how to live the Christian life by memorizing facts, rules, precepts, morals, imports, exports, governments, and drains... We begin to see our lives as part of a pattern within the larger story of redemption. We long to live a life worthy of that story” - Sarah Arthur, from Shaped by God, Robert J. Keeley.
KCS High School Teacher