One of the most joyous days in Pacific Palisades is Calvary Christian School’s annual Community Service Kick-Off Celebration. On October 18, the school celebrated its 14th year of service to others in the Calvary Church sanctuary with preschool through eight-grade students present.
The school is dedicated to academic excellence and the development of Christian values that prepare students for leadership and service. Service is part of the fabric of the school and each year students are reminded about the prior year’s successes, but also learn about service plans for the coming year.
After the Boy Scouts led the Pledge of Allegiance, Head of School Vince Downey reminded students that “Jesus came to the Earth not to be served, but to serve.”
“We are blessed where we live and where we go to school,” he said, urging students to understand that when they give, they also receive joy. Downy quoted Proverbs 15:30: “Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.”
Calvary has supported Soldiers’ Angels, a nonprofit that has worked with military families, deployed service members, wounded service members and veterans for many years.
For the past three years, Calvary has worked with LAPD Officer Ryan White, who is the senior lead officer for the military liaison program. White was recognized by Calvary for his efforts.
“We have 2,400 veterans in the police force, 245 active reserve officers and 50 officers currently serving,” said White, who thanked the students for their letters and care packages sent to members of the military.
“I’m humbled and proud to be part of Calvary’s program,” he said, asking the kids if they knew the motto on the side of the LAPD cars: “Protect and serve.”
“It’s important that we stayed connected to those serving,” White continued. “Your packages are going to police officers serving the world. The soldiers are thankful.”
White, who goes into classes to speak with students, said he was asked if he was afraid when he was in the Marines. He then recited four stanzas of a Walter Wintle poem he had to memorize when he was in school “If you think you are beaten, you are. . .If you think you dare not, you don’t . . .If you like to win, but you think you can’t…It is almost certain you won’t.”
All grades will once again work with Soldiers’ Angels.
Then a special guest, speed painter Lance Brown, took the stage (visit: paintedchrist.com). All watched as he painted a portion of the black canvas white. He painted a person who seemed to be in anguish in white. After a few more white streaks on the edges of the canvas, he painted blue over the individual. He turned the canvas upset down and it was a drawing of Jesus looking at a small child.
“I love sports and I was always drawing sports figures. In college I learned to draw even better. But I’m color blind,” Brown said, noting that his eyes are always playing tricks on him and that things are always changing colors.
After college he was working as a graphic artist, watching a lot of television and “I felt like I was wasting my life.” Yet he didn’t feel he could be an artist. Then his church in Texas had an event for parishioners to show artwork featuring Jesus. Brown participated, and the pastor asked him if he would come and do something in front of the congregation.
“I said absolutely not,” Brown said, but even though he was terrified, he did it anyway and it was the start of Painted Christ.
He has now traveled to Germany, the Ukraine and other countries around the world. “I never thought when I started painting that God would use me this way,” said the father of three. “But ask, what is your gift? What is it that God is wanting you to do?”
“Even if you have a disability, God still uses you,” Brown said.
The youngest Calvary students will work with Operation Christmas Child, packing shoe boxes of special gifts for the needy. First graders will work with the YMCA Ketchum Downtown preschool and second grade will work with the Children’s Bureau.
Third grade will focus on working with the elderly (Wise Healthy & Aging), and fourth grade will help local food banks. Fifth grade will support children with special needs (Shane’s Inspiration), while sixth graders work to understand foster care (Olive Crest).
Seventh grade will work with the Hope of the Valley Mission, and eighth grade will work with Operation Gratitude. The middle school classes also collaborate with the Casa Hogar Sion Orphanage in Mexico, continuing a tradition since the inception of the community service program.