Category: STUDENTS

Community Spirit is humbled to honor Miss Molly McKinney from Jenks High School as our Student IMPACT contest winner. Molly will use the $250 to further the development of her website, so that she can sell her products to fund missions project for little children in Guatemala. 

(Wouldn’t it be great if a web designer stepped in to help her?!? Hint. Hint. Nudge. Nudge.) 

Molly–We were so excited to meet you and learn about the mission God has you on. You are well on your way to creating a legacy of life lived for Christ. We can’t wait to run your first ad for free when the website is ready to go! Check out the “almost” finished project at www.123pearls.org

Molly’s submission: 

“The day I stepped onto the docks at Mission El Faro, my first thought was ‘I feel like I’m at home’. Every time I held a child, I was thinking ‘How are you so happy with so little?’ The answer I received was ‘The joy of the Lord is instilled in them.’

From that moment on, God was formulating a dream in me and opening doors for me to live it out. The joy these children have is the joy we all strive to have. 123 Pearls is investing in these children. Through your purchases, you will be blessing them and preserving a life of joy, love, grace and wisdom that only comes from God. 123 Pearls is giving back to honor God, Guatemala, and can help you fulfill your joyful journey for the Lord.

These kids and that place have been a constant love in my life. They showed me a new and truer meaning of God’s work in places outside of just my home. This is how this has impacted me and now I’m doing what I can so others are impacted through my new mission. 

Being able to do labor work in El Faro for only weeks at a time has made my hunger grow stronger to do more. Therefore, I have taken my resources to help provide life changing experiences for those who feel like are beyond an “everyday” reach.

I’m 17 years old now. My first year travelling to Guatemala, I went with Redeemer Youth at Redeemer Church. Last year, I went with Young Life. Paul Phipps has been my youth pastor for the past five years and now I am a young life leader for him!


Written by Teresa Goodnight

Biology, the study of the human body. Anthropology, the study of humankind. 

Carson Lowe started Biological Anthropology not thinking much more about what to expect than that he was taking a basic course in college. After all, in this age of where we are to accept anything and everything, you would expect a college course to be fair and balanced. Right?   

“The professor started the first week in a 250 person class in a big auditorium talking about deities, creationism, and about a creator blatantly saying ‘There is no creator.  There is no deity,’” said Carson.  Carson said the professor went on, “He explained there is really just no God that created us. My fraternity brother and I looked at each other like ‘Did he just say that? Did he call us out that way?’”  

“We had never been told that as a ‘fact’ by an authority figure we were supposed to trust. It just threw me,” said Carson. He followed, “They are so quick to say not to offend anyone with genders or whatever the social issue is—and I’m sitting there as a Christian wondering where the balance is. I wanted to stand up on my table and ‘Oh Captain my Captain’ but the professor was kind of a jerk. He was pretty cold. You could tell he wanted an argument. He would spout off information that was just not true and how there just couldn’t be a God as if he were an authority with facts to back up his beliefs.”  

Carson first found himself wondering if the guy had ever seen the Grand Canyon or the ocean. He said, “God is so evident in everything around if you look at the complexity of life, but it was a little rattling to experience that kind of forceful declaration from a professor. Then, he continues that tone for the whole semester.” Carson stayed in the class, but was constantly in awe of the hard-pressed nature of the anti-deity rhetoric he taught. Carson said, “I don’t know exactly how God created what He created, but I do know He did it. So it was something to hear this guy just speaking against it with some kind of authority like he could possibly know.”  

Carson’s foundation with his Christian education at Mingo Valley Christian laid the groundwork to keep him centered during a time of attack. Carson explained his Christian education was spread throughout his tenure, but it was really ramped up with Nate Madden, his Bible teacher. During the college class, Mr. Madden’s lessons came rushing back to him. Carson said, “Mr. Madden taught a theology/world views class his senior year. It was basically about understanding your faith, what it is you are saying, and what it is you believe in. We even had classes in years past with him about what other world religions believe.” Carson felt he had been prepared to face this kind of pressure although he didn’t really realize it at the time it was happening. He said, “Mr. Madden taught us exactly what we needed for moments like this. In the class, it was really getting a hold on what I believe and then understanding what others believe so that I can have that conversation with actual knowledge.” 

Carson believed those years and years of preparation with Mr. Madden made such a difference. Carson said, “Those classes really sparked questions I had thought about before that had gone unanswered until the class. The training inspired me to learn more and to pursue my faith as my own. I didn’t realize it at the time, but they enabled me to be able to stand on my own two feet when talking about my faith–and in a way that wouldn’t have happened in the church and certainly would not happen in a public school.”  

It was “years and years and years” of doing school with Mr. Madden and the other teachers at Mingo Valley Christian that Carson felt prepared him for what he was facing.  Carson said “Mingo Valley went into deep theology for high school. You wouldn’t believe it. I would come home and have these complex conversations with my parents.  Sometimes, I was even explaining some of it to them just because the theology was advanced stuff.” Carson explained they were really diving into Calvinism for one. Then, his teachers would dive into some of the harder questions about the Christian faith, things he felt they would never get into in church.

Carson continued, “I didn’t realize it while I was there. I really didn’t. I was a bit arrogant in high school and I’m probably still a little bit arrogant. I was just going through that information, but I was retaining it, holding onto it, and then in college I was really clinging to it.” 

So I just analyzed everything I was taking in. It was all just surprising to me. I remember getting out of that class and wanting to give Mr. Madden a call and tell him like “DUDE! You prepped me for today. I fought something off today and I’m happy about it.” 

Carson continued, “When you hear that from an authority figure, you want to just believe it. I’m a trusting person, some might tease I’m a bit gullible, but when someone tells me something I am not very skeptical. I tend to believe what people tell me for the most part.” Then Carson explained, “In my faith, when it comes to people discussing theology and people discussing God, I have learned to keep my guard up in ways I don’t do in other areas of my life. I got that from Mingo Valley Christian, which is a very hard thing to do. Even when I hear a pastor talk about the Gospel, even when I’m sitting in my church, I’m fact checking and making sure ‘Is this guy preaching truth?’ and taking it to the Bible. It’s not because I don’t trust them, but really it’s because it’s my duty to stay true to scripture above all else.”

It’s amazing to me how much my Christian education from Mingo Valley has played a part in me keeping true with the Gospel. It built the groundwork for me basically to be able to run.  

Carson spoke highly of friends in several private Christian schools around Tulsa, confirming how incredibly lucky we are in Tulsa to have so many options. Each one has a different appeal—a different way of being a fit for your child. Large, small, Montessori style or a specific denomination you prefer–we are truly blessed.

To wrap up, I asked Carson what he felt like was his main message to the Christian community. Carson immediately replied passionately.

“Honestly I can say this wholeheartedly, that Mingo Valley Christian, or really just Christian education, as a whole, may have been the single most beneficial thing for my faith that I have had in my life.

That’s a bold statement considering I go to a good church. I’m in a Christian fraternity. I’m doing all these communities that are about the gospel, but none of them prepared me for the Christian faith more than Mingo Valley, or just Christian education has done.

“And, truth be told, I don’t understand if you have the resources to do it—I do not know why you wouldn’t regardless of what school. I think as a Christian parent, if you can, it’s almost foolish not to do it. You should do it.”

Community Spirit Magazine knows the teachers making the greatest IMPACT on students have a formula all their own. We’d like to honor the top teacher nominated with a spring weekend getaway to Grand Lake to soak up some amazing lake views with a breakfast for 2 from Stuffin’s Café. The house has beds for 12, so they can bring along some friends and family for a little getaway OR they can pretend we never wrote that and enjoy it all by themselves for a truly restful weekend!  

Students we can’t wait to take your entries into the contest and find the characteristics ringing true across the group. Please fill out the form below to nominate your favorite teacher. Entrants need to include the teacher’s name, school, email, and include a short (or long) write-up on their teacher explaining why they deserve to be honored for their hard work and dedication to teaching. 

Teachers, we think you’re a BIG DEAL. So, we want to make a BIG DEAL out of you!

Teacher Nomination Form

We wanted to highlight just one way students make a difference. More than that, we wanted their story to IMPACT others!

Individuals or groups may submit their work here. We have a guaranteed minimum $250 prize for the winner’s cause. However, we will also be accepting donations here from readers for the fund-raising efforts/causes online to help further the impact. Donations will be tracked/accepted online. Deadline for submission is 2/15/19. Winner will be announced in the March issue of Community Spirit Magazine. 

The contest will look at 3 main areas:

1 – IMPACT to the recipient(s).
How will/did your efforts directly IMPACT the targeted recipients? What was the need? What did you (your group) plan/do to help? 

2 – IMPACT to the community. How will/did your efforts IMPACT the community? This can entail many sides.  Can/did your efforts touch a community?  Can/did they motivate your community to come alongside of you? Could others use your idea or be challenged by the idea to motivate more people to action?

3 – IMPACT to you. How will/did your effort IMPACT you? What will/did your involvement teach/instill/inspire in you?

This contest isn’t a numbers game, although we fully support mass efforts. Those coming together to help one family are every bit as worthy as those helping a city block. We all know Jesus taught us that the one matters. Jesus said, “…truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine…” (Matthew 18:14.) So, Go. Do. Be. Wherever God might lead you. And, tell us about it!  Students, we are in awe of your hearts, your ability to mobilize, and your desire to make an #IMPACT4Christ.

The winner will get $250 FOR YOUR CAUSE + A FREE OIL CHANGE from Christian Brothers Automotive!

Submit your work!

Make a donation!

By Teresa Goodnight

The youth are our future. It’s a reminder Christians need to keep top of mind every day.  The buzz around many churches in the city continues to be around discipleship.  Many churches feel they have lost their way a bit on discipling new (and old!) believers and are trying to navigate their way back into more of a discipline.  The problem is—that navigation takes time.  For those who aren’t paying attention, it will take an awakening. However, as parents we KNOW that we really don’t have THAT much time.

Nothing seems faster than a child’s move from diapers to grade school and then out of the house to college or career.  As parents, many seriously wonder where the time has gone (Of course, some ARE anxiously counting down the days to graduation!). With time not being on our side, often one of the things accidentally put off until tomorrow can be the true discipleship of our children.  It’s not that we don’t take them to church—we do.  Mostly.  However, for many, life seems to get in the way of scheduled dedicated time together to talk about the Bible and train our kids.  We are trying, but the quick, hard question is this:  Are we doing enough?  Are our churches training our children to live life as successful, independent adult Christians?  To take it even further, are they being trained in a way to stay grounded in a world moving away from our core Christian values?  If we’re unsure, it’s a great reminder – we only get one chance to raise them right. 

One way parents are getting the extra discipleship is partnering with a Christian school.  I know.  It didn’t strike me at first either.  I never considered sending a child to private Christian schools until I had one. It wasn’t even on my radar. Then, when my daughter was born, I started to feel the burden of managing her education.  My husband and I looked at private schools before she was out of her diapers at just under 2 years.  However, I wasn’t looking for a Christian education partner–I was searching for the school to offer my highly intelligent, little cutie the ability to take advantage of all God had given her.  My husband and I set the course looking for a school avoiding naps and offering her the perfect environment to thrive.  Christian schools were on the list, because I wanted her to grow up around other Christian kiddos, but our first line of business was education.  I just liked the thought of fewer students to one teacher.  I was pretty sure my only child would need all the attention a teacher could muster to feel assured and heard.

In 2018 though, I started meeting children attending private Christian schools.   I was really in awe of how well they could articulate their faith with real depth of meaning. I couldn’t help but wonder if the difference was at home or in where their time was spent studying—maybe both. If it was at home, I was a little jealous of the parenting skills, as we barely found time for meals, much less anything else.  So, I decided to dig a little deeper.  When I started talking to the private Christian schools, I was amazed. Turns out, the majority of them spend semesters of time learning the basics of our faith. The Bible is integrated throughout the school career.  It’s not just for Sundays or maybe Wednesdays.  They study it. They learn to share it. It really becomes a large part of their every day life at school. I never really thought about it before. 

Then I started asking the students. Sure enough, the students were in private schools, attending classes on the basics of their faith, world views, and learning to integrate their beliefs into their everyday life. I was amazed at both their ability to articulate what they believe as well as how confidently they expressed their thoughts.  I knew right then, I had been focused on the wrong thing.  It wasn’t just the general educational experience, but I wanted my daughter to experience all the integration of God with her daily life that I could find.  All of a sudden, her education dropped to second place under her discipleship.

Why does this matter? Because if they don’t understand what they believe and why, when the days come when they question their faith (usually college age but sometimes earlier), they tend to begin to wander.  Only you
can know your child and how your church is faring on instilling the important basics of the faith in them. As a parent, this is a critical part of our jobs. If we miss it, we may not get that chance again. 

So, as a product of an incredible public school, where Bible studies, a few Christian teachers and Christian friends were the norm, I can still see how much of a difference a Christian education might have mattered to me.  As times get more difficult, if school can offer those extra people investing Biblically in my daughter, who help keep my child on God’s path for life–I’ve decided it’s worth the sacrifice. After all, it does take a village. 

CATCH THIS: We’re interviewing a graduate of Mingo Valley Christian, Carson Lowe, sophomore at the University of Arkansas, for February to specifically talk about this training and its value in his University of Arkansas World Views class. You won’t want to miss it next month.

After touring around several of the schools in the Tulsa area, Community Spirit Magazine (CSM) decided we wanted to create an annual contest supporting those efforts. These students are being Christ by showing their love and we want to help their light shine even brighter.  

We think helping others is infectious!  

Metro Christian Academy had a key role inspiring the contest with their act of kindness in October this last year to the community surrounding their school.  They decided to create their very own community block party (a trunk or treat). With a team of 9, they organized the event – coordinating everything from a costume tent for kids to a petting zoo.  They went into the community surrounding their school to invite their neighbors to attend.  With a whole school of volunteers and parents behind them for what appeared a seamless event, they touched hundreds of families in the neighborhood surrounding the school.  CSM went in to talk with Halle Sutton and Annie Blankenship, two of the student leaders to better understand what went on. 

With excitement to discuss their adventure, Halle and Annie were anxiously waiting in the room ready to talk. Annie’s sister Amy Blankenship was the Service Head for the school and actually had the vision for the event.  Annie and Halle both helped start the event in 2017. They both saw exactly how the event impacted lives the first year–and couldn’t wait to be leaders this last year.  

So, without hesitation, they started right in.  Halle began passionately, stating she feels Metro Christian Academy’s campus location isn’t just by accident. She said “It’s a cool opportunity we have right where we are to help the community fellowship with each other.” The community surrounding the school hits the news a lot with more than what it deserves from crime problems. When you’re on the outside of a crime area, people tend to falsely assume the people in the area are creating the problems, when they are just living with them more closely than the rest of us.  Both girls feel strongly there is a need for everyone to come together as a community.   Annie says “It’s a cool safe place.  Even if for one night, kids can feel safe in their world. They can realize we can come together and we can make friends. It was fun watching them make friends with each other as well as the volunteers.”

Halle feels the event is stressful but incredibly worth it to see the kids having fun.  She said, “Some of the more difficult areas for running an event like this are trying to stay in budget.” That’s a common thread in any event planning as we all know too well.   Annie also finds vision planting a bit challenging at times.  She said  “As students we know the most about this event, but then you also have to work with the adults and the people in charge to get them to approve a lot of things. You have to share your vision with them to get them on board.”  

Volunteers were key to the success of the event said the girls.  They all played really important parts in the success.  Halle said “The volunteers could sign up for whatever their interests were. So, if they were good at painting, they could sign up for face painting.” Halle said “With all the volunteers, we had hamster balls, face painting, pumpkin painting, bouncy houses, inflatables, a petting zoo, 9 square and even a fire breather” (as both girls chuckled). “Then there was a costume closet.” said Annie  “A lot of Metro kids and families donated used and new costumes.  So, any kid who came without a costume could get one.“The event had quality and charm with a little something for everyone. Annie followed on to say, “On the night of the event, it was kind of crazy.  As the service committee, we knew we’d be running around trying to make sure everything was happening right but we had these volunteers coming for one night. They were fresh and ready to connect with the kids. So we got to see everyone creating these amazing bonds with the kids as we were running around making things happen. It was just incredible to watch.”  

Annie was thrilled with the smiles on the kids faces who came but also really moved at the impact the event had on the students at Metro. “Sometimes Metro students can wonder ‘Why are we in this location?’  It has a reputation for being a bad place.  So seeing the good in the community around us was a really cool thing for us, as students.  It helps everyone remember kids live here and they’re really sweet–like any other kids you would run into.” Annie also added  “I think the cool thing was also that we had so many Metro parents volunteering and I really saw them making connections with other parents.” 

The girls said they had some great community partners as well. Cane’s on 41st gave chicken kids meal cards for all the kids.  Reasors on Peoria stepped in and gave them a great deal on the food, which helped make the event even better.  That kind of kindness makes you want to run grab some Cane’s right before you go shopping at Reasors!

As I listened to them both, the incredible lessons they were learning for life were really astounding.  Being an event planner, it jumped out that they were touching on everything you would need to create a successful event for any business or charity–from logistics to budget and most importantly, getting people on board with your vision.  These were not just event skills, but critical life skills–all learned while making a difference in their community.  There was such joy in their eyes as they shared.  It was
easy to see deep down the greatest IMPACT of all was on their hearts.