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Providence House is in its third year.
When we began the project of House, our vision and heart for it was huge; and they still are. However, like Albert Camus wrote, “All great things have ridiculous beginnings.” You are changing culture. You are asking people to step out in faith. You are navigating the logistical hiccups that come with launching anything new, big, and bold enough to transform the school culture.
I am so thankful Mr. Latta, Mrs. Compton, Coach Smith, and Coach Wright have lead us through the beginnings of House with humor, grace, perseverance, and creativity. I am also thankful for the students who serve as House officers and on our Student Leadership Council (SLC). Their investment of time, resources, and talent is why House continues to get better. My gratitude also includes the faculty sponsors and the parents who see purpose in House and lend it their support.
Two weeks ago, on our first Friday back in schoo, Providence House launched its first PCS House Outreach Day. All eight Houses spent the school day visiting different sites across the Wiregrass to serve a variety of ministries. We heard so many stories of answered prayers and God’s faithfulness—the students worked extremely hard and made real contributions to their assigned ministries. We built relationships with community groups and people in our hometown; and each House, across 9th through 12th grade, was able to rekindle and build on friendships that would not exist if we only experienced PCS community via the grade-levels.
I am in Wilberforce House, named after the English social reformer and evangelist William Wilberforce. We visited The Ark on Main Street. Director Jeff Peacock, (a sincere brother in Christ) began our time by giving us a tour of the facilities and sharing The Ark’s vision. Mrs. Jamie Smith and I, and all of our Wilbys, heard about the very concrete ways The Ark is feeding thousands of families and individuals; housing dozens of men who need a hand up after homelessness, addiction, joblessness, or prison has steered them off course. We learned that The Ark provides those men with career counseling, a small wage for work around The Ark, living arrangements, and three meals a day. Most importantly, the Ark disciples their constituents in the Truth of the Word of God with months of Bible study, Christian fellowship, and worship, providing accountability to meet benchmarks of Christian maturity.
Living It Out
During the school week at PCS, we pray, read the Word, and apply our theology to the disciplines we are studying in the arts and sciences. PCS House Outreach Day was an awesome opportunity to give hands and feet to our curriculum. The guys in Wilberforce worked a jackhammer and wielded shovels and cut a trench, through asphalt, from one building to another for a water line. I never heard one complaint from anyone.
We worked. We laughed. We perspired.
And we took pride in doing a good job and helping out Mr. Peacock, his assistant Al, and all the people associated with The Ark.
The ladies worked in a big room, where hundreds of articles of donated clothing were brought to them. Mrs. Smith and her students sorted, tagged, priced, and hung-up box after box of clothing. Mr. Peacock said the ladies saved his guys days of labor. And by assisting the operation of The Ark Thrift Store, the Wilberforce students were contributing to 50% of The Ark’s yearly operational budget.
Wonders We Saw
After the day was finished and students either drove away or parents picked them up, Mrs. Smith and I exchanged pictures and thoughts about the memories Wilberforce made. For the rest of the weekend, I could not help but think about what had occurred. I was overwhelmed with thankfulness and humbled by God’s grace.
When criticism comes, and naysayers renounce something new (and I can be one of those cynics!), and questions and logistics are so difficult to solve sometimes, days like PCS House Outreach are our Ebenezers: testaments of the truth, beauty, and goodness of this counter-cultural and crazy thing called “Providence House.”
Educator James Comer says, “No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship.” Learning. Correction. Questioning. Conversation. And team spirit. All of those sprout from the fertile ground of a healthy Christian relationship. House promotes just this type of community, while loving and serving others.
On that day, across Dothan and throughout our Rhetoric School, faculty were able to fellowship and labor with students we regularly do not interact with. On that day, the Lord knitted our hearts closer together, as we worked and ate and prayed together. On that day, we bore witness to Christ’s work in our lives, and bore witness to needs in our community we might not have known about. On that day, the PCS Student Leadership organized ministry, lead devotionals, and loved on their House members.
And finally, on that day, I saw our "ridiculous beginnings" continue to evolve into great God things. With the hope that there’s more to come.
As this is written, all eight of the PCS Houses are spread out across our city doing community service during the school day.
Today is our initial school experience in utilizing the entire day for House community service. Each of the eight houses are in eight different sites working to assist those organizations with the tasks of serving the community.
Why do we do this?
Because in the lives of each of us, the way to focus on others and not our own problems, needs, and worries is by serving others. The cure for entitlement of our own hearts and attitudes is found in serving other people.
The Global Ends statement of our school states:
Christian families of the Wiregrass community who share First Presbyterian Church’s vision for classical, Christ-centered education will be impacted and the students will receive an excellent education in a loving atmosphere at an affordable cost that encourages them to be all that God calls them to be so that as graduates they will be equipped to be God-honoring servant-leaders who impact the culture.
To become servant-leaders we must first learn the value of the practice of service. The Lord has called us to serve others, not be served. PCS is practicing that valued attribute today.