Core Value: Christian Principles

This story was first published in the Winter 2011 issue of the Sunshine magazine.

 Core Value: Christian Principles

The Christian faith serves as the foundation for the mission and core values at Methodist Children’s Home.

To help youth develop an understanding of God’s love and grow in their faith, the religious education program provides worship, discipleship activities, camps and mission trips for youth. In addition, staff members throughout the ministry model principles of the Christian faith to the youth they serve.

In recent years, MCH established a partnership with the Perkins Youth School of Theology (PYST) at Southern Methodist University that enables youth to pursue advanced study in the Christian faith and theology.

“We offer this opportunity for youth who want to gain a deeper understanding of God, their own spiritual journey and what it means to live as a Christian,” said Kim Hammitt, director of religious education.

The SMU program equips high school students with skills for vocational discernment and critical theological reflection about their faith and society. Participants attend a three-week summer academy, contribute to community service projects, and maintain a relationship with a mentor.

In recent years, the summer academy has taken place at a camp near Palestine in East Texas. This environment provides a relaxed atmosphere where youth develop a sense of community through team-building exercises.

Josh and Simona, residents on the Waco campus, have been involved in PYST for two years. Although it is an intensive academic program taught by seminary professors, they believe the work is worth the effort.

“My relationship to God is so much closer after attending the academy,” Simona said. “The professors challenged me so much and made me question what I believe and why I believe it.”

Simona admits that making the transition to the academy was difficult. “We were put on a ‘technology fast’ at first, and it was hard to adjust to,” she said.

“We were encouraged to spend time with one another instead of staying on our cell phones or watching television. In the process, we learned a lot and grew closer together.”

While the youth bonded as a family, they also studied the Bible and read lengthy passages of Scripture at night.

“It was a lot like studying theology in college, and the professors really helped us learn,” Simona said.

Josh and Simona agree the experience with PYST impacted their lives.

“It caused me to explore my faith, and it challenged me,” Josh said. “I have a deeper understanding of what it means to be a Christian, and I have a closer relationship with God.”

Each year, MCH residents who participate in the program share their insights with their peers as a way to generate interest in the PYST. Josh understands the important role he and Simona play in helping other youth learn about the program.

“A former resident told us that the effort we invest in the program will determine what we get out of it,” Josh said. “It’s a lot of work, but we continue to send that same message to others.”

As Josh and Simona live out the principles of the Christian faith, they are shining examples of the way MCH youth fulfill this core value in their lives. They are confident they will draw from the lessons they learned and the values they developed at the Home as they grow in their relationship with God.

“I don’t know what God has planned for me,” Josh said, “but I’m willing to go where He leads me.”

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