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START with Joy

In the START program at Feed Lake Highlands, we have an acronym that guides our strategy for ministry with our 6th-8th graders: J.O.Y.  Jesus. Others. Yourself. There is a hierarchy of importance in J.O.Y. Jesus comes first.  Others are second.  You come last.  This is a memorable way to understand what we do at START.  We want to help our preteens and young teenagers put Jesus first through Bible study and lessons on prayer.  We put others second through regular service activities.  We put you last through monthly recreational field trips.

Serving others is important because it teaches our students important virtues such as humility, compassion, and empathy.  During the 2018-2019 school year, we accomplished several meaningful service projects. In October, we purchased and decorated pumpkins that we delivered to a local nursing home.  In December, we learned about effective communication and listening skills and practiced those skills as we listened to the important stories of older adults in an assisted living apartment complex in Dallas. In April, we decorated flower pots and planted flowers. These floral arrangements were then delivered to homebound members of Lake Highlands UMC and to Audelia Manor, a local Dallas Housing Authority apartment community where we have an ongoing weekly ministry through Lake Highlands UMC.

We have done plenty of fun activities through START.  We have jumped at a trampoline park, flown kites at local parks, and recently played video games at a local Arcade.  We have lots of fun. But, fun isn’t our ultimate goal. J.O.Y. is our ultimate goal. And the more we practice J.O.Y. the more we see joy manifested in the lives of our students.  Jesus said, “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11)