After speaking with Chatham Christian Schools’ Grade 7 teacher Mike Hoekstra about the volunteer work undertaken by students in his class, the Gospel according to Matthew in chapter 25, verses 35 through 40, may be a relevant consideration.
Students from his class, three at a time, have been volunteering with a school parent, Elaine Wolting, at the Praise Fellowship Church soup kitchen in Chatham.
Matthew tells of Jesus reminding his faithful followers how they fed Him in times of hunger and gave Him drink when He felt thirst, and the faithful respond by questioning when these events actually occurred.
“Truly I tell you,” is His response, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
When Hoekstra speaks of the experience his students receive helping serve those in need, he speaks about the goals of a Christian education in general.
“That’s part of our mission here at Chatham Christian (School), and many other schools share the same goals,” he says. “We’re teaching Christ-centred teaching in the schools for Christ-like service beyond school, and this is kind of a first step.”
He says the connection between students, parents and teachers is on display through the volunteer initiative in the fact that the idea came from Wolting and not him.
“One of things we’re talking about in Bible class is ‘pay it forward’ and getting involved in our community, and I have to admit, (parent involvement) is the beautiful thing about Christian schools,” he says.
As a new teacher filling in this year for a maternity leave, he says he’s thankful to see the true spirit of charity alive and well in the students.
When the students return after cooking, serving and cleaning at the kitchen, Hoekstra says they’re eager to talk about their experience.
“They’re at that age where it’s important to start making that connection, rather than just talking about it in the classroom,” he says.
“I think it’s great; it’s putting their faith into action.”