Aimee and I received a "Thank You" letter from one of the teachers at the Community Summer Academy. It's edited a bit for length, but I think you'll get a sense of the ministry's impact. For those who don't know, forty children mainly from the neighborhood around The Future Church spent four days a week for six weeks under the leadership of Director Nicki Hughes, with three great teachers, multitudes of unpaid servants from both Community UMC campuses and The Future Church, working on academic skills and enjoying summer long VBS. They ate breakfast and lunch with us. The cost of the program was about $9000. The cost to the children and their families was zero dollars.
The kids improvement in terms of reading was measured throughout the summer, and the results were astounding. Kids on the average, if they were behind, got caught up with their grade. Most kids advanced beyond their grade for the coming year. While gazillions of books were donated for kids to read, the favorite book for each child was the new Adventure Bible they received and took home when the CSA concluded the end of July.
To get an idea of the impact, here's the letter we received.
Dear Bryan and Aimee,
I am sorry it has taken so long to write. The days have passed and I still cannot find the adequate words of appreciation for being part of the Community Summer Academy. The six weeks have been life changing for me. What a privilege. I am blessed!
I would like to thank you and your church, Community UMC, for nurturing the vision of CSA. Your members funded a possibility and made it a reality.
It is wonderful to hear the positive reports from parents, grandparents, family members, friends, and our students. Overwhelmingly "Christian Ed" was named the favorite activity. Our children are hungry to know bout God, his son Jesus, and salvation. Each had their moment when Holy Spirit brings understanding and some clarity.
I will never forget a little girl's moment in my class. She turned wide eyed and in awe said, "Miss Tammy, did you know Jesus is no longer dead?" What a moment!
I never would have thought our students would have preferred to read the Bible over popular books like "The Drinking Gourd" or "Number the Stars" for reading instruction. We had scheduled time to read and discuss the Bible during Christian Ed, however our guided reading instruction soon evolved to center around Bible stories. The students loved their Bible and enjoyed reading and discussing what God said to them through them.
The students also had their favorite worship songs. "Crazy Love" and "Where You Go" were sung every day the last couple of weeks of CSA. Also, while initially I was the only one who would say a prayer in the classroom, soon several students began to volunteer to pray. Our morning prayer and closing prayer time blessed me so. I know they moved the heart of our Heavenly Father.
What a blessing! Bible reading, worship, prayer, math, writing, gardening, guided reading, computer lab, media literacy, and my highlight of the day, the "Yea God Moment". Our students would tell of God's intervening power in their lives. Many shared how God made them feel better after their classmates prayed for them. Several shared how God helped them in track or dance competitions. The Lord is so real in their lives. What a blessing!
How amazing it has been to watch our students faith in the Lord develop and grow. May the Holy Spirit continue to abide in each of their hearts as we continue to pray for each child daily. Also may we pray for the vision of CSA and what is yet to be.
In closing, thank you for financially supporting the CSA and making it possible. I think of the song, "Thank You for giving to the Lord." Thank you servants who gave generously of your time. thank you those who prayed for the CSA, the staff, and the children. You have touched my heart and changed my life. I know you have blessed the heart of God.
Jesus is no longer dead, indeed. He is alive. Thank you all for faithfully committing to this ministry!