VISION 4 LIFE
School Highlight : Concordia Academy High School
Author, Jaime Kokaisel
published, May 10th 2022
Each one of us holds a profound superpower: the power to GIVE. When we make that choice to help someone in need, we become better than we once were. We become greater than just one individual acting alone because the giver and the receiver both benefit. Jesus knows how powerful giving is for us, which is why he teaches us to “Love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12. It can be life- transforming to be part of the positive impact our gift has on another human being, and because of this, we want to give more. Giving grows. It spreads from person to person, building strength from places of weakness within ourself and within our community.
Giving is THAT powerful.
No matter how little or how much we own, each person has the ability to give of themself to another. We can give through our TIME. We can give through our unique TALENT. We can give our ATTENTION. We can give through PUBLIC SERVICE to our City, State or Country. We can give through our FINANCES, food DONATIONS, and clothing CONTRIBUTIONS. We can simply give a SMILE to a stranger at the grocery store, or we can give a couple hours providing resources to the POOR. We can help FEED A CHILD right here in our community, or we can help offer protection, health and education by SPONSORING A CHILD in Bangladesh.
Concordia Academy, a Christian high school, is located in Roseville, MN, drawing students who come from the cities of Saint Paul, Minneapolis, and surrounding suburbs.
Concordia began an outreach program 15 years ago through what they call “Vision4Life.” This is a 3-day intensive experience during which students and teachers spend one day serving a “wide variety of service projects throughout the metro area,” says CA’s V4L webpage (See link at end). The second day is spent in fellowship with their small group, and a spiritual leader is invited to talk. The men discuss what it means to be a Man of God while and the women explore what it means to be a Godly Woman in today’s society. Then the entire student body comes together on the third day to share and reflect on their V4L experiences.
Pillar 1: Community Service
Pillar 2: Personal Spiritual Growth
Pillar 3: Small Group Fellowship
Jodi Meerovich with MSS wrote to CA,
“I wanted to send a HUGE thank you to all of you and the students who came to MSS these last 2 days. I received nothing but positive feedback from staff and site directors. Your students were kind and respectful of the people in our program, and (they) seemed to be willing to do anything we needed. Your group is a real class act, and it’s a true pleasure hosting them. I hope there will be more opportunities to engage, and if any of your students are interested in ongoing volunteer opportunities … we would be thrilled to welcome them back. Thank you to all!” February 2020
I personally had the opportunity to participate in Vision4Life this year (for my first time) during the women’s service day. I drove a group of girls, and I served alongside this one group of students and teachers at “Feed my Starving Children” in Coon Rapids. After lunch (and an ice cream treat), we helped at “Bridging” in Roseville for the afternoon.
The next day it was time for the men to serve and the women to stay on campus participating in seminars, small group discussions, and other experiences. Program Coordinator Rebecca Fritz says “Personal spiritual growth is encouraged as we take time to stop, set aside the business of academics, and sit at the feet of a spiritual mentor and teacher. Every year, Concordia brings in one leader for the boys and one for the girls, charged with teaching Scripture and encouraging us all to take the next step of growth in faith.” Rebecca goes on to say, “Our vision for this aspect of the program is that students learn the value of pursuing continual faith growth by pausing in their daily routines to seek out solid Biblical teaching throughout their lives.” (CA blog post, February 27th, 2019. See link at end).
Melanie LaPointe with CES wrote to CA February 2020,
“I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to the group that came today, but they were awesome. We needed help with some really heavy projects in order to get ready for MN Food Share, and they were a tremendous help. Please let them know how much we appreciate their enthusiasm and muscles! They helped out in the food shelf, food inventory, Home Delivery stocking, Ani-Meals food packing, storage and Meals on Wheels. They can come back anytime.”
Marge Avoles with Jehovah Church wrote, “Both groups took time to sing in the Sanctuary because they recognized the excellent acoustics … We were inspired by their unflagging hard work and the fun and energy they brought to the projects each day.” February 2020
“This opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus and grow in faith is a highlight of the year for many of our students and teachers.” Concordia V4L webpage
“Vision4Life” represents Concordia Academy’s vision to grow Lifelong Learners in Christ. The program expands on what they learn every day in the classroom. 4 core values are extended out into the community and lived out in V4L’s hands-on approach, LEARNING THROUGH LIVING, AND LIVING THROUGH LEARNING. Concordia Academy’s 4 Core Values are :
- Honor God in All That We Do (1 Corinthians 10:31; Mark 12:30)
- Love and Serve Students and Families (Ephesians 6:4; Psalm 78:1-4)
- Live, Work and Play in Christian Community (Romans 12:10-16; Corinthians 12:26)
- Become Better Than We Once Were (Colossians 3:23)
Concordia Student comments, 2022
“I liked the service day at the Thrift Store and just the conversations we had with the people there and learning about their project and how it is more than a thrift store.”
“It was insightful to go to Bridging and see what life is like for people in our area.”
“I liked the camaraderie of our group and how we all came together and worked for a good cause.”
“It was really cool hearing the testimonies of the women at Metro Hope.”
“My takeaway from V4L was the before and after from serving. When we showed up they had a huge list of to-do’s, and by the time we were done they were searching for things for us to do. It was great to see how much we did.”
“It was amazing, seeing how people were impacted by the program because it made it feel like the small jobs had big impacts.”
From Natural Disaster to Beginning the Vision
Concordia Academy’s Vision4Life began in 2007, at a time when Southeastern Minnesota was devastated by flooding. Principal Rev. Dr. Timothy Berner organized a school wide relief effort, along with Chapel Director and Theology Teacher Dean Dunavan. Together, they responded to the immediate needs of Stockton, MN by busing Concordia students down for an entire day of clean-up.
Meeting this community in need was so meaningful to both the town and the students, that Concordia Academy decided to develop a regular program around serving their community every year. Through the nature of this organic beginning, Dean Dunavan went on to coordinate future V4L programing over the next 12 years. Rebecca Fritz is now the Program Coordinator, and between Dean, Principal Berner, Rebecca and countless more CA faculty, it has developed into the amazing program it is today.
With the pandemic in 2021, Concordia Academy improvised on V4L by putting their entire school effort into supporting “Feed My Starving Children.” Their students packed meal kits at all three locations in addition to raising over $11,000 for the organization.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. -1 Peter 4:10 NIV
students in Vision4Life serving throughout the metro area
Bethel Lutheran Church is a congregation of the Lutheran Chruch – Missouri Synod. “We commit to live this blessed life of discipleship together as a congregation according to the pattern established by the first Christian church (Acts 2:42-47).” https://www.bethelstpaul.com/
Breaking Free is the only survivor-led emergency shelter for victims of sex trafficking and prostitution in Minnesota. They empower survivors “to build new lives through safe housing, direct services, effective healing programs, survivor advocacy, worldwide policy change, and hope.” https://www.breakingfree.net/home
Bridging serves more than 4,000 households per year, and over half of them are children. “Bridging provides donated furniture and household goods to families and individuals transitioning out of homelessness and poverty.” https://www.bridging.org/
“From Hunger to Hope … Rooted in God’s loving grace, Community Emergency Service transforms lives by serving neighbors, sharing resources, and becoming a community.” https://www.cesmn.org/
“Today, Habitat affiliates work in more that 1,400 communities and 70 countries … Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity is committed to building the quality of life, health, and economic prosperity of the seven-county metro region by producing, preserving, and advocating for affordable home ownership – because homes and families are the foundation of successful communities.” https://www.tchabitat.org/
“We are a residential, Christ-centered, drug and alcohol recovery program serving mothers and their children, women, and men in the Minneapolis area … Many of our residents are at the end of their options. Most have exhausted their support systems, lost their homes, and are unable to support themselves or their families.” https://www.metrohope.org/
The mission of MN Teen Challenge is to “assist men, women and teens in gaining freedom from chemical addictions and other life-controlling problems by addressing their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.” https://www.mntc.org/
Midwest Special Services was originally known for providing support to children with Cerebral Palsy, but over time they began serving people with a wide range of disabilities. Their mission is to “support people with disabilities as vital and contributing members of our community.” https://www.mssmn.org/
At New Day Thrift Store, “all proceeds support pro-life services at Christian Life Ministries and New Day Pregnancy and Family Resource Center … The thrift store is an extension of our mission to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ by providing affordable items to the community as well as to the families with young children we serve at the center.” https://www.newdaythriftstore.org/
“The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.” https://www.centralusa.salvationarmy.org/twin-cities/
Trinity First School is “a high-quality educational center for children, their families, and our community. We will strive to support and encourage learners to become productive citizens of our country here on earth, and ultimately fellow citizens of Heaven!” https://www.trinityfirstschool.org/
Union Gospel Mission offers hope to those experiencing homelessness, poverty, and addiction in our community. “When we work together, hungry people are fed, homeless people are sheltered, and hurting people are given the tools to change their lives.” https://www.ugmtc.org/
“Urban Homeworks catalyzes powerful people, using equitable housing as a platform to build community and create social change. We use housing as a platform to inspire people in becoming change agents… The mission of Urban Homeworks is to perpetuate the hope of Jesus Christ through innovative community development.” https://www.urbanhomeworks.org/
In the darkness, we are drawn to the light. For me, this has never been more relevant than it is today.
Writers throughout history have recorded human suffering. Out of one tragedy though is born countless a hero. Just as light is best seen in the dark, so are the righteous seen among the evil. GIVING IS POWERFUL.
From what I can see
Concordia Academy is a Beacon of God’s Good Light.
by JAiME for SCHOOLS May 10th, 2022
Concordia Academy’s V4L webpage: https://www.concordiaacademy.com/academics/vision4life.cfm
Concordia Academy Blog Post 2017 : https://www.concordiaacademy.com/blog/visionforlife/?fromsearch=1#detailid_278292