Spiritual Emphasis Week (SEW) with Coastlands Consultants has been the highlight of every school year at Penobscot Christian School since 2002. Any Christian school that takes students on a retreat or that sends students to conferences or that encourages students to attend Bible camps during summer vacations knows that their young people often experience a renewal of faith and determination to live out their Christianity more fully. While schools benefit from such experiences, it is even better to have the conference or retreat or camp experience come to the school, since that provides immediate integration of faith and life at the school.
It has been said “every week should be Spiritual Emphasis Week in a Christian school.” Indeed, we can see throughout the Scriptures that “everyday life” cannot be separated from “spiritual life.” The life we live in the body we live by faith in the Son of God, so in one sense every week we live should be “spiritual emphasis week.” However, because we are not yet completely free from the effects on sin, we know, too, that our fervor for Jesus Christ ebbs and flows. Therefore, setting aside time for a special “Spiritual Emphasis Week” is an excellent way to be recharged for our service to one another in our Christian schools. Coastlands is an important tool God uses to do this.
Coastlands Consultants brings on-site mentoring teams to the Christian school, leading and teaching how to be part of an Army—not an audience—for the Lord. The fruit of their labors can be immediately evident, as young people rise to the challenge to lead and to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. The partnership that Coastlands offers to a school staff shows the students that their teachers and their Coastlands mentors share the same goal: Training Christian youth to serve the Lord. Furthermore, this partnership benefits the staff at the school by supporting and mentoring them, too.
Our students take such an interest in having SEW every year that they do a summer Read-a-thon to make sure we can afford it. The children ask their parents, relatives and neighbors to sponsor them per book they read. Then, the moment summer vacation begins, the students can begin reading. They must read at their level, and they must keep track of the books they read. The moment summer vacation ends is when the reading time ends. For the next two weeks the children collect the money pledged to them, and then they turn it in, with their reading list, for tallying the totals. Prizes are awarded to the top three readers in number of books and in money raised. The class that, by percentage, raises the most money gets to have lunch with the Coastlands mentors one day during SEW. The style or menu for that lunch is determined by the winning class and is paid for out of the Read-a-thon proceeds. The winning class this year had a picnic, complete with hot dogs, potato salad, chips, brownies and drinks. In lieu of eating outside (it was early March and the weather was frigid), the children’s desks were pushed aside and red-and-white-checkered tablecloths were laid on the floor for the meal. Our little school, with about 60 potential readers last summer, raised over $2,400 for Coastlands’ 2007 visit. That enabled us to pay the Coastlands fee, and then we divided the remaining funds equally for the mentors, giving each one a check as a love gift to spend as they wanted.
Finally, the academic time spent instead on Spiritual Emphasis Week activities is not lost time. I have seen the change in the lives of our students, how the grace of God has grabbed their lives and turned them around as a result of the mentoring received during Spiritual Emphasis Week. I have seen young men and young women begin to realize that what they say they believe must also be evident in how they live. It impacts positively their attitudes toward their teachers, their studies, and one another. It is the integration of faith and life that Coastlands emphasizes with our students that week that they are here, and no amount of academic time can replace or replicate the work that God does through these mentors. If we really believe that our students need to be equipped with the gospel for their lives, then this time is well spent!
I was once a skeptic of the value of the on-site mentoring provided by Coastlands Consultants, but not anymore! The work they do is invaluable to my staff, my students, and to me. You are welcome to contact me if you would like more information. I can be reached most easily by e-mail, at email@example.com. Feel free, too, to visit our website, www.penobscotchristian.org, to see pictures of Coastlands Consultants’ service at our school. Thank you.
Bill MacDonald – Headmaster