Students Cultivate Compassion Through Service
Story by Heidi Wetmore
Spencerville Adventist Academy (SAA) is developing the habit of prioritizing what really matters: its values. The core value of service teaches students the vital lesson of loving their neighbors as Jesus taught; the way one gives back to their school, church and local community should be a way of life.
“Serving puts into practice one of the most important yet challenging principles in Scripture: humility,” says Tim Soper, campus chaplain. “Putting the needs of others ahead of our own demonstrates that we love others the way Christ loved us. This is a natural response to those who are already in love with Jesus. … Serving others is one of the best ways to learn about and experience God’s love.”
The benefits of community service extend beyond the recipients of the students’ efforts. By serving those in need, students also develop a sense of purpose, reinforcing the reality that they can make a tangible difference in the world. Engaging in service projects positively impacts students’ personal growth, character development and spiritual formation. It strengthens their sense of belonging and connection to the broader community, fostering a profound sense of unity and shared purpose. Service to others provides students the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world.
Seventh-grader Eden Dessie says, “I feel happy thinking that I could make a difference when someone needs it.”
SAA’s elementary students engage in a variety of projects, teaching young hearts the importance of giving back while fostering a sense of responsibility and gratitude. Some popular initiatives include singing for assisted living residents, participating in food drives at local shelters, encouraging senior citizens by way of pen pal programs, making cards for military personnel and volunteering at church.
Seventh-grader Michael Haughton says, “Sometimes you can’t spread the gospel with words, but you can spread the gospel with kindness.”
High school students have expanded their service opportunities to participate in more complex projects that require leadership and organizational skills. These include coordinating charity fundraisers, volunteering at homeless shelters, serving at local churches, participating in mission trips, landscaping gardens at nearby parks and partnering with local nonprofits to address pressing community issues. Through these experiences, students gain a deeper understanding of the challenges their neighbors face and learn the value of working collaboratively to make a positive impact.
“What I love about our Spencerville community is that our school, church and parents are intentional in setting expectations, providing opportunities and modeling service to our students,” says Tissiana Bowerman, principal. “There are few things as exciting as seeing students value service at an individual level by taking the initiative to make a difference in a way that is unique to their personal interests and skillsets.”