Thursday, August 13, 2015

"We Love, Because He First Loved Us"

Dear Bethany families,

I hope that you all had a fun, restful and rejuvenating summer filled with lots of precious memories with your families. Our theme for the 2015-16 school year will be “Reflecting Christ,” and our selected Bible verse for the year comes from 1 John 4:19: “We love, because He first loved us.” Not only is this an easy verse to memorize, but it is an empowering verse for all of life.

Before we launch into this year, I wanted to share some thoughts for why we chose this theme, as well as a sampling of some of the exciting ministry opportunities that Bethany is launching this year.

“We Love, Because He First Loved Us”

Though God’s love can be defined in a variety of ways, there are two particular aspects of His love that are extremely comforting to me. First, God’s love is infinite. In mathematics, we know that when infinity is divided by any other number (no matter how large), it still remains infinity. Therefore, if God’s love is infinite, this means that God loves each of you and your children, infinitely. There is no limit to His love!

Second, God’s love for his children is unconditional. This means that neither you nor your children can ever stumble too many times or fall so far that our Savior is no longer there to catch you.

So if we truly believe that God loves us with THAT sort of love, how should it impact our lives?

Finding Freedom & Value in Christ’s Love

When we realize that we are secure in Christ’s love despite our faults, we are freed from the temptation to find our value and identity based solely upon our performance. We don’t need to look for validation in the opinions of others. Our God, who is perfectly wise, has already set a price tag on our lives, and He did so on the Cross! And if God loves us that much, the flawed opinions of others lose their power over us.

In Christ, we can pursue excellence in all things out of a sense of gratitude for His love, rather than mere obligation to His laws. There is a huge difference. A person who seeks to gain God’s favor through unfailing effort and obedience will eventually find religion to be slavery, because we can never measure up to God’s perfect standards. But a person who experiences the love of God in the midst of struggles and failures (and we all have them!) will actually want to please God out of an abundance of gratitude.

I wholeheartedly believe that this brand of Christ-centered love makes Bethany special and unique as a school. We seek to love others out of the overflowing abundance of God’s love for us. We strive to ensure that each and every child is loved — not based on performance — but upon the model of Christ’s infinite and unconditional love expressed toward us, even in the midst of our own flaws and failures. When we reflect Christ’s love toward others, we discover the key to authentic joy in the Christian life. We find joy in loving the lowly and the broken, because Christ loved us when we were lowly and broken. At Bethany, we want our students to experience the joys of this brand of selfless compassion and charity.

Bethany’s Partnership with Mission of Hope

Out of this desire, I am excited to announce that Bethany is launching a partnership with Mission of Hope — a Christian ministry located in Haiti. Specifically, we will be sponsoring the Village of Hope Orphanage, which currently houses 62 kids. Each class will be building relationships with a few of these precious orphans. Our classes will receive a full personal profile on each kid; we will develop pen-pal relationships with them; and we will seek to ensure that these orphans are equipped with all the back-to-school supplies necessary for success. In addition, instead of hosting our annual Boosterthon fall fundraiser, we will be hosting a “Feed the Need” campaign drive, in which Bethany’s students will be packing more than 10,000 meals to feed malnourished children. Half of these meals will go to the students who are located on Mission of Hope’s campuses. Last year, several of Bethany’s teachers, parents, and students visited the main campus, and they were greatly impacted by this ministry. This upcoming fall and spring, several others are planning to go on mission trips to their main campus. During these trips, our students will meet their pen-pals and see how their generosity has helped to enrich the lives of these children.

If you would like to learn more about Mission of Hope and its impact upon the lives of Haitian children, please watch the following videos. They are truly inspiring!

The Story of Mission of Hope & Village of Hope

The Personal Story of Jean Marc (a rescued orphan)

If you would like to get involved in the “Feed the Need” campaign drive, please contact Marne MacPhee at If you are interested in participating in future mission trips to the Mission of Hope campus, please contact Amanda Mason at In either case, this is an extraordinary opportunity to help shepherd your child’s heart in “reflecting Christ” to a hurting world.

It is my sincere prayer that this year’s ministry and service projects will have a profound impact upon the hearts and minds of each and every child who calls Bethany home.

“We love, because He first loved us!”

See you soon!

Sam Kastensmidt
Bethany Christian School

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