Sumika might be a shy high school student, but during her time on Jr. Leadership Task Force, her insights on spiritual growth demonstrated that character and a mature perspective are what count when it comes to learning about being a leader.
Jr. LTF is preliminary program for young adults who may go on to participate in Leadership Task Force, designed by Family Peace Association to provide participants with a unique international experience that develops spiritual growth and lessons on leadership to carry into their families, communities, and nations.
Sumika talks about having a higher perspective during leadership program
During the summer Jr. LTF program, Sumika had the goal to “take on a higher perspective.” Her introverted tendencies once made it difficult to break out of her comfort zone to approach people and share about the service project she would be going on to participate in later that summer in Indonesia. However, she shared how she was able to overcome her challenges saying, “I wanted to have a positive attitude and be motivated by the aspiration to live for the sake of others. I realized that by having humility and gratitude, I could think from a different perspective outside my own. It is so important to have the right motivation of heart.”
As Sumika has expressed, when developing leadership capacities in young people, it is essential to instill values that drive them to come up with solutions that may not primarily benefit themselves, but rather be motivated by a greater good. By thinking of the people she is serving, Sumika could look outside only what made her comfortable and reach a new level of maturity that gave her a glimpse into what she called “God’s perspective.”
Piljin is a new high school graduate who participated in a five-day fundraising campaign to pay his way through Family Peace Association’s leadership program for young adults. His story is one of challenge, leadership and maturity that gave him what he called “spiritual strength” to grow as a brother in his family and a leader in his community.
Piljin’s fundraising experience proved to be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of his young life. He describes the process of fundraising as a “mental challenge.”
Piljin expresses his gratitude to his family as a high school graduate and participant in Jr. Leadership Task Force
“We talked about challenges throughout the week, but it’s only through challenge that we grow. In one sense, I’d like to believe that overcoming challenge during the fundraising allowed me to see the people and the area I live in from a new perspective.”
Every day in transit between his home and school, Piljin crosses paths with many people, typically without a word. But by fundraising, he was put into a position where he could share why he cared to be a part of a leadership program in the first place.
“When you’re out there, you’re conveying your beliefs to complete strangers. When you’re talking to people you have to explain your beliefs and values. Opportunities like that, bottom line, are good chances to grow. It helps affirm your beliefs, conviction, motivation and faith.”
When it comes to leadership development, character, values and a healthy life of faith are all part of becoming a leader who can use their conviction and determination to help other people.
“Fundraising is definitely a spiritual, internal exercise,” said Piljin. “Through challenges you’re able to learn and grow and figure out where you stand and be honest with yourself.”
Jr. Leadership Task Force offers a summer program, providing middle and high school students the opportunity to participate in a unique experience of spiritual growth and lessons on leadership they can carry into their families, schools and communities.
The 12-14 year-old Core Values Academy class in Seattle, Washington spent the 2017 academic year exploring their identity and destiny.
In May, the class and their mentors completed an overnight hike to Talapus Lake in Washington. “The purpose of our hike is to reflect and ponder about our God-given destiny as we lay under the stars. Each person has a unique way through which he or she can contribute to God’s work,” said Kenshu Aoki.
The class worked together to prepare for the hike: creating a list of essentials, assigning responsibilities and checking their equipment. They trekked through snow-covered trails, set up camp in the snow banks, built a campfire, and prepared their meals. The clear skies allowed them the opportunity to think about their relationship with God and their role in His work.
Nature is one of the best environments for our spiritual growth. In nature we can discover who we are, challenge our limitations, and reaffirm the purpose and values of our lives.
Why don’t you take a moment in nature to think about your God-given destiny. Share with us what you discover in the comments below.
CVA Principal Maruko Breland thanks volunteers for service to CVA students
The Core Values Academy is a weekly program that provides children age 4-16 a place to reinforce and develop values that they are cultivating in the family.
In ways, Core Values Academy resembles a family – mentors are like elder brothers and sister, and many teachers are parents of students. Every week mentors and teachers are taught valuable lessons on how to put values like “living for the sake of others into practice.”
“Being an older brother or sister is one of the greatest ways to come to understand and resemble God’s Heart,” CVA Principal Maruko Breland said at the opening of a teacher and mentor training program in Seattle, Washington. “God doesn’t just see a person where they’re at now. He’s sees where they came from and where they will get to.”
Teachers and mentors discussed their insights and experience, as volunteer teachers, developed their capacity through presentations on classroom management and professionalism, and wrote out class expectations.
Some mentors reflected on the challenges in the classroom. One mentor said he has learned the importance of embodying the values that they are teaching. Another jokingly said his patience has been stretched to a new capacity.
What lessons have you learned in your family relationships about God?
Soon Il Higashino, received the Young Naturalist Award from the American Museum of Natural History when she was a high school student from Ossining, NY. The prize is given to only 2 out of 800 applicants across the nation. Her research on the redback salamanders is so ground-breaking that she may be given the chance to name the new species of bacteria that she discovered as a contributor of their population decline.
In addition to this achievement, Soon Il had a 4.0 grade point average, was active in heading school clubs, worked a part-time job and helped with her local Core Values Academy.
She and her father are the first to admit that great accomplishments don’t come easy. “This year (2015), I faced many challenges: in school, with friends, in my family, etc..,” Soon Il said. “Sometimes, it would get so difficult that I would ask myself, “Why am I doing this? Why should I do this when friends my age aren’t?”
But there is one thing that has carried Soon Il through the year – her love for God. “Whenever, I asked myself this question, which came up a lot, I always arrived at the same answer: because of God,” she reflected. “If I didn’t know who God was, I wouldn’t be doing all of the things I’m doing now; in other words, I wouldn’t have challenged myself in so many different areas/subjects. I could’ve easily given up, saying that I had too many things to do, but I didn’t.”
Where does she get that motivation? She continues, “I couldn’t have done any of it without God and everyone (family, community, friends, etc.) always supporting me.”
Her parents make it a point to let her know that they are there for her; that they support her; and that they are ready, whenever she needs, to listen to her. They regularly tell her, “We love you. We trust you. And we are proud of you.”
They are also realistic about the challenges in life. Soon Il’s father reminds his children, “There are always new challenges after you overcome this one. Let’s see them as opportunities to grow.” Advice that he finds his daughter repeating back to him when he is facing hard times.
“In every struggle I face, I only need to remind myself of why I go,” reflected Soon Il. “Why am I doing this? I’m doing this for God, and God has done sooo many many things for us, and I want to do at least something to make God happy through my investment.”
Soon Il’s salamanders remind us that accolades are the icing on the cake. The real return is our growth and conviction forged in the fires of life’s challenges. And what better support to have in those moments than from your family.
by Nahmdoug Kim (Westpoint Military Academy Graduate)
I’ve never enjoyed being in the spotlight. Often times, I found myself just standing aside and being content to simply let things unravel or wait for others to do something. It takes a good deal of courage to make a decision or some kind of impact in a group, team, or community. For me, I have to dig way down to find that courage, and there have been plenty of times when I hadn’t found it and wish I had. But if you can become comfortable with uncertainties, chaos, and the looming possibility of failure, then you will find it much easier to take that action, or stick with that decision, or do whatever it is you are trying to do. So, pushing yourself to overcome that feeling of being uncomfortable will prepare you for much dire circumstances when the decision you make really matters.
You have 100% control over your attitude regardless of the situation and knowing that is what makes the difference. This thought helps me through difficult times, and I think you will find it valuable too.