By NMC - June 2, 2016
Posted in Student Ministry, High School Ministry, Stories from NMC
Over the next couple of weeks, high school seniors will stand with their classmates one final time. They will walk across a stage, shake their principal’s hand, and receive a high school diploma. Family and friends will go to many graduation open houses. They will look at baby pictures and senior pictures and give gifts to celebrate.
As summer winds down and school begins again, high school graduations and open houses will slip out of people’s minds. New routines will begin, and the next senior class will start their final year of high school. But what about those new college freshmen? Some will travel ten minutes away to college. Some will travel thousands of miles. Some will be at Christian institutions. Others will be at public schools. Away from the accountability of old friendships and mentors, all of these students will face new challenges without the community they grew to rely on. As these students try to navigate this new territory, they can sometimes feel alone. That’s where Sticky Faith comes in.
The goal of Sticky Faith is to help high school graduates stay grounded in their faith after they leave for college. Although there are many aspects to this program, one particular facet of Sticky Faith is Adopt-a-Grad.
Adopt-a-Grad matches a high school graduate with an individual or family who is committed to walk alongside that student during his or her first year of college. Although adopters also commit to sending notes of encouragement and the occasional care package, they are mostly encouraged to cover their student in prayer. Over the years, many incredible relationships have formed because of Adopt-a-Grad.
Shawn Johnson decided to adopt a few students when his small group graduated. After investing in their lives for two years, he recognized the incredible opportunity he had to walk with them through their first year of college. His goal was to send them subtle, but powerful reminders of the truth of God’s word and do his best to keep their relationships solid.
This usually came in the form of texting with his students on a regular basis. It was quick, easy and worked with their busy schedules. Occasionally he drove to their campuses to take them out to lunch or dinner and spend time with them. For him, it’s all about relationship. Even though he didn’t see them once a week, he did his best to stay in communication, to make sure they knew how deeply he cared for them.
Dominic Miranda and Grant Stichter are two recipients of Shawn’s intentional care. When they signed up for Adopt-a-Grad, they expected to be chosen by a random person. Additionally, they expected occasional and sporadic contact. They both were pleasantly surprised when Shawn adopted them, and even more surprised by his desire to walk with them through their freshmen year. This relationship has created opportunities for the accountability both students needed as they navigated this new season.
“Shawn is never pushy, but he sends me an encouraging text or verse from time to time. It is refreshing to see a text from someone back home when it has been a long week at school. Having an adult who isn’t your parents care about you is very impactful,” Grant said.
Kristin Cramer decided to adopt some grads because she understands the importance of continuing to invest in the lives of students after they leave the K-12 school system. As a middle school teacher, she has seen first-hand the importance of showing love and care to students. Throughout the year, she sends encouraging texts and care packages, attends important events and prays for her students. Even her daughters draw or color pictures to send to her grads.
Over the years, her family has experienced several meaningful moments with their grads. They’ve been able to witness big moments like the day one of their students got married. They’ve been able to support their students at various sporting events, reminding them that they are loved and cared for.
One of their students, Carlie Salinas, wasn’t expecting to be so impacted by Adopt-a-Grad, but just knowing someone is constantly praying for her fills her with such encouragement and joy. She’s reminded through each text or note of encouragement that she is cared for by the body of Christ. It was something she didn’t know she would need after graduation, but it has become something she can’t imagine her college experience without.
This Sunday is Adopt-a-Grad Sunday. Tables will be set up in the Grand Hall near Ministry Team Central, and you will have the opportunity to partner with one (or more) of our graduating seniors. Would you consider walking alongside these students to remind them that they are cared for by the Body of Christ?