Every afternoon, as the final bell rings to signal the end of the school day, the noise level ranges from normal to moderately loud as students gather at their lockers.
Even from the third floor computer lab, I can hear them talking to each other. Some conversations focused on homework assignments, others focused on extracurricular activities, and still other conversations center on social items. Nothing seems out of the ordinary on most weekday afternoons.
Then comes Wednesday.
Half an hour after the bell rings, new and different sounds echo across the school grounds. A siren goes off and groups of students go running down the hallway. This is later followed by the sounds of singing from the chapel. From the gym, I can hear the sounds of elementary students laughing, running and playing.
What makes the difference?
Wednesday afternoon is when different groups of high school students meet together in their various Christian Service Outreach (CSO) groups. Throughout the school year, these groups meet on Wednesdays after school to take part in a particular type of outreach.
One group that meets on campus is AWANA. The high school students involved in this group lead the AWANA activities in the gym where the elementary students participate. Students as young as three years old and as old as sixth graders are welcome to participate.
Another group that meets on campus is called Guardians. This group of high school students provides a mentorship program between high school and middle school students. They play different types of games on school grounds and then meet together in the chapel.
Another group of high school ladies formed a new music CSO group this year. They practice on campus and then perform at different locations in the city.
Other groups meet on campus, but travel to other locations for their ministry. Some groups team up with existing ministries to serve others. Those involved in “Pan De Vida (Bread of Life)” work with the homeless and poor in the city. Those involved in “Extreme Response” visit the city dump to bring the gospel to the desperately poor working there. Another group works with “EFCito” which is the Sunday school ministry of a local English-service church. Those who work with “Opcion de Vida (Choose Life)” work with mainly street boys who spend most of their time in the park at the center of Quito called “Carolina Park.”
Another group doesn’t work with a specific ministry, but has established their own ministry to a government run hospital called “Baca Ortiz.” They plan their visits on every other week and visit the hospital on the intermediate weeks. This group calls themselves the Campana Cocha Clan and is named after a small indigenous village of the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle that they visit once a year.
Although neither Stephen nor I have been able to get involved in a CSO group this year, we’ve seen how this type of Christian service has impacted the lives of the students who are involved. It is amazing to see their hearts reach out to those who are in need with compassion and the love of Christ.
To read some stories about some of these ministries, please visit the student newspaper: http://126.96.36.199/~aainews/