A new World Vision program is igniting a passion among high school students for the world’s hardest places! Our partner school’s principal shares how this new experiential learning program is making the world’s issues — and some new friends — real for his students.
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“Dad, can Faith Lutheran adopt a village?” That was the remarkable question posed to me by my son Micah, then a junior at the school I help lead in Las Vegas.
Micah and his friends Tom and Haley had been learning about global poverty as students at Faith Lutheran Middle School and High School. As they learned more, each one felt deeply compelled by the gravity of what children and families living in poverty around the world face every day.
As a school principal, I love seeing my students think bigger than raising money, writing a check, and being done.
Their idea of partnering with a specific village — and sticking with that community long-term to help them break the cycle of poverty — excited and inspired me, but I wasn’t sure how to make it happen. So we called World Vision.
We wanted our school’s partnership to address not only one aspect of poverty, but all its contributing factors: from clean water and sanitation to economic empowerment, spiritual and community growth, and beyond. This is how World Vision works, and it’s the type of partnership we wanted our school to have.
Today, Faith Lutheran is one of the first Christian schools in North America to partner with a village across the globe through World Vision Ignite. When schools get involved with Ignite, they commit to investing in a specific community for at least 10 years. Students sponsor children in the community and get to know them through email, letters, and even video.
If our choir wants to sing a song in Swahili, we can take a video, send it to World Vision, and they’ll share it with the choir at our partner school.
World Vision Ignite also provides a specific curriculum for our students. While this academic knowledge is valuable, for me, one of Ignite’s largest draws is the way it helps my students cultivate meaningful relationships with friends across the globe.
This past summer, I had the chance to fly to Kenya with Faith Lutheran students, including Tom, Haley, and Micah, to visit our school’s two partner villages.
Haley remembers the experience as one of “complete culture shock.” The stunning beauty of the Kenyan landscape took her breath away. Yet, she also saw children playing in dirty water and women carrying heavy jugs on their heads.
Haley already knew how much our partner village needed clean water. But seeing the muddy water for herself, she says she felt the reality of the situation in a new way. During the trip, Haley was also able to meet her sponsored child, to play games with him, and to sing together.
Her sponsored child wants to be a pilot when he grows up. And because our school has committed to partnering with his village for the next decade, he will grow up in a community that is lifting itself out of poverty, which will give him more opportunities for a healthy and full life.
Looking back on the trip, Tom says that coming face to face with a child living in severe poverty lights your soul on fire. A passion is ignited inside of you. It all becomes real.
At Faith Lutheran, graduating strong and effective leaders who will impact our world for Christ is one of our top goals. To do this, we’ve spearheaded a variety of specific programs to give students the opportunity to specialize in areas like business, film and broadcasting, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), justice and advocacy, and more. Our school recently opened a state-of-the-art greenhouse that is part of our science curriculum. The produce grown is donated to a food bank throughout the year.
The initial idea for the greenhouse came from our Faith Lutheran students. They helped design the project, which is patterned after facilities at UC Davis and the University of Arizona. As a principal, I want to encourage my students to pursue the things they are passionate about. I look for projects that will cultivate their leadership skills and give them practical, real-world experience.
World Vision Ignite offers our school a meaningful service-learning experience at a level of depth I have not seen before. As my students serve others, I want them to develop meaningful relationships and to approach service learning in a way that is grounded in Christian faith and love of our neighbors. Every student at our school has a new way of looking at the world and activating their faith, even if they never have the chance to travel internationally.
After graduating this spring, Haley, Micah, and Tom are headed to prestigious universities. Each say their experience with Ignite gave them an edge with admissions and scholarships. I’m excited for their futures but also look forward to walking the halls of Faith Lutheran this fall. We’ve committed to investing in young leaders. And their journey of transformation and growth is just beginning.
In today’s turbulent world, the task of graduating students who are equipped to be strong and effective leaders is not an easy one. The best leaders don’t think they have all the answers. They see every person around them as a beloved child of God — full of value and worth — and they know their leadership is strengthened when they learn from others.
For students to impact our world for Christ, it is crucial that they form meaningful and authentic relationships with people who are different from them. World Vision Ignite is not just about students changing lives around the world. Its goal is that through relationships with friends a world away, they too will be transformed.
Through this mutual transformation, we see the Holy Spirit at work in our world: bringing healing, grace, and wholeness to all corners of our world.
Learn more about how World Vision Ignite is sparking global change by shaping students to be global citizens with a biblical worldview.