Thank you for praying for our Middle School Retreat February 20-23!
Staff and students alike enjoyed a few days outside the city at a nearby retreat center, though some of us didn’t get much sleep those two nights! Middle school students seem to have boundless energy though there were plenty of activities to keep them busy – ultimate cow tongue (think ultimate frisbee but more disgusting), hiking, soccer, basketball, tag, and scavenger hunts. And, of course, there were the worship services, teaching sessions, and small group times. The Lord met us there and many students encountered Jesus’ love in new ways through song, prayer, laughter, tears, conversation, and diving into God’s Word.
High school spiritual impact week in February was also a time of challenge and growth for our students. Our special speaker, a missionary from Hungary, brought messages centered on having the mind of Christ based on Colossians 3:1-3. Earlier in the month high school chapels focused on issues of poverty, so our spiritual impact week ended with a high school service day. Students were divided into four groups to visit four centers of ministry both inside and outside of Tirana. They learned firsthand about relief and development efforts, orphan and children’s work, literacy outreach and church-planting ministries. The following week several students shared moving testimonies of the impact of that day.
Then came March, now April. We’ve returned to the routine of school days with quizzes, homework, lesson plans, meetings, classroom management and school-age drama. Walking through the ordinary days of life, eyes focused on the tasks at hand, it’s hard to remember the moments recently set apart. For us as teachers at a Christian school, there’s a sort of emotional/spiritual whiplash that happens when we go from crying and praying with a student at retreat to having to discipline that same student for misbehavior in the classroom. When faced with the need to move through the curriculum and complete a lesson plan despite a roomful of talkative students, it’s easy to forget the heart needs of each student.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (NIV)
Pray we may truly see each student, day in and day out, as created in the image of God. Pray we may be so filled with God’s love towards them, so filled with His Spirit, that we act each day as ambassadors bringing a message of reconciliation through Jesus Christ.