Partnering with parents to develop the Christian character of their children is a principle goal and responsibility of the staff and faculty of Immanuel Christian School. The Character-in-Action program facilitates the realization of that goal by working with teachers and parents to integrate Christ-like values and activities in the classroom and providing service opportunities outside the walls of ICS.
WHY WE SERVE
At the center of each service opportunity is our conviction that God calls us to be “doers of the word and not hearers only.” This is the message of Jesus’ parable about the wise builder and the foolish builder in Matthew 7:24-27. One built his house on the rock and it withstood the wind and the storm. The other built his house on sand, which resulted in disastrous consequences. But what was the firm foundation Jesus was talking about? What is the secret to successful spiritual formation and Christian maturity? Jesus said the wise builder was a “doer of the word.” He didn’t just listen to the truth and ignore it; he put it into action. This is what community service opportunities are all about; exercising the muscles of Christian character, not only by listening to the truth, but also by living the truth.
Each homeroom class adopts two character traits which are the focal point of age-appropriate classroom activities and service opportunities. For example, one of the fifth grade character traits is diligence; this trait is worked out in diligent prayer on behalf of local police and first responders. This relationship with local officials is also an example of an important aspect of Character-in-Action (CIA) – class service activities. Each grade level is involved in meaningful interaction with adults or other children in the community. The second grade makes regular visits to residents at a local assisted living community, bringing joy and friendship to the elderly residents. Students in seventh grade make regular Book Buddy visits to first grade classes at a local Fairfax County public school, and eighth grade students volunteer at Access Ministry in McLean to interact with children with developmental disabilities.
Serve-A-Thon is the annual kick-off event for Character-In-Action, our school-wide program which strives to develop Christ-likeness in each of our students, and takes place in October. We believe active participation in service is a critical part of our students’ learning experience. Serve-A-Thon seeks to meet needs in our community while offering students tangible ways to express the lessons learned in the classroom. Each year since 2005 our students have been involved in a variety of community service activities, including planting trees in local parks, picking up trash around our immediate area, assisting at a local food bank and washing fire trucks and ambulances. Our Middle School students join students in a D.C. public school to build relationships by serving together to package humanitarian supplies for one of our partner schools overseas.
The service projects are a meaningful way to help our children invest in the lives of others through service. It is a very real extension of the living curriculum embraced by the families of our school.
Serve-A-Thon is the only fundraising activity in which our students seek sponsored donations. Each year, our sponsors are very excited to see our desire to help others and meet real needs within the community. In addition, our school board has made the commitment to give 10% of a portion of what we raise through Serve-A-Thon each year to help our three sister-schools in Romania, Rwanda and India. What a privilege to be able to raise money for ICS while doing the things that are central to our purpose as a Christian school.
When our students are involved in these volunteer activities, they are serving in a way that extends our living curriculum beyond our own walls. What we are talking about is putting our faith into action, being doers of the Word and not just hearers; serving others, not just ourselves.
Every year, we look forward to all that God will do in the life of our school through Christian service, not only in terms of the money that will be raised, but also in the lives that will be changed. Our clear challenge from God’s Word is to be doers of the Word and not just hearers (James 1:22-25). It is a promise that those who hear the truth and live the truth build their lives on a firm foundation for the future (Matthew 7:24-27). Serve-A-Thon is a great way for us to start the year building on that foundation.