School spirit shines
It’s Friday and the bell has just gone for lunch. Over 40 high school girls pile into an empty classroom where several Year 12 students wait to meet and share God’s word with them.
This is Shine, a student-run group at Thomas Hassall Anglican College, where Christian students are taking up their responsibility to share the gospel with others. The lunchtime group demonstrates what’s truly at the heart of Christian schooling – students being given the gospel and then being equipped to share it with others.
Rebecca and Amelia Lin, twins in Year 12, are two of Shine’s leaders and have had this role for over a year. When they speak about Shine, their faces light up with excitement as they share the ways God is growing younger girls in their faith.
“It’s so encouraging to see all of the girls, they come every week and just want to hear about Jesus,” Rebecca Lin says. “They always have heaps of questions and they’re so excited to find out things. One girl asked, ‘Is God trying to test us to see if we will accept him?’ They’re really thinking about [faith].”
Adds Amelia: “It’s encouraging when they talk about the things that they learn from the weeks before. They’re learning about Jesus, and they seem to be enjoying it as well.”
Thomas Hassall Anglican College is delighted to see student-led groups such as Shine meeting together. The chaplain of the school, Mr Stuart Tye, and other Christian staff members ensure that students are given support in numerous ways, for which the girls are thankful.
“Establish” is one example of this support. Designed to equip students on a regular basis, Establish gathers the keen Christian students together and takes them through Bible teaching and leadership skills.
“What we try and do is help them to feel comfortable to share their faith in their peer groups at school,” Mr Tye says. “We want them to grow in understanding and have opportunities to develop.”
Amelia Lin says Establish is helpful “because we use those skills to write talks and Bible studies that the girls can understand”.
Adds Rebecca: “And the talks and Bible studies are better than what we were doing before.”
Teachers also support in other ways, such as attending student-run Christian groups, offering to lead when study becomes too demanding, and helping existing leaders train up the next generation of students to take charge.
“At school there are so many opportunities to talk to people about Jesus,” Rebecca Lin says. “I think sometimes it can be more effective to talk about Jesus student to student. Obviously teachers help, but I think the girls like coming and talking to us.”