SIDNEY — Christian Academy Schools (CAS) was founded in 1978 “to fulfill the need to develop and instill Biblical principles in the education of children. Christian Academy School staff is dedicated to equipping and inspiring students to be a new generation of Christ-Centered leaders.”
To this end, the school has employed Cheryl Ditmer as a missions coordinator in addition to her job as a part-time art teacher. Ditmer was chosen for the position because she was formerly involved in missions work throughout the country.
“When the board drew up the expected student outcomes, it was very apparent that the outreach and missions was a gifting of the school. Also, it was the catalyst to a student really becoming all they could be in Christ. We were blessed by the fact that she (Ditmer) was already on staff and perfect for the position. Her background was perfect for that,” said Mary Smith, superintendent of CAS.
“The kindergarten and first grade are praying for the police department, and the kindergarten teacher has placed the picture of the police department way down low, so the children can see it. I can’t get over how that has affected what the belief is about what the police officers do. Instead of saying these guys are always picking on me because I’m in trouble, they see those officers as friends and missionaries in our community. So, they’re not afraid of them. They would welcome their help if they needed it,” said Smith.
The second grade visits at Lane Park, a senior citizen community. They caroled at Christmas and they join in whatever organized activity is happening when they visit, whether it is a trivia contest or socializing.
“Third grade has a missionary family in New York. The family is ministering to the Russian community, and they have a church and Bible studies for the Russian community. They’re the Hyden family. They have tried to send packages to them throughout the year,” said Ditmer.
The fourth grade is in touch with a family of missionaries in Papua, New Guinea. The husband is an airplane mechanic who works on the planes. The class prays for them and sends cards to encourage the family.
Both missionary families have a newsletter they send to the classes. The New York family received Valentine cards from the class and passed them out to their church. They took a picture of that and sent it to the third-grade class.
The fifth- and sixth-graders send cards to Sarah Bellmer, a graduate of CAS who is teaching in China.
“The seventh and eighth grade end up in with the high schoolers, and they don’t have specific partners. During spiritual emphasis week, we did a lot of things. It was three mornings, and then in the afternoons everyone went out someplace. That time is more like exposure. I try to get them into as many places as possible. In January through April they are partnered up with a group. That will be where they go all four times. Some went to Northwood to the multi-handicapped class, two groups went to Fair Haven, and two groups went to Agape. Then, there were two groups that I call Random Acts. They did something different each time. One group went to Food Town and carried out groceries for people,” explained Ditmer.
The high school students are required to complete a certain number of service hours in order to graduate, but these activities do not count for those hours. They are above and beyond.
“We’re called to love our neighbors and to be a light in the community. Loving your neighbor comes out in all different ways like prayers and gifts and words of encouragement. This lets the students get out in the community and to realize that we’re all a lot more alike than we are different. Part of it is seeing what different types of ministries there are and helping the students to see what their role might be as they get older and also to realize that kids can do things to. It isn’t just for adults,” said Ditmer.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News