Heritage Academy was recently featured in Inside ASI's Spring/Summer 2009 issue. The article, Pointing To Christ by Debbie Battin Sasser, describes how Heritage Academy students witness through disaster relief. Below are several excerpts from the article.
"After Hurricane Ike left a trail of devastation along the Texas and Louisiana coast, thousands of people were in need of clean water, food, clothing, and basis supplies. Among the first to respond was a trained disaster relief group from Heritage Academy in Monterey, Tennessee. Soon after the hurricane passed, a cadre of more than 40 students and faculty arrived in Orange City, Texas.
Disaster relief exemplifies the mission of Heritage Academy. 'In every aspect of disaster relief, young people have the opportunity to live their faith, experience the Holy Spirit working in other people's lives and in their own, and share Christ in tangible ways,' says Debbie Baker, HA President. 'I can't think of another ministry that fits so well with our mission.'
All Heritage Academy students and faculty have completed Red Cross CPR, basic first aid, and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training available through the United States Department of Homeland Security.
Hurricane Ike's aftermath was just the latest in a string of disaster relief efforts by Heritage Academy. When a tornado leveled the town of Lake Mak, Florida, an HA team helped clean up debris and assisted homeowners in recovering salvageable items. And when tornados struck Jackson, Tennessee, another HA group was quick to respond with tools and manpower to remove debris and complete several rebuilding projects. 'I have seen people lose everything and have learned to appreciate the small things that tend to be overlooked on a daily basis,' says HA student Sarah Unruh, who has not only served on two disaster relief teams but has led disaster relief training courses as well.
After Hurricane Katrina struck, an HA team traveled to Waveland, Mississippi to provide disaster relief in coordination with ACTS (Active Community Team Services), an ASI member organization that links entities such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Red Cross, or Salvation Army with volunteers from Pathfinder clubs, churches or school groups.
Later, HA students and faculty helped rebuild the New Orleans First Seventh-day Adventist church. 'I have learned that just as Jesus taught in the Bible, it is more blessed to give than receive. As I give my time and energy to help others, it has taught me to love others more,' says HA student Rachel Burton, who has participated in disaster relief projects and presented ICA (incidence Command System) workshops during her three years at school.
Disaster relief involvement is making young people strong citizens, developing their leadership skills, and increasing their desire to serve. 'We need God to show us what is right to prepare youth for the ministry He has for them - not as we see fit, but as He leads,' says Baker. Nathan Traxler, an HA senior, explains his experience this way: 'People think that you must speak to somebody in order to teach them of Christ. I have learned that it is completely different. A life is more readily changed through example rather than through words.'