“Mr. Fogo, can our school adopt a village?”
Tom, Haley, and Micah were juniors at Faith Lutheran Middle and High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. As they learned about global poverty, each one felt deeply compelled by the gravity of what children and families living in poverty around the world experience every day.
Their idea of partnering with a specific community, and sticking with them 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 I called World Vision.
As a school principal, I wanted our school’s partnership to address not just one aspect of poverty, but all of its contributing factors: from clean water and sanitation to economic development, spiritual and community growth, and beyond. This is how World Vision works, and it’s the type of partnership I 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 ten years. Students sponsor children in the community and get to know them through email, letters, and 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 our partner school.
World Vision Ignite also provides age-specific, challenging curriculum for our students. While this academic knowledge is valuable, one of Ignite’s largest draws for me 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 Tom, Haley, and Micah — who happens to be my son — and five other Faith Lutheran students to visit our school’s two partner communities.
Haley remembers the experience as one of “complete culture shock,” as she puts it. The stunning beauty of the Kenyan landscape took her breath away. Yet at the same time, she saw children playing in muddy water and women carrying heavy jugs on their heads.
Haley understood how much clean water mattered, but seeing the contaminate water for herself made her feel the reality of the situation in a whole new way. During the trip, Haley was also able to meet her sponsored child, Kipkorir and enjoyed the time she had playing games and singing with him.
Kipkorir shared that he wants to be a pilot when he grows up. And because our school has committed to partnering with his community for the next decade, he will be able to grow up in an area that is thriving and empowered to raise itself out of poverty. Because of this partnership, Kipkorir will have more opportunities for a healthy and full life, and a real, solid chance to pursue his dreams.
Looking back on the trip, Tom says that coming face-to-face, quite literally, with a child living in severe poverty “lights your soul on fire. A passion is ignited inside of you … it all becomes real.”
These students have all been changed by their experience. It’s shaped them into compassionate, determined, and equipped young people. Graduating strong and effective leaders who will impact our world for Christ is one of our top goals at Faith Lutheran. To do this, I’ve spearheaded a variety of specific programs to give students the opportunity to specialize in areas like business, film/broadcasting, STEM, justice and advocacy, and more. Our school recently opened a state-of-the-art greenhouse that not only serves as part of our science curriculum, but also provides produce we donate to a local food bank throughout the year.
Just like with World Vision Ignite, the initial idea for the greenhouse came from our Faith Lutheran students themselves. Students helped design the project, which is patterned after facilities at the University of California at Davis and the University of Arizona, Tucson. 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 neighbor. And that’s just what’s happened.
It’s been incredible to walk with Haley, Micah, and Tom in the time since they first approached me with their idea to partner with a community in the developing world. After graduation this spring, all three 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. It’s 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. But don’t just take my word for it—bring Ignite to your school and see how it can bring about an incredible, meaningful change in the lives of your students.
We’d love to send you a sample of Ignite curriculum
For each lesson, we’ve laid out clear learning objectives and flexible teaching timeframes. To challenge students to think more deeply, we’ve created thought-provoking discussion questions and included corresponding Scripture. Each grade level is supported by a different guiding question, while each lesson has an academic focus and meaningful engagement opportunities.
See just a glimpse of how Ignite can be a valuable tool to challenge your students to live out their faith with boldness at home, and across the globe.