I often get asked what draws me to work at a small private Christian school in Gretna, a small rural town in Manitoba. The answer is quite simple: because of the people. It’s not always easy, but I can always find ways to point towards God at work.
Our hope at Mennonite Collegiate Institute (MCI) is to create an environment that takes learning beyond the classroom. We hope our students will grow in their understanding of God, while experiencing a community that builds character and integrity. Every year, we have the chance to meet with student leaders to help map out their hopes and dreams for the new school year. This year, our students worked hard to develop what they like to call their “student manifesto” that was inspired by Jesus’ words in Mark 12: “In this school we strive to be inclusive, open minded, selfless and willing to try new things. We also recognize that nobody is perfect and that’s okay.”
In their discussions as a group of leaders, they were inspired by the unconditional grace and love of Jesus. They wanted fellow students to know that, no matter what, when you enter this space we want you to feel loved and have a sense of belonging. In a small way, this was their way of paraphrasing Jesus’ greatest commandments: “Love God, and love your neighbour as yourself.”
We’re halfway through the year, and I have already seen the power of this love at work in our hallways. Jesus is being made real. I’ve seen it through the care students have offered fellow students as they walk through health concerns. I’ve experienced it when students take a moment out of their day to step into my office just to encourage me, or offer me a gift of thanks. I’ve watched Jesus at work when our students take the time to listen and empathize with each other. It’s when a student celebrates a friend getting a role in the school musical, even if it was the same role they were hoping for. I see it everywhere.
Here at MCI, it’s an ongoing journey of learning together what it means to show the love of God to one another in all we do.
Paul Peters is MCI’s director of student life.