Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. - 1 John 3:18
Wednesday, March 14, 2018 marked one month from the senseless school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida. If you have been following the news, students in schools all over the country were joining together in remembrance of the event in a planned 17-minute walkout... many schools except ours. A group of students at Mount Paran Christian School decided to do something more — to not just walk OUTside... but to look INside.
Student Response to Senseless Tragedy
In the weeks leading up to March 14, a small group of MPCS high school students began a conversation that turned into a movement. They asked the question, “How can we honor these 17 lives and engage in meaningful conversation — with more than just a walkout?”
And so began the #love17challenge.
The challenge was created to motivate students to do more than just talk about change, but to be the change. This past Wednesday, a group of 17 students took the floor in chapel, one for each life lost in Florida, and shared a verse of scripture- verses on love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other. - 1 Thessalonians 3:12
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you. - Ephesians 4:32
Hate stirs up trouble, but love forgives all offenses. - Proverbs 10:12
Getting to the Heart Issue
By following the command of Scripture in John 13 to “Love one Another,” these students have challenged their friends and family to begin to actively reach out to others. Not just to those they know or look like, but to all people and peers — to celebrate them, encourage them, and LOVE them.
They challenged each student to begin to look around to see the people God has placed in their lives and leverage their influence to make a difference. Using social media, the students have been challenged to identify people in their lives, people they see everyday that they don’t really know, and intentionally connect with them. They are challenged to stop their day, even if for just a moment, to talk, to encourage, to learn, to listen. They are challenged to actively meet someone new, and maybe even make a new friend. Mostly, they are to be intentional to make every person feel important... noticed... valued... loved. And when they do, they are challenged to take a picture with them, upload it to social media, share what they have learned, and hashtag it #love17challenge.
The goal? At least one new student each day for the next 17 days. But many have already indicated they won’t stop there. They can’t stop there. As one student said, “Even though tough conversation may need to be had regarding guns, ultimately the issue is not that (guns)... but the heart.” And only Christ can change that.
What about you? Will you take the challenge? Let’s not stop with just MPCS... or 17 days. Let’s join our students and help the #love17challenge change the world.
Steve Kyle is the Director of Christian Life at Mount Paran Christian School. This blog is adapted from Mr. Kyle's chapel presentation to high school.
To learn more about how a Christian education could make a difference for your child(ren), please click here.