Archive for February, 2016

Slammin’ Famine 2016

by Sarah Case

“Revive”, Heritage Christian Academy’s theme this year, from the book of Romans.  When the Holy Spirit is working in us, a revival happens and we respond by serving God and becoming part of His plan to build His kingdom.  Revive is defined by Webster’s dictionary as to return to life; to recover life or strength; to live anew.

Feed My Starving Children (FMSC), a nonprofit christian organization committed to feeding God’s children hungry in both body and spirit.  I first learned about FMSC from a youth at our church who had packed meals previously for FMSC.  She convinced me that it was a fun event and impactful for learning to serve others.  During our first food pack for FMSC in the summer of 2014, I was amazed at the outpouring of love and excitement that went into packing each bag of rice, soy, vegetables and vitamins.  I remember after we packed the meals, they gathered our group together to pray over the box we packed.  Then they shared with us that these children often eat dirt biscuits which is a combination of dirt and rocks.  Parents feed these to their children because it fills their stomachs and helps them sleep.  This was impactful knowing that the food we packed was going straight from our hands into the hands of orphanages in over 70 countries to help starving children.  I cannot think of a better way to revive our own spirit and the spirit of those in need than to work together packing meals for children in need.  When we work together to accomplish an unselfish goal, the Holy Spirit moves in us, reviving us as well.

The second annual FMSC Slammin’ Famine packing event is scheduled for February 26th. Heritage Christian Academy’s kindergarten through 12th grade students will join NOCO Slammin’ Famine on February 26th from 12 to 2 p.m. to pack meals for the second straight year.  The Slammin’ Famine organization packs meals for “Feed My Starving Children” (FMSC) who in turn distribute meals throughout the world to those in need. The students will be packing meals consisting of rice, soy, vitamins and dehydrated vegetables.  These food packets are called MannaPack and refers to the spiritual food that was provided to the Israelites while they were wandering in the desert.

Students at Heritage reflected about the packing event and their remarks showed true of their hearts.

“I feel deeply enriched by Slammin’ Famine every time I attend because it gives me an insight into lives very different from my own and brings our school together in service.  This year will be especially fulfilling personally because our school theme of Anazao (revival) has been leading me to be more compassionate and caring towards others.” — Hannah

“I’m excited by the opportunity to serve with Slammin’ Famine.  It will allow me to reach out in a way I wouldn’t be able to otherwise.” — Jakob

“Serving God by serving others leaves my soul richly supplied.  It’s a great reminder that God provides, even by using the small things I do.” — Brooklyn

“Slammin’ Famine provides our school with an opportunity to unite and serve.  It has brought us closer together and opened our eyes to the reality of some peoples sufferings.  It is always enlightening to see pictures of those in need so it is a privilege to be able to actually serve the people we see pictures of.  This year, I have learned that to have true revival, we must first be broken.  To hear stories of people in these third world countries both informs us of their brokenness and breaks our hearts.  Slammin’ Famine is a great opportunity to start a spark for a revival in our hearts and in the hearts of those we are serving.” — Ashley

“It was fun last year and I look forward to doing it again this year.  It gives me a feeling of self-worth to be able to help an organization that helps those in need.” — Branden

“We get to have fun and hang out with friends while serving.  The event makes serving enjoyable!  By helping others, we can help revive them physically and spiritually.  By serving others it will help us get revived and closer to God.” — Tiffany

“Slammin’ Famine is a fun and engaging way for our student body to interact, but also to help those in need.  We as a body have the opportunity to interact with all grades and grow closer as a unit.  More importantly, we get to further God’s kingdom by reaching out to those in need.  I think that serving people sparks something inside our school and gets us closer to a revival.” — Luke

“Slammin’ Famine is an exhilarating and fulfilling event where the student body gets to interact and unite with one another.  All the while, we get to help others in need.  This event assists our revival by opening our eyes to the struggles that exist in the world, and allows us to realize how fortunate we are.  Through Slammin’ Famine, the student body grows closer because there is no better way to begin friendships than having a mutual goal of helping others.” — Emily

Preschool through 12th grade joined together to raise money for FMSC with “Penny Wars.”  The classes competed, each trying to raise money through pennies and add negative points to other classes with dollars and silver coins.  The “Penny Wars” lasted seven days and raised a total of $822.48.  Truly amazing!  It was inspiring to see an event pushed out by our high school student council and carried all the way through tiny hands in preschool.  All ages working together toward the common goal of feeding God’s children hungry in both body and spirit.  A true revival in the life of our students and well as those receiving the MannaPacks.

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Keeping Kids Safe on the Internet

You may have noticed that lately it seems that kids are using gadgets younger and younger. Tablets are in everyone’s hands and cellphones grace the wish lists of children in elementary school. Teens communicate via a photo on Instagram and emojis on text, and every day someone comes up with the new “must have” app – Twitter, Snapchat, Whisper, YikYak, and the list goes on.

As a parent, how do you keep up with the ever-evolving list of what is safe and what isn’t? And how can you set up digital parameters that will keep your 10-year-old safe from certain sites, but allow your 16-year-old more freedom?

The first answer to those questions is to communicate. To set boundaries as a family, and to agree to honor those boundaries. But there are also tools you can utilize to assist you in protecting your children from the dark corners of the internet, because, as the memes say, what is seen cannot be unseen.

Enter a product from, of all companies, Disney. Circle Media has partnered with Disney to create a device that can help you keep your kids more accountable on the web: Circle with Disney ($99, available from meetcircle.com). Circle allows you to track where your kids are going, block sites you don’t want them to see, limit their screen time, and turn the internet off at night. It sets up easily by plugging into a power outlet (no wiring to your router necessary), and you can manage it from your smartphone.

And here is where Circle really shines: you can set up profiles for every member of your house, along with pre-set filter levels (pre-k, kid, teen, adult, or none). The Kid filter, for example, allows access to PBS and Club Penguin, while blocking YouTube. Teens get access to Instagram and Snapchat. And Circle can filter entire categories of sites, like online shopping and explicit content, and can also assign time limits to categories (like 30 minutes of YouTube or an hour of Minecraft). Circle also has an eight-hour battery life, so just unplugging it won’t set the house free from Circle’s limits.

Even more good news? Circle Go is due out later this year, and will be able to do the same thing with smartphones, even outside the home.

Teaching kids to make good choices definitely goes a long way when it comes to internet safety, but ensuring that not everything in the world that people put on the internet is delivered into your home is also another.

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Cleaning Closets

by Elizabeth Wright, ESL Teacher

“Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” ~John  15:2

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” ~1 Corinthians 13:12

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I stepped into my teaching office one Monday morning and nearly suffocated in a rack of billowy sleeves. I navigated around it, stepping over scattered props, and slumped my bags down on my desk.

“Hi,” came a muffled greeting from another rack. Stephanie, our drama director, curled herself around the costumes. “Sorry about the mess. I did make sure they didn’t leave anything on your desk.”

“Thanks.”

It wasn’t totally unexpected. Due to a lack of office space, I had taken up residence in the drama closet when I started teaching last year. It’s generally a hassle-free arrangement (plus I get window!), but twice a year, during production week, I’m forced to relax my organizational standards to include wigs and hairspray on top of my grading stack. Our students had finished their (excellent) performance of “The Music Man” the previous Saturday.

Not unexpected, but still stressful. Though there was a path to my desk Monday morning, the path disappeared frequently, occasionally just at the moment I needed to rush in and grab books for my next class. I reminded myself that I was glad Stephanie was sorting, stuffing, shelving. Someday soon it would be clean, even if I didn’t know when that day was.

Hearing a vacuum around noon that Wednesday, I avoided the office altogether, opting to plan whatever subjects I’d taken from the room earlier.

God’s pruning is also messy. When God decides to pry my heart away from money, friends, reputation, the process feels like using training wheels after a bike race.

Wednesday afternoon, I opened my office door and breathed a relaxing sigh. Stephanie had left shelves stacked neatly with labeled boxes, two costume racks along the side wall, and a thoroughly-vacuumed carpet. The office was cleaner than it had been since last fall. My heart swelled with gratitude and I silently kicked myself for having been frustrated.

Someday, I’ll have a perfectly organized, cleaned, radiant life. But until then, I’ll live in this God-ordained mess, because that’s his plan, and it’s worth it.

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Heritage Alum Says Following God is “Worth It”

by Joleen Steffen, Secondary Math Teacher

Recently, I had an email interview with a Heritage alumnus (Class of 1984) who is a friend of ours, and attended Heritage with my husband.  His post-high school education included a bachelor of arts in portraiture and business and a Master of Arts in World Christianity at Denver Seminary.  He and his wife then pursued full-time missions work in central Asia, Wales and are now in Thailand.  To protect himself and those he works with from being targeted, we will refer to him using his initials, “VN” and we have purposely not named the organization he works with.  

(JS) What is your calling/ministry? Where are the places you have ministered, and where are you currently ministering?

(VN) It is funny. You can use a lot of words to describe calling and ministry; but honestly, if you were to reduce what God has asked us to do down to it’s most simple form, it would be discipleship. Jesus said, “make disciples of all nations” and that is what we are all about. Now, because of the talents, gifts and passions God has placed in us, we work with musicians and other creative people so that they might be transformed by the power of God and begin to worship in a way that is distinctive of who they are in their own culture.

For us practically, following the call to make disciples meant living as a family thirteen years in one of the “-stans” of Central Asia where God began a move to follow “Isa” (Jesus) the Messiah among Muslim musicians. We lived among them, learned their language, studied their culture and music, taught them about the Bible, and then helped them as they began to grow as a church. Also, because translated Western songs were giving the impression that Christianity was Western, we challenged them to write and express their own worship to God in their own language and culture, and then opened a recording studio to record and distribute that worship.

After passing that ministry to the locals God asked us to follow his leading to Wales for five years where discipleship looked a bit different. Locally, the musicians God brought to us were Celtic folk musicians. And while we didn’t need to learn a different language to communicate, culturally and ideologically there was not the openness to God we saw in Central Asia. But in Wales God opened up another new avenue, the discipling and mentoring of younger missionaries who are starting ministries just as God had allowed us to do in Central Asia. Using Skype and transportation God opened up opportunities in the Far East, the Pacific Islands, the Middle East and Europe.

Now, we are continuing the discipleship of those young field workers, but God moved us to Thailand. Here, once again, we are also involved in learning a new language, culture, and religion (Buddhism) and waiting to see how God might open up doors to disciple worshippers within the creative community here.

(JS) Tell about your family.  What differences do they see in their view of the world versus those teens who were raised in the U.S.?

(VN) My wife and I have three children. A son and daughter who are both studying at a college in the US, and a fifteen year old daughter who is sophomore in high school at an international school in our city. Probably one of the biggest differences living in multiple countries  has developed in their world view is an openness and willingness to learn from other cultures as well as an awareness that every culture has both good and bad components…even our American culture.

(JS) What are some of the most important highlights you remember from your time at Heritage?  Academic, social, spiritual, or otherwise?

My children were looking (and laughing) through some of my old yearbooks when my youngest daughter exclaimed, “Were you some kind of jock?? You look like Troy Bolton in High School Musical!!”

I confess, I really did enjoy the excitement, challenge and fun of being involved in sports—especially basketball. But to this day the relationships I had with certain teachers and other students have been the lasting gifts. In fact, God used Mr. Schottleutner (my Bible teacher and later the school administrator) as a model for discipleship I still emulate as he invited some students to meet with him to read the Bible and pray before school one day a week. God used those mornings to change my spiritual life and direction.

(JS)  Right now, what message do Christian teens need to hear from someone who has ministered around the world?

No question…first of all, the stuff written in the Bible…It is all true! God is alive. He is still saving and transforming people. He is still setting people free. He is still doing miracles. He is still inviting individuals to drop their nets, to follow Him, and to find His purposes for their life.

I am not saying everyone should be a pastor or a missionary. What I am saying is that however awesome way God made you, that is how he can use you…wherever you are. But, we have to seek him and obediently follow him.

It is worth it.

(JS) And their parents?  How would you encourage and/or challenge them?  

None of us are perfect, I know this too well. But it seems what our kids need these days is normal, daily models of how to live lives of passionate follower-ship to Christ. We don’t need to be perfect to do that. We just need to be humble and willing to live lives of faith before and with our families.

Oh, and pray for God’s grace A LOT!  

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