Secondary: Encounter Days

ArushaTimes News

Zophar the Naamathite
“Yet if you devote your heart to him
and stretch out your hands to him,
if you put away the sin that is in your hand
and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,
then, free of fault, you will lift up your face;
you will stand firm and without fear.
You will surely forget your trouble,
recalling it only as waters gone by.
Life will be brighter than noonday,
and darkness will become like morning.
You will be secure, because there is hope;
you will look about you and take your rest in safety…”

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In His hand is the life of every creature
And the breath of all mankind.”
Job 11:13-15, 12:7-10

In the midst of his suffering, Job reminds us that the Earth is the handiwork of the Lord. If we look and listen, we see and hear the goodness and greatness of the Lord for it is He that gives us life. At John Knox Secondary School, “Encounter Days” are an invitation to encounter the Lord of all creation. Encounter Days are an opportunity for students to re-encounter each other and reform friendships that may have been distant over the summer.

During the first week of school, our school ventured to Belcarra, Port Moody. We had the privilege to be welcomed onto the traditional territory of the Tsleil Waututh and Coast Salish Peoples. We paddled traditional canoes and learned about their culture in an authentic way. Before we began paddling, students were invited to understand and respect the traditions of our Indigenous guides. On the water, we enjoyed the Coast Salish tradition of story-telling and on land students learned about the culturally significant, local forest plants that were used as food, medicine, clothing, and shelter. I was proud of our students’ respectful curiosity, which enabled us to learn more about Canada’s Indigenous history, culture, and perspectives. As we engage other cultures and ways of understanding the world with open minds and hearts, we remain firmly rooted in the truth of scripture and the love of Christ.

This experience was an important step as we move towards Truth and Reconciliation Day on September 30 and it is appropriate as disciples of Jesus, to begin that reconciliation with understanding. The damage of colonialism and racism towards Canada’s indigenous peoples has occurred over more than 400 years and continues to this day. The process of Truth and Reconciliation and healing will take time and effort as well. Our “Encounter Day” event was not an endpoint, but a meaningful step on the journey for many of us to begin forming relationships with our local indigenous neighbors and asking ourselves questions as part of this process.

Back on land, John Knox students were given time to reflect upon our responses to some of the stresses of the last year and what ways we feel encouraged to change our lives in the months to come. Afterward, we continued our school community building through fun team-building activities hosted by Pinnacle Pursuits.

The start of this school year has been accompanied with a sense of hope. It was a joy and a privilege to be able to come together as a school to celebrate. We more keenly appreciate these opportunities to be with one another after the challenges of the previous year. As I witnessed our students paddle across the bay and play in the fields of Belcarra, it filled my heart with joy to see their happiness, exuberance, and excitement to be together again. The Lord’s presence and pleasure was palpable. Like Job, our hope remains secure in Him.
Adam Wasik, Secondary Principal