Teaching Students to Reach Out to Others
As Americans we are so blessed with material things and all the comforts of life that we can easily forget how most of the rest of the world lives with so little. As I teach my students geography, I realize that the best way I can get them interested in other parts of the world is to involve them in outreach to communities outside their own. Then, in addition to teaching them geography, I can also help them follow the calling of Christ to love others as ourselves.
This past December we had just such an opportunity. I was invited by a colleague to accompany a high school group on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, where they would be building a church and holding a Vacation Bible School. I was very interested in going on the trip like I had in the past to India, but I could not get the leave time from my classes here. Nevertheless, I wanted to be a part of the program and wanted my students to have a part, so I decided we could help by putting together all of the crafts for the VBS program.
I chose Heroes of the Bible for the program theme. Using 10 leading characters of both men and women from the Bible, I put together story and craft ideas for each. For example, making lion face puppets that kids could hold in front of their faces to with the story of Daniel in the lions’ den, or crafting baby Moses in a basket and bulrushes for Miriam’s story. Once the ideas and materials were gathered, I started to involve my students.
I explained to them the mission, location, and the need to prepare 1,000 crafts for the children. I asked them if they would like to help. They were more than willing and quickly got out their scissors and glue sticks. The students were quite eager to be a part of something outside themselves and to make a difference in the world. We need to provide them with these opportunities.
Once the 1,000 crafts were prepped, bundled, and boxed for transportation with all the glue sticks, scissors, and crayons that would be needed, the students and I prayed over the box and delivered it to those going on the trip over Christmas break. The group sent us back pictures of the children who came to the program and were blessed with work we had done and the things we had sent overseas.
My students were glad to know they made a difference in the lives of children they will never meet, but they felt that the greater blessing came to them because by being a part of it all, they became a little less self-focused and began to recognize how much they have.