The Power and Grace of a Community

Categories: Alumni Memories, DiscoveryBound Tags: ,

By Diane Witters, National Alumni Board

Diane’s son, Shane, during his National Leadership Council service trip in Peru. Behind him is the wall his class built for a community greenhouse as part of their work there.
Diane’s son, Shane, during his National Leadership Council service trip in Peru. Behind him is the wall his class built for a community greenhouse as part of their work there. Photo: Robiny Jamerson

If I could give the world a single gift, it would be a young batch of dynamic spiritual thinkers and healers who are ready to take on humanity’s challenges with fresh, perceptive solutions. If I could give today’s young people a single gift, it would be the deep contentment that comes through using their distinct talents to offer inspired service to others.

My desire to give these two gifts is at the heart of why I’m excited about the far-reaching potential of the National Leadership Council (NLC). This is a four-year program of DiscoveryBound for teens who are ready to explore new avenues for practicing Christian Science and who want a taste of how a service perspective can add richness and depth to their own lives.

“So much of NLC focused on how we can serve others. I realize it fostered a desire in me to keep giving to my community now that I’m out of college.” This was what our son, Kynan (NLC 2010), said when I asked which aspects of the experience he now prizes the most. Our son, Shane (NLC 2013), highlighted the confidence he gained for public speaking and for sharing unique ideas and spiritual inspiration with peers.

They both mentioned how much they loved embracing the world in their prayers. This was a focused exercise that became more vital during their NLC international trip, when they reached out to a group of locals abroad and joined them to accomplish a community-directed project. Their practical prayers continued to deepen through the senior-year curriculum, which uses The Christian Science Monitor as a tool for understanding the roots of global problems and then lifting thought to creative answers.

When a friend recommended that our older son apply for the NLC program, I hesitated. How would he fit this into a full high school agenda? Would we have to compromise our top-tier family priorities: dinners together, fairly frequent outdoor adventures and unscheduled time for the boys to simply appreciate friends, good conversation and unplugged/screen-free stillness? The fact is that the thoughtfully designed NLC program requires a sincere commitment of energy, time and follow-through; teens who thrive here often have to make choices about what they can realistically manage.

Was this four-year experience a cakewalk for our family? Far from it. But I realize now – what better can we offer our teens than life-shaping challenges that allow them to ask deep questions, grow closer to God, and explore who they are and what they uniquely have to give?

A key parenting question I faced was how to help my kids find (and BE!) strong role models. While NLC isn’t a magic remedy for a host of teen struggles that would try to impose themselves on families, the supportive mentoring and out-of-comfort-zone experiences allow space for old fears, limitations and unproductive habits to fall away. Each year provided opportunities for our boys to persistently grow in character, plan ahead and take initiative to tackle team and personal goals, feel a sense of balance in their active lives that made room for prayer (for themselves and each other), and develop a heart for inspired leadership.

NLC is about the power and grace of a community nurturing teenagers. This includes the class leaders and adult mentors who value, guide and companion with the teens, sharing insights from their own spiritual growth. The core of this community is the close-knit family of NLC classmates who pull together to implement a variety of collaborative projects, encourage each other, and celebrate healing during the rough spots and joys of their high school years.

If you want to consider being part of this community – as a participant, mentor, leader or financial contributor – please click here to learn more.

We’re opening up our arms wide to embrace all NLC alumni at the upcoming 60th Reunion at the A/U Ranches in Colorado, August 21-24. All NLC participants, as well as parents, mentors and leaders who lovingly encouraged them through the program, are welcome to this fun, inspiring event. It would be great to connect to you again! Learn more

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