An Alumna Speaks Out

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by Michaela Parker

As a student living in the area, I experienced French Camp Academy differently than people who live in the homes. FCA may have been  the place where I attended high school, but it was so much more than that.  I received a great education, but more importantly, I was cared for, loved, encouraged, and pointed to Christ.

I graduated in 2013 with a grand total of 28 classmates.  Having such a small class was so much fun because I was able to know and befriend everyone in my class.Allie Pendleton on air (3) copy I loved the small school scene and decided to further my education at Mississippi College. I graduated in 2016 with a degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations and journalism.

In high school, I was the girl everyone tried their hardest to avoid. Why? Because I was on the yearbook staff. I constantly carried my camera with me to events and school hoping to get that perfect picture. I served on staff for all four years. Most of my time after school was spent at WFCA Radio where I worked all four years of high school. That opportunity was one like none other, and sitting behind a microphone is where I discovered my love for communications.aaaMexico group

Mission trips were a big part of my high school experience. FCA is  unique in that it gives students the opportunity to participate in mission trips to Mexico, New York, Texas, and Wales. For three consecutive years, I served on mission teams to Fort Worth, Texas and aaa Mexico Mission Wales. Most young people are not given the opportunity to serve on a mission team until college. Because I had that opportunity while in high school, it helped me build my foundation on Christ and gave me a heart for the lost during my teenage years.

I will always value the staff members at FCA. During my four years in high school, I developed so many relationships that are still in my life today. They were influential figures to me as a teenager, and now as a young adult, they are great friends to me. I felt comfortable enough to discuss different challenges I was facing, and I expected to receive wisdom in return – which I always did. Even now, I know that I can go to them with anything and they will help me in the blink of an eye.jocelyn-hannah-o-with-camera

The love, encouragement, and support that was so graciously bestowed upon me while at FCA was very beneficial in my life. The Lord used so many staff members to show me what a young, Christ-like lady should look like. For my entire high school career, I was prayed for and invested in. Even though I did not live on campus, they still took the time to invest in students like myself. I can’t properly express my gratitude to them for being some of the most intentional and genuine people I’ve ever met.boy contemplating

The one thing that I love and value the most about FCA is the commitment to giving students a solid foundation built on Biblical principles. The Lord’s teachings are interwoven in the lessons taught in the classroom. Each year, I took a different academic class that was built around the Christ’s teachings and principles. Two of my favorite courses were Christian Family Living and Christian Worldview, both which I took during my senior year. The information that I learned in those classes I still apply to my life today. Defending my faith and recognizing healthy, Christ-centered relationships were two things that I had to deal with while in college, and FCA helped me with both of those.a-cassidy-reading-to-marcus

FCA is not like any other place I’ve ever experienced. I’ve seen so many people be changed for the better, I being one of them. The love that I have for FCA has only grown as the years have gone by. Even though my time as a student has come and gone, I am still a part of FCA through frequent visits, and most importantly, through prayer.

The Lord has tremendously blessed this ministry and the young people who come into FCA’s care, and I am confident that His faithfulness will be evident in the years to come.a-3-girls-in-church

They say that French Camp Academy is “One Fine Place.” Well, they say that because it’s true. A place as special as this can only come straight from the Lord, which in my books, makes FCA one fine place.

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Priceless

By Sylvia Dickson

 Our seniors have graduated with pomp, circumstance, and joy. The closing of this chapter in their lives mandated the tossing of hats in the air, hundreds of hugs and congratulations.

Priceless

CharlotteFor the past several years I have helped conduct our Senior Exit Interviews. This is their opportunity to give us a report card. Each area is rated and commented on: home, school, sports, activities, and work. All, except for a couple, gave us an A.

The prevailing comment in all areas was that we care. What does that look like? We want them to succeed. We spend time with students; we listen to them; we tutor; we know their names; we follow up; and, we provide a safe, welcoming community—a family atmosphere.

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God entrusted these young people to us for a season. Now He has opened new chapters in their lives, continuing their stories. We pray for them; we have high hopes and trust they will remember the many priceless things they have learned at FCA—mainly, that each one is priceless in God’s eyes.

One of the Proverbs says that we are to train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. We have countless alumni contact us, or come back to campus and tell us that the scriptures, the Christian role models, the healthy emotional and spiritual input have shaped their lives. Things they learned in Bible classes, Christian Worldview and Christian Family Living still speak truth in their lives today.joe-richards-boy

Priceless

 Our students are very important people. God made a place called French Camp Academy, and made a place for each young person who comes here. They are part of the hidden treasures and’ riches stored in secret places* God is calling us to value, cherish, and prepare for His kingdom.face-painting

These young people are precious. We tell them that. We give them High Fives and Atta’ Boys for jobs well done. When correction is needed we tell them, You’re too precious to act like that. When they are sad, we tell them God is always with you and will never leave you alone. When they are anxious or confused we pray with them and tell them, God knows you inside and out and will answer you, because He loves you.

 Priceless

 

*Isaiah 45:3

A PLACE OF RENEWAL

by Sylvia Dicksongirls with plant

There is a certain beauty to the winter landscape: stark silhouettes of bare branches brushing against a gray sky, empty fields bathed in crisp, winter sunlight, nippy mornings coated with glittering frost. However, what we truly long for, after waking in the early dark of winter, is to throw open our windows and feel warm spring breezes brushing away the sleep from our eyes.

Spring is a time of renewal. Daffodils spring from brown turf, trees dress up in spring green, the urge to fly a kite or plant a garden takes hold. We long to freshen up and fix up. Out with the old and in with the new.

daffodilsAnd so it goes, year after year. Our souls, bodies, and all of creation long for renewal. So many years of frustration and futility! How long will it last?

At French Camp Academy we see firsthand the ravages of sin and the bondage to decay. Students come to us from families fractured or destroyed by sin. They come to us looking for a place of renewal.

Why Renewal?boys and wisteria

In God’s Word, we see that even though Adam’s stomach was full, his purpose in life defined, his success certain, he wanted more.

When Adam and Eve broke the only commandment their Creator had given, they received a horrible shock. No longer could life be lived free from fear, pain, and destruction. A new law went into effect with the immediate verdict, “Guilty. Condemned to Die.”

The Beginning of Renewala-another-boy-in-church

Redemption and renewal are themes that guide French Camp Academy. We live out lives renewed in Christ before our young people, showing them “… there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

We tell them that even though mother ora-boy-painting father may have deserted them, God will not. We tell them that Jesus Christ came to free them from sin and give them new life: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3: 19).

The Work of Renewal

House parents and Historic area personnel work with students to reveal God’s plan for renewal. Teachers, coaches, work directors, radio personnel, all work at chipping away the chains of sin.a-girl-with-horse-web

In the afternoons and on Saturdays, you can see students and staff working on different projects. Horses must be fed, the bed and breakfast freshened for visitors, and the conference center readied for the next group. WFCA trains students in broadcasting. At Rainwater Observatory, students learn how to work telescopes and help with astronomy programs.tennis-player

Every aspect of FCA contributes to the accomplishment of our mission of being a Christ-centered home and school, serving young people and families for the glory of God.

Effects of Renewal

Lives built on the certainty of God’s redemptive work become stable, fruitful, and fulfilled. Hope takes root and enlivens minds and hearts. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (I Cor. 5: 17).katy-octavious-farida

The cords of sin and evil that so easily entangled thoughts and emotions are slowly unraveled and tossed into the flames. The stagnant water of sorrow is drained and lives are refilled with fresh water. Grins replace groans, direction replaces destruction, clear minds replace cloudy thinking.

Sometimes the renewal takes place quickly, sometimes slowly. But all around us we see God renewing lives at French Camp Academy.

Know My Anxious Thoughts

charlotte-angelby Sylvia Dickson

Many of our students were involved in a Christmas play at the church. It illustrated how God changes hearts and how important looking beyond the surface is.

Nobody performed perfectly. Mistakes were made, lines dropped, and scenes disrupted. But everyone applauded, and thanked the actors for their performances. arista-with-baby

In this play about love and forgiveness, we ALL were living it out in our relationships with each other that night. Some of the students were upset about forgetting a line or two. Others came on stage at the wrong time—or forgot to enter. It was organized chaos at times.

I, being the director, tried to keep a close eye on things, but I couldn’t keep up with it all. (Fortunately, I had 3 assistants who were also keeping up). Corralling 22 youngsters helped me refocus on how dependent I am on God’s attention to my life.

God doesn’t have to keep up. Every day is written by Him and executed perfectly: brettAll the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). God knows when I sit and when I rise (v. 2). He knows my thoughts before I think them. When I make a mistake, He’s there to show how even that works according to His plan.

Our play, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson, was a hit. Family members and friends smothered their favorite actors with hugs and accolades of praise. To cap things off, parents decorated and hosted the cast party, where more kudos were handed out.

It was all great fun and the slathering on of love smoothed over any mistakes made. In my nighttime prayer, I thanked God for His unbelievable love and forgiveness that He made possible through Jesus, His Son. I also prayed, aristaSearch me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (vs. 23,24).

Our young people learned a lot about themselves and others and about God as we went through the process of putting on a play. Being faithful to the lives where God has placed us, loving each other, and forgiving one another are some of the important lessons this group was exposed to. Now we just hope that they will transfer those lessons to real life.

I believe they will!

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An Open Letter to the Christian High School Student

Written by an FCA student in August, 2016028

It’s that time of year again. When social media is bombarded with the traditional “first day” pictures. Nerves are strung out, backpacks are full, and, if you’re a student at FCA, the task of trying to remember that dreaded name tag every day for a week is in full swing. School starting can be one of the most stressful times of the year for parents and students alike.

But as school starts to settle into our daily routine, one thing keeps popping up in my mind–it’s okay to be different. As a teenage believer, it is HARD to be a light anywhere, let alone school. There is so much darkness. But Jesus calls us to be lights, even in the darkest of places. And for some, school seems to be one of those dark places.dsc_0164

Now I know what you’re thinking. “How is school a dark place for you? You go to a Christian school for crying out loud.” And you’re right. I do. I go to a Christ-centered school where Jesus is taught day in and day out. But that doesn’t mean those 8 hours are perfect. Not everyone at FCA is a believer. And that is okay. Because it’s our job to point them to Christ and influence them in such a way as to make them wonder–who is this God they speak of? Who is this God of second chances? Who is this man who takes me as I am and loves me despite my brokenness?alexis

You see, Christian, French Camp Academy is a unique place. As soon as I walk into those double doors every morning at 7:40, I step onto a HUGE mission field. Every year kids come from across the country who are hurting. Some have never experienced love, what a Godly family looks like, or who Jesus is. A lot of these kids are yearning for a second chance. An opportunity to start over.

emma-with-marcusAnd FCA offers just that. French Camp is a personal school that seeks to encourage growth–academically, spiritually, and socially–in the lives of young people, all existing for the glory of God. That’s our opportunity to be that love. Even if they don’t agree with or think less of us because of the testimony we lay out.

On a totally different topic, we all know that Sometimes kids can just be mean. And the same is true at FCA. it’s everywhere. Countless times I have received comments about being a “God person” or a “rule follower” from people who don’t necessarily consider themselves as such. I use to get so upset about it. I tried fitting in with the other crowds but that of course brought no satisfaction. Because Jesus doesn’t call us to be like everyone else. He calls us to be different. And I’ve learned that.a _DSC9331 copy

It’s okay if people don’t understand why you choose to read your bible during your free time rather than talk about all the “fun” they had that weekend. It’s okay if people make comments about you. It’s okay if you have to walk away to get away from all of the profanity and crude conversation. Because we aren’t here to please men. We’re here to glorify our Maker in everything we do. (Galatians 1:10).

I’ve even had people make rude comments about scripture written on my notebooks and inside my locker. And yes it’s upsetting. But what’s awesome is the fact that we can use those opportunities to share that scripture and it’s meaning to that person. Maybe they need to hear just what that verse says.girl-carrying-lamp

This world needs leaders who are willing to be lights in the darkness. People who won’t give in to the pressures of society. But people who will dare to be different for the sake of the name of Jesus.

The whole point of this spill is as simple as this: when people laugh at you, and when people look at you funny in the hallways because of who you serve, just remind yourself that it’s okay. Jesus never promised that life would be easy. In fact, he promised that we would have trouble. But he also promised that he would never let go of our hand. He has already overcome sin, death and hell. And nothing can ever snatch us out of his hand.

Be a leader of light in your school. Don’t be discouraged by the darkness. Rather, continue to be love despite any circumstance you might be in. “Bear your cross as you wait for your crown.” 

Reposted from mygoodforhisglory, Aug 8, 2016

Impressions

 By Erin Ulerich

Two boys sharing(133)

The day really was going well with my two little ones. My kids had napped well, snacked well, and were excited about going to swim. My husband, Stephen, and I got to the pool, 2011 Summer School 084wrestled the floating devices onto the kids and finally got into the water. We introduced ourselves to a new staff family and their children, met several students from one of our girls’ dorms and were ready to play with the kids in the water.

Then it happened.

My children went bad. Rotten in a heartbeat. I can’t remember exactly what they were doing, except that they were definitely not obeying.  And in a crowded swimming pool, obedience and safety are synonymous.DSC_0018

My husband and I gave each other the “time to go” look. We told the kids that we were leaving because they were not obeying, and in response they launched into total meltdown mode. Screaming, wailing…you get the picture.

Stephen and I got the kids into the van, put them in their car seats kicking and wailing, looked at each other, shook our heads, and started laughing.

2011 Summer School 090As we drove home I said. “I’m sure we made quite an impression.”

A few days later, one of the dorm parents told me that my children’s meltdown had been the subject of some discussion in her dorm. As I hung my head, she assured me that her girls had been unphased by the meltdown. Our reaction is what grabbed their attention because it was very different from what they were used to seeing.

Life at French Camp Academy definitely resembles a fish bowl. The staff and students are DSC_0038around each other constantly. Those of us with small children give the students many opportunities to see the good, bad, and ugly sides of parenting. Really, it is good, because relationships form as we do life elbow to elbow.

As these relationships form, the impressions go both ways.

As I get to know our students, and know even a fraction of their stories, I am constantly impressed. Impressed that they are Dylangetting out of bed each day, going to school, looking forward to their future. Impressed that the same young man or young lady who was abandoned by their parents would have the courage to allow other adults into their lives.  Impressed by the student who is determined to be the first in their family to graduate high school, or go to college. Impressed that they want to do life differently than they were shown at home.

Staff/student relationships are vital to the ministry here at FCA because within these relationships walls come down and stories come out. Every student and every staff member come to FCA with a story and, for a time, their stories include French Camp Academy.Hannah O, Victoria, Monica M

Some students begin a brand new chapter in their lives here. Others may be here for a paragraph, or a few sentences. But while they are here, they hear truth that we trust will bear fruit in their lives. And while they are at FCA, we will learn from each other, meltdowns and all.

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A Race Worth Running

by Sylvia Dickson

They pressed in on one another at the starting line, waiting for the second when theyKids run1 yellow rose copy could burst forth and begin the race.

And they’re off! Zooming past me in a whir, I see looks of intensity on each face, the excitement and energy pushing each runner onward.

A few minute later, I begin to see runners headed to the finish line, making each arm pump and leg stride count. Some are definitely loosing speed while others are stretching to win.

boy with shoeA few are having to overcome unforeseen obstacles, but their spirit is good. Others, having completed the race, rush back to encourage friends to keep on going. Still others are being carried across the finish line.

What a sight! The Kids’ Run at Camp of the Rising Son’s annual Run for the Son was the highlight of my day. Their Making the effort was enough to fill my emotional bucket, much less the delight the runners showed at being a part of the event.

Something Wonderful

Isn’t it wonderful to be part of something big and good? One of our seniors told me how much she enjoyed being part of the drama productions. She said, Even though I was backstage, I loved being part of something good.grad2

God’s kingdom is big and good. That God loves us and gave His Son so our sins could be forgiven fills my emotional bucket forever. Not only that, His race is worth running because the prize at the end is perfect.

goofy runner In It Together

We are not alone. Many others have run the race, laying aside whatever hinders, focusing on the goal, and helping others along the way. Now it is our turn. We are the runners and the encouragers.

How do we encourage? We tell our young people at FCA to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Romans 12:2a). We are here to strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed (Romans 12:12-13).

CheersHigh Jump

French Camp Academy is preparing young people to run the race well. We show them the track, make them aware of the obstacles, nurture them with good spiritual food, give them the tools they need, and we run alongside them, cheering them on the way. Sometimes they out run us (Yea!), and other times we pick them up and carry them until they can run on their own.

Our strength comes from Jesus who has finished the race and is sitting at the right hand of the Father. We know that He will carry us through and the race will have been worth it.

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