From Teacher Pip, Director of the Deep Roots program:
Jesus is doing BIG things at Canopy Life. In a post on March 21, we told you a little bit about our Deep Roots program, and today we want to give you a closer look into how the program works.
Last term, Canopy Life students learned about how God is their Father. Every three–four weeks, we begin a new unit that revolves around ONE BIG IDEA. Each unit has a simple, memorable bottom lines and a memory verse.
My Father is Good (Psalm 86:5)
My Father is Able (Ephesians 3:20–21)
My Father is Always With Me (Joshua 1:9)
My Father is Pleased With Me (Romans 8:1)
How is this curriculum unique from other discipleship curriculums?
Students don’t just learn the big idea—students are intentionally challenged to apply it to what they are learning in all of their Creative Arts classes!
How does that big idea relate to what the students are learning?
Here’s an example: In the unit My Father Is Pleased with Me, we explained that the reason God is pleased with us is because Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins on the cross. So the kids made a cross. But not just any ‘ole arts & crafts cross. For this cross, we used oil pastels to learn about a sgraffito technique and positive/negative space.
We also talked about how God sees us through the eyes of Jesus; therefore, we should see ourselves and others through the eyes of Jesus too. When he looks at us, God sees his children. He sees righteousness, not our sin. For this lesson, the kids learned about value and shading and drew remarkably realistic eyes to remind them that God is pleased with them.
We ended the term with the story of the Prodigal Son. You can read more about this lesson in our blog post from April 13.
It’s true that some of this is quite complex and heavy content for nine–twelve year olds. However, in reality, many of our kids (like kids everywhere) deal with things that are unfathomable to us. Kids need to believe the truth that their Father is good, that he is able to carry them through difficult times, and that, no matter what, God is pleased with them!
How do we measure the success of our Deep Roots program?
We constantly get to see transformation happening in the kids that God is bringing about through Deep Roots. Whether it’s remembering a bottom line when faced with a challenge or putting it into action by helping a classmate, our students are constantly recalling what takes place in class. Canopy’s own sweet flower, Rose, is a great example of what God is doing through the programs at Canopy Life.
Over the course of last year, Rose (then in Class 4) revealed things to the Canopy Life staff about her past that was heartbreaking. Canopy Life is a residential school and our mission is for our students to feel safe and comfortable. We want to create an environment where they can share difficult things with us and be provided guidance and support. When we began to notice that Rose would become unfocused and distant at the beginning and end of terms, we knew something was up. Through Rose’s bravery in sharing what was on her heart about returning home, Canopy Life has been able to help guide her family to create a home life that resembles the nurturing, safe place that Canopy is for her.
After Christmas, when Rose returned to school to begin Class 5, she was so joyful. She began the term determined to do well. But we quickly realized that Rose was really struggling in her heart. She was distracted again. She wasn’t finishing her schoolwork. Her demeanor was less than joyful. Rose had made so much progress in Class 4, and to see her return to her old behavior was discouraging.
Yet, through Deep Roots, the loving home environment, the commitment of her family and global mentors to be active in her life, and counseling by our incredible staff, God is moving in Rose’s life to shape her into the young lady he has created her to be.
We’ve discovered that Rose loves dance class. Her joy abounds when she is dancing, and she’s great at it! Not only does she love it, but she excels at retaining and executing the choreography. We truly believe God can move through this discipline to bring a unique joy and confidence! Our messy little flower is blossoming into something so beautiful.
Rose is changing every day. In January, she had walls built up high and strong around her little heart. Little by little, those walls have been crumbling, and we are beginning to see our joyful Rose again! During a Deep Roots lesson, we were able to take the girls aside and talk to them about their worth—how God is pleased with them and sees them through the eyes of Jesus This truth seemed to resonate with Rose. During the lesson, we talked to the girls about comparison. We asked them if there has ever been a time that they felt unloved. The vulnerability in the room was heart breaking, but so sweet, and when we asked the girls what God was teaching them through the lesson, Rose let out a big sigh, and said, “I learned that even when my heart is hurting, I should be kind to others.”
The transformation in Rose is overflowing into her schoolwork and how she treats others. She’s serving cheerfully and taking her responsibilities seriously. We are thankful that God is moving in her life. We also know that her transformation wouldn’t be possible without the partnership that exists between Canopy Life staff and Rose’s family. God uses us to move in the lives of his children and it is humbling to be a part of his plan. Now, more than ever, we are sure that God is active in making our Deep Roots program a success.