The partnership between Lake Center Christian School and World Vision started when students in the running club signed up for World Vision’s Global 6K for Water. When the day arrived last May, Ohio’s spring weather wasn’t exactly ideal — it was snowing. Despite the less-than-stellar conditions, 40 of the 50 participants who’d committed still showed up for the event.
Dannon Stock, who led the running club at that time, says those tough circumstances contributed to the students’ feelings of solidarity with children who have to walk 6 kilometers every day for water.
This year, the fifth-grade classes have embraced World Vision’s Global 6K for Water as the service-learning component in their school, which is about 30 minutes outside of Akron. Service to Christ is one of the school’s core values, and they look for unique ways to meet the needs of their immediate area as well as the global community. This event seemed tailor-made for them.
The students created soaps, hand sanitizer, and bracelets to raise money for their entrance fees and to donate to clean water efforts. The third-grade teachers wanted another activity for their classes to do for their service project. Again, World Vision provided the answer with the Matthew 25 Challenge.
Matthew 25:35-36 encourages believers to act on their faith by providing for those in need.
For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.—Matthew 25:35-36
Dannon, now the school’s principal, liked the idea of the challenge. “I thought it was a great opportunity for our school to get our kids involved in something outside of themselves, to see the bigger picture of what’s going on in the world and to actively participate in it,” she says.
World Vision sent daily text messages with tasks for the students. They included skipping snacks, wearing the same clothes two days in a row, and sleeping on the floor. The children and their families embraced the challenge.
“It’s an opportunity for kids to get involved in just really understanding the concept of global poverty and what it looks like to be in poverty throughout the world,” Dannon says.
Many of the more than 600 students are upper middle-class. Dannon believes the Matthew 25 challenge opened their eyes to understand that there are children in this country and around the world who go without every single day.
“Being uncomfortable is a good thing for our kids to feel too,” she says.
As part of the Matthew 25 Challenge, each participant received a lanyard with a picture of a child who lives in a developing country. “They really took ownership of the children who were on their lanyards. They wore the lanyards around all day, and then they had the one that they took home at night, so they could pray,” says Dannon. At the end of the challenge, students and their families also had the opportunity to sponsor the children.
The school is already making plans to participate again next year. They want to expand the challenge to students from the first grade through the third grade.
Dannon says, “I think if we are going to educate and send out Christian leaders, it’s important for us to instill — at an early age — a vision for what it looks like for them to go to all parts of the world.”