Why would you choose to finance your own ticket and raise money for a project that you will never receive any personal gain? I have enjoyed taking Year 11 students on service trips to an Adventist school in Fiji. Students, staff and parents who went made a huge difference. But the biggest difference was not what they did or contributed. It was the difference that the service trip made to each one of them personally.
As one student, Dan, said, “The trip to Fiji was mind-blowing! Just to see how little the people have but how happy they are. It just makes you realise that you have nothing to complain about.” Another student, Sharon, said, “They thanked us, saying we had worked as God’s hands and feet and given them so much. It was then I realized that they gave us more than anything we could give them. They really touched our hearts.”
Students developed friendships, sharing ideas and growing together spiritually as they worshipped together. They worked together, learned new skills, tried new foods, and learned about different ways of living.
How would you like to spend your Saturday night painting a ceiling with a bunch of teen-agers from Australia and Fiji? Picture Fijian students balanced precariously on three tables as they reached beyond the limits of the handles to paint the ceiling, all done in the spirit of giving. And there’s immense satisfaction in seeing the dramatic change at the end of the project.
But service does not have to be overseas or to exotic locations. This year we have taken our primary classes to local retirement residences and they have sung songs and enjoyed interacting with the senior citizens. The Kindergarten and Year One class raised money for chickens for families in Vietnam through ADRA. Our high school students cleaned up yards, mowed lawns, ran the games for a community fun day and served as waiters and waitresses at an Art expo high tea.
Adventist education emphasises an others-focus because we believe we need to contribute. The ValueGenesis study of Adventist youth found the most important predictor of mature faith was a scale labelled Value of Service. As Ellen White noted, “Above any other agency, service for Christ’s sake in the little things of everyday experience has power to mould the character and to direct the life into lines of unselfish service.”
Going out and doing something for someone else is addictive. The students who went to Fiji would love to do it again. Service for others is positive and life changing. When was the last time you consciously stopped and took the time to step outside your comfort zone and help somebody you did not have to, or encouraged your students to do so? Look for ways to serve today. It could be the beginning of a journey that leads to the trip of your lifetime too.
This article is the sixth in a series of ten articles on the unique characteristics of Adventist education. Another article in the series will be published every other Thursday. To view all articles in this series, along with other articles by this author, click here: Articles by David McClintock.
Note: Article written and posted in Australian English.