For some time we have wanted to connect with the local high school. We had a talented and outgoing intern, but our prayers and efforts did not open those doors for high school ministry. Five years later, my youngest daughter now attends this high school.
One day she brought home a note from school. Because of the emphasis on native culture awareness, the school was going to host a smudging ceremony by an indigenous leader. Students were given the choice of observing or participating. I checked the box that my daughter would only observe. In frustration, I also wrote my view of the activity. I explained that a smudging ceremony is more than a cultural event – it is a religious ritual. If the school was willing to allow religious activities, I volunteered to come to the school and do one as well. My handwriting covered the form.
Later I had second thoughts, but I had already sent the note with my daughter.
A short time later I received a call from the school. With some apprehension, I answered the call. The principal introduced herself and explained that the vice principal was with her. I felt like a kid in the principal’s office, awaiting correction!
“We received your note, and we’d like to invite you to come to the school and give a presentation,” she said.
“Okay,” I replied. In that moment I couldn’t think of what to say next, and I’m rarely speechless!
“Why don’t you look at your calendar and call me back with a potential date and time,” the principal suggested. “We need at least a week to make arrangements and send a note to parents.”
Once we agreed on a date, I started feeling nervous. What an opportunity!
Taking Advantage of the High School Ministry Opportunity
We scheduled students in several groups that day. The first group was junior high students; the school has about 60 students that age. I introduced myself as pastor Mark to the fifteen students who attended. I told them the story of David standing up to Goliath and defeating him. I tried to be engaging, and I acted out some of the events. I ended with the application: “God is real. He desires a relationship with you and wants to be involved in your life. When you face giants – when hard things come – call out to God.”
Soon the recess bell rang, the students left, and I took a deep breath.
After recess, I was stunned to see nearly 50 elementary kids come in, almost the entire elementary enrollment. Some of them participate in our church’s Kids Club. “Pastor Mark!” they said as they hugged me. The teachers, teachers’ aides, principal and vice-principal came, too.
I started with two songs that we sing in Kids Club. I invited some kids to show us the actions and help us sing. I told the story of David and Goliath again and gave them the same application. We had 3 minutes left, so I suggested we sing one of the songs again. I told them to vote by cheering when I held up the song posters. The kids cheered loudly for both. Then one of the teachers said, “Let’s sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ again.”
She came up to hold the poster. As we sang, the kids’ voices filled the whole school. And then I realized I was hearing more than these kids. I was overwhelmed! I had what I call “Holy Spirit goosebumps” because I knew the Spirit of God was present and working.
After everyone left, I sat down and thought, “Wow. That was a miracle.”
As I left the school, the principal and vice-principal thanked me. “Maybe I should come back this fall,” I said.
“We’d love to have you come again,” they replied.
For years we had prayed. And when the timing was right, God didn’t just open a window of opportunity – he kicked open the double doors of that school!
Would you take a moment to pray for your local school? If the doors are closed now, that somehow God would open them? If they are open a bit, ask God to help you see further ways to engage and help the staff who teach and care for the community’s children.
The opportunities may look different. Pastor Mark was invited to speak, but don’t overlook the ministry of presence. Several Village Missionaries occasionally drive school buses as substitute drivers. Others coach a sport or assist the coach. One missionary wife helped create the yearbook for their local school, so she met all the high-school students. Pray and expect God to answer when the time is right!
Mark Bueckert grew up in the Village Missions church at Rose Prairie, Upper Pine Gospel Chapel. He and Rebecca have been married for 22 years and have served with Village Missions for 22 years. They have 4 children. Since 2007 they have served in Ryley, Alberta.