We are the hands of Jesus.
At Valley Lutheran, students have many opportunities to grow in their faith and share the love of Jesus, often showing this through their service to others. The Global Awareness Club (GAC) has embraced sharing the love of Jesus through their service to others in both a local and global arena.
Valley’s GAC began in 2013. But the story of how it began is anything but traditional! In 2013, Valley students were assigned Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculée Ilibagiza as their summer reading book. Most students came back to school in the fall ready to discuss the book and continue on with their high school studies.
But not all. For some students, Left to Tell was so impactful that they wanted to bring the author, Immaculee, to Valley for a presentation. And that they did. Approaching home congregations for donations, and fundraising among the Valley family and student body, the group of students helped raise funds to fly and host Immaculee. On October 1, 2013, Immaculee shared her personal tale of surviving the genocide of the Rwandan Holocaust.
So moved by her presentation, this group of students pursued ways in which they could continue to make an impact and share God’s love through service to those near and far. Students continued to meet together, eventually creating an official name for their group, Global Awareness Club. While the teacher leadership has changed throughout the years, the club’s mission from Mark 12:30-31 has stayed the same: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
For the members of the GAC, loving God and our neighbor go hand in hand. In 2017, the club tied 150 blankets for children in foster care throughout the Saginaw area. In 2018, the club tied 50 fleece blankets and created prayer journals that were distributed to children in a small village in Alaska by Saginaw area LCMS members traveling on a mission trip.
As we approach the Christmas season, the Global Awareness Club is busy preparing for Valley’s annual participation in Operation Christmas Child. Operation Christmas Child is an international Christmas gift program where children from underprivileged countries receive a shoebox full of items. This year, the GAC anticipates that Valley students will pack 200+ shoeboxes for boys and girls ages two to twelve for international distribution. Valley students work together in their family group* (see note) to collect shoebox items and culminate the collection with a school-wide “packing party.”
Packed boxes are transported to a local collection agency from which they are shipped around the globe. Recipients of the shoeboxes are also given an invitation to join in a 12-lesson discipleship course. When a child graduates from these twelve lessons, they are given their own (often their family’s first) New Testament Bible.
“Being in Global Awareness Club is a really important part of being a student here at Valley. And, Operation Christmas Child is an important part of GAC,” shared senior GAC leader Megan Mattichak, “It is so cool to come together as a school and serve others and pack all these shoeboxes. It’s a fun way to share the Gospel to children in a different country who may not have heard it any other way.”
Valley’s Global Awareness Club celebrates being the hands of Jesus, where being of service to others means being able to share the Gospel with children around the world. GAC celebrates the support from the student body, because these shoeboxes are not just a box. These shoeboxes are love, these shoeboxes are hope, these shoeboxes are joy. And that’s what Valley is about. Being the hands of Jesus.
This Christmas season, may the love of Christ surround you and your family. Merry Christmas from Valley’s Global Awareness Club, and the entire Valley family!
* (note): A Valley family group is made up of one lead teacher and students from each of the four grades. As seniors graduate, family groups add incoming freshmen, maintaining about 15 students per group. Students remain in the same family group with the same lead teacher all four years at Valley.