I’m Karen Witcher, director of Cedar Springs Weekday School, a ministry and Home Missions partner of CSPC. Have you ever encouraged someone at a low point in life? Telling people, ‘Look, you’re going to be okay, God’s going to get you to the other side of this’ is an honor- one God gives me regularly in this job. You see, I was married for 18 years, then experienced divorce- my sons were only 12 and 3 at the time. For 8 years after that, I was a single mom. Toward the end of that time, Kerry came into my life. We met on E-Harmony and we’re two of the least likely people you’d ever think would do that! We married a year later, in 2011, which was when I moved to Knoxville. I’ve been part of Cedar Spring Weekday School for almost 10 years, and I’ve been the director the past seven. We have a lot of students who are going through, or have already gone through, a divorce situation. I meet lots of single moms and dads. Time and time again, I’ve had opportunities to minister to these families- especially comforting the parents in the middle of it. I can say ‘Here’s my story’ and let them know life won’t feel like such a challenge forever- that God is at work, and He’s worth looking to because He does have a plan for your future. When our staff or I walk with these families through this type of journey and others, we’re often privileged to see the hope and encouragement return to their faces. To see God use such a heartbreaking time in my life to glorify Him now is amazing.
Many people think everyone who enrolls at the Weekday School attends CSPC for church, but CSPC families make up only 20 percent. Thirty-four percent of our roughly 220 students are unchurched, so it’s a mission field! That’s why I’ve loved seeing God better align us with CSPC’s Home Missions efforts recently. We’ve had a long-standing scholarship program that has met the needs of many families over the last 56 years. A new aspect of our scholarship program, called “Loving His Lambs”, is where we’re seeking out students who face socio-economic struggles, local international families with language barriers, or families dealing with other challenges to provide a Christian education experience that their child wouldn’t otherwise have access to. That has us working closely with other mission partners -Compassion Coalition, Restoration House, CSPC’s ESL and sports ministries, to name a few- to get referrals. Through this and our general scholarships, we may provide a great percentage of monthly tuition cost for families most in need.
There are so many ways the staff and I invite you to pray for Cedar Springs Weekday School! First, we’d love to see more CSPC members become volunteers in our ministry outreach. That can look like serving as a “Loving His Lambs” mentor, guest readers in classrooms, serving as a “Loving His Lambs Angel” by assisting at times with family needs, adopting a teacher who could use encouragement throughout the school year, or serving as a guest speaker at school-age care chapel, to name a few. Pray also for our staff and our students’ families as they partner and form relationships. So many families are experiencing challenges and our team is working to help them through issues like parenting and behavior struggles. All our staff teach a wonderful behavior management curriculum titled “Conscious Discipline” by Dr. Becky Bailey. This program establishes in each classroom a “School Family”, knowing a safe and caring classroom promotes brain function. It also teaches problem-solving skills and emotional connections so students can master the self-control, conflict resolution know-how, social skills, and resiliency needed throughout life. We’re seeing God bring good fruit from that. And pray for CSPC to continue to embrace our general scholarship and “Loving His Lambs” programs. You can even make us your charity of choice if you shop Amazon Smile, enroll in the Kroger Community Rewards program, or make general Weekday School donations to assist with scholarships. Of course, our main desire is for our families to know Christ, so that’s the biggest way you can pray for us- that the students who attend will get to know Jesus and be able to share about Him when they leave our program. We have many children bringing the Word into their homes through Bible stories and memory verses they share. When you see children leaving for the day and quoting their Bible verses for the week, or you see students who’ve been with us over several years coming to accept the Lord, that is such a beautiful thing. Please pray for more of it!