Over the past 13 years, there is one program that affected the direction and spiritual climate of Indian Rocks Christian School more than any other, our Ministry-mester. The battle for the hearts and lives of students has become increasingly more challenging, even in the Christian school. In addition to the normal problems students face, we are now fighting against a new generation of apathy and affluence. Teens growing up in the United States have everything for which they could ask, as well as many things for which they do not ask. Most have never had to learn to depend on God for their needs. To reach these students they need to be put into a position where they are open and ready to listen to whatever God wants to teach them. We have to find a way to get them to look beyond themselves. That is the reason that we started the Ministry-mester. Our Ministry-mester takes place the week before Spring break. We suspend normal high school classes for that week with the goal of involving our students in the area of missions or service. The projects consist of mission trips and local service opportunities.
Mission trips allow students a unique experience that tends to be outside of their “comfort zone”. We have targeted three specific areas that a mission trip will affect:
1.) It transforms and expands a student’s worldview as it exposes them to new thoughts, ideas, and appreciations for the world in which we live.
2.) It transposes preexisting social barriers. Student travel puts unique groups of people together for a specific event, creating new friend clusters and relationships.
3.) It transcends our normal ability to impact a student for Christ. Students that travel develop an openness and vulnerability that if acted upon, can be life changing. Each trip leader is asked to implement regularly scheduled devotional times. These times reveal God’s Truth to the student, help them assimilate all they have seen and experienced, as well as grasp how God is the “Artist” of the big picture.
An additional unexpected benefit that we had not originally realized is that in our global society, student travel abroad is a definite resume enhancer in gaining acceptance to college. Through our Ministry-mester and our Summer Europe program, students have eight international travel opportunities in their high school years at Indian Rocks. Over the past 13 years we have had students in 44 different countries. This includes 2143 students and adults on mission trips as well as 474 on Summer Europe trips for a total of 2617 international travelers.
*This Monday, September 8, is our Mission Trip Premier Night.* High School students and their parents are all invited to meet in the gym at 7:00 pm for instructions. They will then have three opportunities to hear presentations on the mission trips that will be offered this year. Teachers / trip leaders will be in their individual classrooms to do the presentations and answer questions. Each session is 15 minutes. For the rest of the week, we ask that students prayerfully consider which trip they think the Lord would have them to go on. Then on Friday, September 12th, we begin to accept applications.
Overnight trip choices this year include: Tampa (girls only), Alabama, Inner-city New York, Jamaica, Honduras, Cuba (baseball team only), El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. Local options include Pinellas County Clean-up, Shepherd’s Village (girls only), or being a Teacher’s Aide. Students are also able to select their own community service option for the week as long as they have received administrative approval. In addition to these opportunities, Mrs. Bates offers a College Visit trip during the Ministry-mester week or students may choose to do an internship with a professional. It is important to note that these latter two options are not eligible to earn service learning hours. Click here to view the 2015 Ministry-Mester Opportunities Catalog.
A student’s future is shaped by the places they go, books they read, and people they meet. Our missions program directly impacts two of these three areas and has greatly influenced our students’ spiritual, educational, and emotional growth.