Abi and Paige: social media, Christian schools and a second chance

School Principal Brendan Corr says “Let me share a story from my own school of the powerful potential of Education to transform the lives of young people.”

Abi and Paige were typical young people. They were twins fortunate to have been born and raised in a “good” middle-class family with parents who loved them and provided well for them. They attended a “good” school and were doing well. They were popular and successful. Life was positive and their future was bright.

Like many similar kids, Abi and Paige began to dabble in the world of social media. They soon developed quite a following. They were “liked” by more and more of their friends and then by more and more of their peers and then by more and more people who they didn’t even know – strangers who wanted to look over their lives and in some way into their hearts.

Whether for reasons of jealousy or competition or simply meanness, Abi and Paige found themselves targets for criticism and rejection from others.

This was all aligning with the mantra of the modern world: you can be, no – you should be – a success. You are what you post. Your approval is in the hands of your followers.

But this didn’t match what was going on for them in real life. Whether for reasons of jealousy or competition or simply meanness, Abi and Paige found themselves targets for criticism and rejection from others. Things spiraled to the point where they didn’t want to go to school, where they couldn’t go to school.

It was then that they enrolled in our Christian school.

The family had always been “Christian” in the sense they knew about God and believed that He existed. But the girls had never met people who they felt really knew God in an authentic and personal way.

By hearing teachers talk about how faith changes the way we think about every subject, through the daily devotions in their Home Room class, by sensing the presence of God in the Chapel services, by having teacher’s care for them and spend time outside of lessons answering questions and encouraging them – not just wanting to know about them but wanting to really know them – they discovered that their identity was not defined by their family, not by their social media following, not even by their own sense of adequacy (or inadequacy), but was totally and entirely defined by Jesus. That He knew them: the real “them” that no-one else knew or even seemed to want to know. By the faithful sharing of the truth of the Gospel and by the demonstration of sacrificial love they came to know that life wasn’t about who was following them but about who they were following.

This changed everything for them. They committed to follow Jesus and let him into their lives. They started to live for Him and to attend JOLT – Jesus Over Lunch Time. In a short time their life in Christ began to allow these 2 young women to become “influencers” of an entirely different kind. They began to share the love of Christ that had changed them with the people around them, including their family. They began to share their story and to speak their faith, with conviction and with passion.

Before too long they became a part of the very ministry of Christ’s grace through the College that they had experienced themselves. Paige and Abi became part of the foundation in our College of the ministry of the Gospel and over the 3 years they were in our School, and in the years that followed, they were instrumental in other students experiencing the transformative love of Jesus. They are now completing qualifications to become teachers themselves so they can have the same impact on students that their teachers had on them.

This story of genuine transformation is far from unique and it speaks to the power of a new move of God through a renewed part of our society.

I’m talking about Christian Schools.

All around the country, in fact, all over the world, there is a Christian movement that is part of God reaching out His care to society’s youngest. Christian Schools in this context are evangelical, low-fee, non-government schools, sometimes the ministry of a local church assembly but increasingly run by a trans-denominational not-for-profit company.

Over the last 30-40 years, Christian Schools staffed by passionate Christians teachers and administrators, have been steadily growing in number and in size so that now in Australia a little over 10% of all students are attending a Christian school.

These schools span the denominational spectrum and range in size from schools numbering their students in the dozens to schools numbering in the thousands.

They all have one thing in common.

Each of these schools are intent on providing an education for their students that allows the good news of the Gospel to be a transformative influence in their lives for now and for eternity and every Principal of every Christian school could share their own version of this encouraging account.

While Christians are right to have concerns over what our young people are being taught or are being exposed to in their education, both formal and informal, we should not forget that God continues to seek and save those who are lost and to prepare a new generation of workers for His purpose.

Thank God for the work He is doing in Christian Schools.

Brendan Corr is Principal of Australian Christian College, Marsden Park, Sydney NSW