Almost one year ago, I wrote a blog post on my trip to Greater Los Angeles to check out Christian colleges with my daughter. This year for spring break, my wife, Sharon and I took our two younger kids back to LA to visit our older daughter who has settled in to Providence Christian College in Pasadena.
Providence has an interesting story to tell in its short 12 years of existence, but what strikes me is how they are trying to do something similar to what we are doing at ACS, just at a college level. One example is in the area of experiential and service learning. The folks at Providence have adopted the Hebrew word, Avodah, which loosely translates to a combination of the words we use for work/service and worship/service.
Worshipping at the Rose Bowl
What an awesome idea! Trust God’s ancient people to understand how closely tied the ideas of work and worship should be by making them into one word. At Providence, students are required to complete at least two Avodah experiences each semester. For one of her Avodahs, my daughter chose to go to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. While there, students learned of the Rose Bowl’s history, its current uses, how the facility is maintained, and then spent time cleaning some of the surrounding park areas. Work, service, and worship.
Our middle school service learning program is similar. Students head out into the greater Abbotsford community to serve and work, and in so doing, they worship our Lord. Once every three weeks, each one of our students spends an afternoon serving at one of several locations. We have students working/serving/worshipping at one inner-city public school, four different seniors homes, three different thrift stores, the food bank, and at a local park.
This is our third year of this service-learning program. Interestingly enough, we are beginning to see “service fatigue” from our students for the first time.
I see this as a good thing.
Up until now, there has been a sense that many students see serving as just about fun and a chance to get away from the classroom. Now, students are seeing and experiencing that service is work and it requires perseverance. Above all, our students have really begun to understand that service is not about self, but rather serving others and in that, serving their Lord.
I don’t want to be a copy-cat, but I do love the idea of the word Avodah, and I think it just may become something we use in a chapel here in middle school in the future, as our students continue to see their work and service as worship.