The Senior Service Practicum has been a capstone of the Cary Christian School experience since 2005. Our desire is to give students an opportunity to step outside of their comfort zones, experience other cultures, serve others, and witness the body of Christ at work in our world. In the past, we have partnered with Churches in Missions in Costa Rica, the International Mission Board in San Diego, California, and, most recently, several Christian organizations in Newport, Tennessee. Each year, our students get to see themselves and each other in a new light. The trip opens their eyes to both the needs of the world and to our own need to love one another right here at school.
As our students, chaperones, and leaders experience this trip each year, it is remarkable to see the students’ maturity, love for one another, and desire to see Christ’s name proclaimed through word and deed. In this article, seniors Sarah Perkins and Justin Voight give us an inside look into what seniors experienced on their trip this year.
What is the value of the Senior Service Practicum?
Sarah: The SSP trip is one of many unique opportunities that CCS has to offer. I am one of a handful of students who started at CCS in kindergarten. Growing up and receiving an education in a Christian school definitely has more benefits than I can count. But, as I grew up, I became numb to seeing Christ every day. Sometimes it is easy for us to get caught only going through the motions and not actively seeking out to be servants of Christ while we are here on earth. That is what SSP brings to the table. It opens our eyes to how God is at work every single day. It allows the seniors to see poverty and people struggling and to have a heart that reaches out to those people and then be able to reflect on the goodness of God and how he moves through us. This trip was so extremely special and one I’m sure none of us will forget.
How were you able to serve others on this year’s trip?
Justin: As soon as my class and I arrived in Newport, God’s presence could be felt, and I knew personally that this week was going to be something special. The first day of helping the community around us consisted of various jobs, and every one of them impacted someone in need. My group and I went to a crisis pregnancy center and put up plywood and a new frame to create a closed area for an ultrasound machine. In the remaining days, there were new skills to be learned and fun activities for all the seniors to do. Each day there was a new task that required all the students to work together to make a lasting impact on this community in Tennessee.
Sarah: While In the midst of a pandemic, God still used us to further his kingdom on Earth, even if it wasn’t the trip we had expected. Throughout the week, the seniors were able to provide Thanksgiving meals to foster families, help clean up at a pregnancy crisis center, take part in yard work at the camp we were hosted at, help at a soup kitchen, and build bunk beds for campers. There were also several more projects we helped with. You may realize that among these activities we were not able to directly share the gospel through words as we may have hoped. But our story is much bigger. We were able to provide for people, care for them, and touch their hearts indirectly through our work. Nowadays work is portrayed as mundane, hard, and not enjoyable. In the Bible, Christ teaches us to love our work because it glorifies him when we do our best. And in doing this, he will bless our efforts. This is exactly what we did. We put forth our best efforts and we let Christ change people’s hearts through our hard work.
How did you and your classmates grow on this year’s trip?
Justin: Not only were we impacting others through God’s love, but the number of students who built new relationships and skills was amazing to see. I can personally say I became friends with people I never thought I would even be able to have a conversation with. Whether it was standing up and saying something positive about someone on the hot seat, or the late-night talks in the cabins, we felt God’s presence. Each and every one of my classmates revealed their love and strength and showed how amazing a relationship with Christ truly is. I’m so honored I can be a part of the class of 2021 and witness the amazing friendships built on this trip.
Sarah: On one of the days, we had a quiet time where everyone went to a separate space and spent time reflecting on the week and how the Holy Spirit moved. During my quiet time I realized how easy it is for us to get caught going through the same motions of a “Christian” life. Often it is boring, and to be honest, most of the time we don’t really look closely into how Christ is working or how the Holy Spirit is prompting us. However, during the week of SSP, we were able to reflect and see how Christ was working every single day. This brought all of us closer as classmates and it brought us closer to Christ. It is amazing how if you look for God in everything, He is there. He is there and he is not silent. This gives us a new sense of joy going through each day.
What would you like other CCS students and families to know about the Senior Service Practicum?
Justin: For younger classes who will go on this trip in the years to come, please do not wait until senior year to build relationships with all your classmates and grow closer to God as a class. This trip has shown our entire class how amazing God’s plan is and how the love of Christ is something powerful.
Sarah: Even though we may not have saved nonbelievers directly, we touched people’s hearts indirectly. SSP allowed us to break the habit of just going through the motions every day. We enjoyed experiencing true joy in helping others, being in fellowship with one another, and working hard. I am so excited to continue building relationships after the trip. If there is one thing that I hope people take away from looking at our trip, it is that God does not fail to work under bad circumstances. He is present, he is working, he is moving, He is whispering every day. Pay attention, be ready, willing, and able to see him and do his work every day.