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.

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FCA: Different in the Best Way

by Stephen Korpi, FCA teacher/coach

Korpi, Stephen1

Before coming to FCA, I taught in several public schools in TN. I am now going into my 3rd year on staff at FCA. I started out as activities director and JH math teacher and then began coaching basketball and tennis my 2nd year.

I truly enjoy teaching and coaching my students. One of the greatest changes in teaching at FCA from public school is that I am not only allowed to tell the Gospel of Christ, but encouraged to do it each lesson. One of the highlights of my day is the privilege of doing devotions with my students each class and practice. This is what I love most about my job.

Watkins runningAnother thing different about teaching here is that you are better able to build relationships with the students. At public schools you might see them one hour in a day and never again, but here you live in their world.

I have found that when you are able to build relationships with students, it is then that you can really mentor them—and they will listen to you! I am learning to have fun with the students and laugh with them more, and when the serious times come, I am able to be used of God and speak Truth into their lives.

A complete new thing here to me is the way discipline is done. I have never seen Drivin' 'round copydiscipline done in such a loving way. It is done in love, truly for the interest of the student to grow them into a person of good character. God loves those He disciplines. Through the close, caring, godly relationships of the staff and students, the students see that we want the best for them.

Another difference from teaching in a public school is I am blessed to be surrounded with a Christian staff. I am so thankful to know I have coworkers praying with and for me. I’ve never had a better administration— leaders who love and mentor me. I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow in my faith just by watching and living with more mature Christians around me as they allow themselves to be used of God.

Katy, Octavious, Farida copyAnother thing about staff and students living as neighbors, is you always have ministry opportunities available. When I feel the slightest bit bored or lonely, I head to the guys’ side of campus and hang out with the students. The kids love it when staff will get out and play games with them—and I am thankful that I am young enough to enjoy it! I am able to do things I love and minister at the same time—basketball, tennis, swimming, frisbee, biking, table tennis, etc.

Many times I feel like I am the one who is being blessed by being here. It is One Fine Place.

For information of admissions, policies, and how you can partner with FCA, contact Lance Ragsdale at (662) 547-6482, or visit our website, www.frenchcamp.org.

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Recycled and Reconciled

By Karen CatesDCF 1.0

While visiting a sewing store recently, my attention was captured by beautiful quilts hanging everywhere—elaborate, colorful, strategically designed, with luxurious fabrics.  Those quilts triggered precious memories of simple quilts tediously and lovingly put together by hands that invested the truth of God’s love and Word into my life.

I envisioned my great grandmother pulling a favorite dress, worn out and raveling, from the chiffarobe, laying it across her table, and precisely cutting it into strips.  She would be thinking of how her dress would soon provide warmth and comfort for her five children.

Then, she took her husband’s shirt, ripped by barbed wire, carefully removed the buttons, cut it into squares. Laying her hand on the shirt she could feel his strength and her heart resonated with his work for his family. Stacking the strips and squares neatly in a box, she would slide them under her bed where they would wait for more pieces to complete her project.

She gathered all the remaining pieces and stuffed them into a pillowcase hanging on a nail. It was filling up with old dish towels, socks, and flour sacks to use as batting and backing for the quilt. Nothing was thrown away. There was a new use for everything.

The children’s clothes were mended, passed down, and eventually cut into shapes for a quilt. When she finally had enough to cover the big feather bed, she would sit by the fire at night and stitch each piece together using a needle and thread.

As she sat piecing the quilt top together, she would quietly pray.  Every piece elicited a prayer for those who had worn them. She prayed for them to know and serve their creator and provider and she thanked God for His provision and protection. She took comfort in knowing that as she would gently tuck them in at night under this quilt, they would rest under a covering of prayers and under the Father’s wings.

Those were days of utility and purpose, a recycling of everything—a time of new creations.  When we read how God created the heavens and the earth, we see order and attention to detail. We see His love and provision. Through Christ, we see His sacrifice that mends our brokenness. He makes all things new—new purpose—new life!

We come to Him broken, scarred and worthless in our sin. Yet, He carefully and gently removes the pain and the hurt and remakes us into new creatures for His glory. He fills us with His Spirit to make us his own unique design. He makes us a new creation to encourage and comfort others.

When Christ recreates us according to His likeness, He puts us in a group to serve. Each life brings a new story, a new experience, each changed and stitched together as part of His body. Our differences fade for the common unity of purpose—recycled and reconciled—for His Glory!