Thursday, February 18, 2010

First Steps

Last night at church, Pastor Scott challenged us to be radical; to find out what God is calling us to do that will bring others to Him. Now, I've always known I was meant to work with teenagers. Originally, I thought maybe I was being called to be a youth pastor, but God's path lead me into teaching instead. I have had some amazing opportunities over the past year of teaching high school to work with teenagers, mostly inner-city or low socio-economic status, and represent God to them in that way. But after a lot of prayer last night and today, I feel that God is challenging me to do more---to become the change that we need to see in schools today and to represent Him through it all.

I will be using this blog to chronicle how I will "become the change."

First, though, a little background:
I am a December 2009 graduate of Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's degree in Adolescent/Young-Adult Education, specializing in Integrated Language Arts--basically, I'm licensed in the state of Ohio to teach 7th through 12th grade language arts. During my student teaching, I had the opportunity to participate in something called "Challenge Day" (see Challenge Day's website) which is a program put on at high school's throughout the nation challenging kids to become the change in their school. Their vision and mission statements are:
Our vision is that every child lives in a world where they feel safe, loved and celebrated. The Challenge Day mission is to provide youth and their communities with experiential programs that demonstrate the possibility of love and connection through the celebration of diversity, truth, and full expression.
As a teacher, I got to participate in the capacity of an adult leader during the 1-day program at Fostoria High School. It was incredible! I can not even begin to put into words how amazing this experience was! I saw kids who would never associate with one another work on breaking down barriers; I talked to kids that I thought had it all together and found out that there is so much more going on in their lives behind their smiles; I saw kids realize that they have more in common with one another than they thought and connect on a level that they never would have gotten to if they had not been in the Challenge Day program setting. It was one of the most incredibly emotional things that I have witnessed as a teacher, as kids experienced how to break down barriers, connect with one another, and become the change in the school that is so desperately needed. I realized immediately that this was something I wanted to be a part of on some level. What I am explaining here does not begin to do justice to the amazing ideas and practices that go on at Challenge Day, nor does it do justice to what this incredible program does every year across the country.

There are a lot of ways that I can get involved in Challenge Day. As a teacher, I can continue to act as an adult leader when Challenge Day comes to my school. There are workshops that I can attend about how to put into practice these principles and challenges for my students every day in my own classroom. I can volunteer to work at the offices in California (okay, that's a little far for me). But the capacity that I want to try is as a Challenge Day Leader. Every year, Challenge Day takes on new leaders who spend their year traveling across the country to different high schools presenting the Challenge Day program. Not only do they facilitate the program, but they commit to living out the Challenge Day principles in their lives on a daily basis, spreading the message of love for one another (hmm...also one of Christ's messages...).

They become the change to show others how to do the same.

I would love more than anything to become a Challenge Day leader and spread this message to high schools, showing God's love through my work with the program. I realize that maybe this is not the extreme that God has planned for me, and I totally accept that. So I'm going to keep praying, while at the same time begin to take the first steps towards becoming a leader. God may call me to a permanent teaching position or something else in the mean time, and if that is the case then He's got plans for be to be the change in that way and I will follow His path. In the meant time, I will continue to start to look into becoming a leader while also work constantly on becoming the change in my own community in Northwest Ohio.

Being a leader takes a lot. First of all, you need to attend as many local Challenge Days as possible. Then, there is attending one of the workshops. Finally, there is an application process to go through. Applications are accepted once a year, in early February. Since I have missed this past year's application deadline, and I have a lot a preparation to do like attending the workshop and the various Challenge Days in the area, so I will spend the year doing two things:
1. Becoming the change as much as I can in the area that I am at now, and doing what I can to become the change in my own community.
2. Attend a workshop and different Challenge Days

This blog is to keep me accountable to becoming the change in my community and being radical for God, and to record my journey towards either becoming a Challenge Day leader or whatever else God has in store for me.

I'm asking that you agree with me in prayer as I go on this journey, and that you follow my story to keep me strong with encouragement and love.

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