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Northwest Christian School
Dear NCS family,

No question about it:  we miss our students.  With each passing day, the campus seems more empty than the day before.  And, it is true--you hear us saying it in our video chapels, in online classrooms, and on our social media-- we miss our students.

But, I am going to be honest.  Not all of them.  While I genuinely do miss almost every single Crusader, there may be one or two that I do not miss.  Sound cruel?  Permit me to explain.

Levi H.  I do not miss him.   Why?  I have not had to miss him.  Last week, Mrs. Underwood, Mr. G, and I were delivering free Baskin Robbins ice cream to the first group of students who met my chapel challenge and sent me a picture of themselves reading God's word.  You probably saw us on social media--we were driving a school van all over Phoenix, dropping off multiple quarts of ice cream, and encouraging students to stay immersed within the Bible.  Unbeknownst to us, having just stopped at a house near which he lives, Levi carefully, covertly crept into the back of the van and hid himself just behind my seat.  After we had pulled away from the house, suddenly Levi jumps up and shouts "Gotcha!"  A couple of things immediately happened in that single, heart-stopping moment.  First, the little bit of my hair that is not already gray turned instantly gray as a decade of my life expectancy disappeared.  Second, Levi's expected date of graduation was pushed out two to three years--we're not exactly sure yet because Mr. James, our dean, is still calculating how many detentions the school handbook assigns to a student who stops the superintendent's heart.

But, please permit a bit more honesty.  While I may not miss Levi today ( for an obvious, clearly defensible reason), in that he is finishing his junior year, I know that I will miss him in just a short while.  It is part of a cruelly inevitable metamorphosis:  students become graduates, graduates become alumni, and our alumni become used by God in a myriad of ways.  Levi is no exception to this time-bound process.  Despite scaring the superintendent nearly to death, he is an outstanding young man.  There is no greater thrill than watching God using caring teachers, awesome parents, and His word to shape all of our students into who it is that He intends them to become... and Levi will truly be among our finest.

As we enter the final month of the school year, that is the theme of this particular edition of the Spotlight newsletter.  Over the last couple of weeks, I have had some wonderful conversations with recent alumni who have seen God working through them in remarkable ways...their stories are below.  In addition to reading those stories, you will have the opportunity to view "Senior Footprint" videos...our soon-to-be graduates virtually reflecting upon their time at the school.

So, a bit later today, you just might get a phone call about how your son needs to serve nearly 300 consecutive detentions for punking the superintendent.  Nevertheless, whether you get that call or not, know that God is surely at work in your student...and there is no one on this campus that doesn't see it, even me, the guy presently jump-starting his heart.  Students, I also want you to be encouraged.  As you read and watch these stories, I want you to know that there is a line between where you are today and who He is calling you to be...that line may seem dotted, a bit longer than you expected, or even perhaps crooked, but it is there.

Grateful for the opportunity to serve this school and your family,
Geoff Brown
Northwest Christian School
(623)225-5573 (cell)
Spotlight on Alumni
How Great Thou Art - Likewise Worship - Selfie Song

Justin Unger and Josh James are both Northwest Christian alumni.  They are also the leads within "Likewise Worship", a ministry dedicated to supporting worship ministers within their craft and within their ministry at churches across the country.  Recently, the two pulled together worship ministers that were in Covid quarantine and recorded this rousing rendition of "How Great Thou Art".  For more information on Likewise Worship, please click here.

Spotlight on Faculty

Borrowing a bit from "Frozen II", an empty campus was the perfect forum for "artistic" expression from a heartsick elementary principal missing her students...

Alumni Lacey James, Class of 2015, Helping to Battle Covid-19 in New York City

"People can feel love and when they are loved well, they seem to do much better."

"When I was in high school I was heavily involved in missions," says Lacey James. "I remember deciding to pursue nursing on a trip to Haiti. I knew I loved to travel and help people so I figured it was my best career option. Throughout college I questioned my choice because I was told I don't have the heart to become a nurse because I was in it for the 'free flights' and that nurses needed to know that they wanted to be a 'real' nurse. To be honest, I wasn't even sure what nursing entailed so I couldn't disagree. It wasn't until my last semester of college that I knew I was supposed to be a nurse. I was lucky enough to gain a residency in the emergency department of a level-one trauma center. It was then that I realized I didn't need to travel to third world countries to make a big difference. There were so many people suffering right where I was. In that moment I knew nursing was what God had for me. Looking back, I remember constantly praying about becoming a nurse. I never felt like God was giving me an answer, but I realize now He had answered me long ago in Haiti. We may not always get into things for the right reasons, or we may feel like we are motivated by something other than God, but I know God used my desire to travel and care for others to lead me to nursing."

When we caught up with Lacey James, class of 2015, she was exhausted. She had just completed her tenth consecutive 15-hour day, working with Covid-19 patients within a crowded NYC hospital.. "I heard that Lacey was in New York City, ground-zero for the coronavirus," explains superintendent Geoff Brown, "and I was not surprised in the least. I have watched her on dozens of missions trips--Haiti, Mexico--and her sense of adventure is underpinned by this profound compassion and a sincere love for following Christ."

"Every day is different," says Lacey of her adventure in NYC, "but I know that God placed me on my unit back home at Banner Hospital to prepare me for this. The culture here is completely different despite the fact that it is still the United States. Barely any of my patients speak English, and the language barrier can be very challenging. But one thing remains the same everywhere. These people can feel love and when they are loved well, they seem to do much better. They are very sick and it is mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting to work every single day in this setting. The process from getting on my bus to getting back to my room and properly decontaminating takes about fifteen hours which leaves minimal time to eat and sleep before I get up to do it all again. The other night I went into one of my patient's rooms every five minutes to adjust them and ensure that they were still getting enough oxygen. I have learned a lot here and I am very lucky to be here. I feel as if I have gained more from these people than I could ever give."

I asked Lacey what encouragement she might offer to other Crusaders. She answered, "Someone came up to me after caring for a patient together and said, 'You know something? Caring is contagious and after you arrived on this unit, I have learned to start caring for my patients more. Everyone has.' I realized then that people are watching you whether you like it or not. It doesn't matter your age, your background, or your experience, they are watching. You can take that opportunity and use it for good or bad, it's up to you. I am by far the youngest individual here and I might have the least experience.  I had so many doubts come to my mind when I thought I was supposed to go to New York, but my biggest apprehension was my youth.  At Northwest, you hear Bible verses all the time and sometimes they might mean nothing to you in that particular moment. One verse that I remember learning was I Timothy 4:12, 'Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity'. I can guarantee you that I am not great at all of these things, but I do my best and that's all we can do. You never know the impact your actions will have on others. In my time here many people have asked me if I was religious because of the way I care for these people. Something that has always frustrated me is the way that the gospel is often delivered. I've always said that the main thing Jesus spent his time on earth doing is loving others and you don't have to say anything to anyone about religion. People are watching...what you do matters."
Crusaders Charge into Summer Reading:  Summer 2020 Edition

Each summer, the Northwest Christian community comes together under the banner of "Crusaders Charge into Summer Reading".  Each Monday, beginning June 1st, Crusader families will receive an email which includes a link to both a video and a podcast (new this summer!) that will walk your family through the summer's reading theme.  For a sneak peek of this summer's "Crusaders Charge into Summer Reading" theme, watch the video preview above.
Spotlight on Seniors
Faculty and Staff Appreciation Week will look different!
But, you can still help!

Order a very special Mother's Day brunch for your family and help support 2020 Faculty and Staff Appreciation Week at the same time!  Enjoy a fantastic brunch from Northwest Christian sponsor M Culinary Concepts and a portion of the proceeds will go towards faculty appreciation efforts.  

Go to this link and use the code "NCSLOVESMOM".
Spotlight on Students

Under the direction of middle school choir director Jessica Gake, a middle school virtual choir came together this past week for a wonderful version of "Doxology (The Common Doxology, 1674)".

Willow Humes, Class of 2016, Prepares to Teach in Haiti

A heart full of compassion and a love of missions add up to two years of service to Haitian fifth graders

A quick review of the 2015/2016 yearbook would show alumni Willow Humes in a whole host of pictures.  She is a real source of pride for many of her former teachers and coaches:  an excellent student, spiritual leader on campus, and an Arizona all-star softball player that was a deeply involved Northwest Christian Crusader.  But, her deepest level of involvement in high school was the passion that shaped her future:  the Kids Kingdom orphanage in Imuris, Sonora.  "I have always had a heart full of empathy," explains Willow. "Before I knew about missions, I was baking cupcakes with my mom to bring downtown to the homeless population we have in Phoenix.  I found so much of myself when I started going to Kids Kingdom with Mr. G.  God revealed Himself through the light in the kiddos and adults there and that helped shape me and my aspirations today.  Each country that I visited, I saw more beauty and more of Gods love.  I also saw deep sadness and hurt I had not experienced in the previous countries. Every country and every individual I encounter holds a new piece of God's heart that allows me to understand Him more."

Eventually, between her experiences at Northwest Christian and Grand Canyon University, Willow came to realize that God was calling her into the field of education.  "My realization that God was calling me to become a teacher was gradual," she explains.  "With every country I visited, God slowly opened my heart to the idea of becoming an educator.  I believe that being a teacher is a ministry in and of itself, no matter the country and no matter my student's demographics. I pursued education with the intention of one day becoming a missionary.  Even if I were to stay in the States, I intended on being a teacher in a low income area at a Title-1 school."  But, as the Lord would lead after graduating from GCU this spring, Willow's teaching destination is within a community of desperately impoverished fifth grade students in rural Haiti.  How did the Lord redirect her heart from a Title-1 school to Haiti?  "My best friend, Lindsey!  We met during our freshman year of college.  She is from South Dakota and I did not even think people lived there!  We both shared a passion for missions and we initially planned to go to Haiti together.  But her plans changed and so I thought God was changing mine too.  But God kept enforcing His plan, while squashing any and all of my doubts.  Knowing I would be teaching fifth graders in a third-world country, even though all of my experience had been with juniors and seniors in high school, made me nervous.  Yet here I am, ready to see what piece of God's heart will be revealed to me through my fifth grade students in Haiti."

As Willow prepares to embark this fall upon her grandest adventure yet, she offered a bit of advice to current Crusaders:  "God's voice is not always loud.  While patiently and eagerly pursuing Gods purpose, it rarely comes in the form of  answers in the clouds, direct visions, or clear whispers of what He expects of you in your ear.  Often, God simply wants you to be still and observe the little nudges that He is giving you."

Spotlight on NXNW Student Films

Now showing!  The RightNow Media NCS landing page now includes the two latest NXNW student films from Cabin Fever Films and Northwest Christian School.  Log in and enjoy "The Rise and Fall of Death Chicken", a mockumentary about the great band that never was, and this year's intense film, "Scapegoat".

Spotlight on Seniors

Nicole Burleson, Class of 2017, Wins Biola University Film Festival 

God can use a fake band and a joke about a dead chicken?  You have to meet Nicole Burleson!

Yes, you read that correctly.  Somehow, the God we serve is big enough to use a fictitious band and dead chicken to accomplish His purposes.  

To describe Nicole Burleson, one most incorporate a whole host of adjectives (funny, creative, witty, edgy) that reflect a side of a Creator that we do not often discuss. "I have a picture in my office," explains superintendent Geoff Brown, "that Nicole took of a waterfall that I have hiked to many times.  It is a powerful image because for all the times that I have been to that waterfall, I have never seen it the same way that Nicole's picture shows.  I keep it in my office so that I can remember that in every circumstance that comes across my desk or in every decision that needs to be made, I have an opportunity to look at things consider other perspectives."

The Northwest Christian NXNW student film, "The Rise and Fall of Death Chicken", in which the main character is named "Nicole", was inspired by Nicole's creative and edgy sense of humor. Throughout high school, she would tell people that she was in a heavy metal band called "Death Chicken". The band, which never actually existed, gave rise to social media posts and actually generated excitement and hype. "Hype about music that you couldn't actually listen to," continues Geoff. "It was a joke but also it was Nicole's witty commentary on group-think and hype."

As Nicole prepares for her senior year at Biola University, she now realizes that her high school experiences were used by God to craft her direction. "I had always enjoyed creating films with my friends for the NXNW Film Festival that NCS throws every year," said Nicole. "I also loved being on the fall student film sets that Damon Evans directed and produced for NCS.   While I was on these film sets, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do but I knew I was comfortable with photography so I was always a 'behind the scenes' photographer.  Yet, as much as I love photography there was something about filming that felt different.  Being able to tell stories through visuals was almost a heightened form of the medium of photography that I had learned to love.  One of my friends told me that I was different when I was filming, they could see that I was meant to film.  It was with this encouragement and through the process of falling in love with film, thanks to the NCS film festivals and Damon's film sets, that I figured I had to major in Cinema."   This encouragement, matched with a series of Providential appointments, set her course for Biola. "I toured Biola and I loved the campus and the people there. They seemed genuine and they have a phenomenal film program. Once I got accepted, I still had to do another application to get into the film program. When I got accepted into this competitive program, I realized that was God's way of telling me that this was where I was meant to be."

From that point, Nicole's trajectory launched as she earned several key internships, worked as crew within film sets with celebrities like Jon Bon Jovi, and ultimately saw her documentary, a feature she filmed about the culture surrounding skateboarding, win the esteemed Biola Film Festival.  Nicole explains: "A really cool opportunity that I was fortunate to be a part of was 'Red Bull Rising Talent'. This was a photography workshop up at the Woodward West Extreme Sports Camp in Tehachapi, CA. Red Bull Energy Drinks sent eight photographers up to Woodward to learn how to shoot extreme sports for Red Bull. I was beyond honored to be one of these photographers. We learned how to light and shoot skateboarding, break-dancing, BMX biking, and mountain biking. One the last day, we were given challenges and got to shoot Red Bull athletes. It was probably the coolest thing I've ever done."

Nicole's advice to current Crusaders is pretty simple and reflects the Nicole that her teachers so fondly recall: "Don't give up on your passions, even if people tell you that you can't make money doing it. Living isn't just about making money. You don't have to hurry up and figure out what you want to do with your life, you'll figure it out in time. Life isn't a race, everyone is living life at their own pace and you don't need to compare your life to others. Even though it is really hard not to compare yourself to others and their level of success or the quality of their work, do your best to work on both yourself and your work."

Check out a "preview" of Nicole's winning documentary below...

Shred's Not Dead (Official Trailer)
Shred's Not Dead (Official Trailer)

Spotlight on Missions
Sadly, quarantine postponed the scheduled, late-April high school trip to Imuris, Sonora to visit the orphans and families of Kids Kingdom.  The trip had over seventy signed up!  But, Mr. G was able to deliver all the letters from Northwest Christian fourth grade students, gifts from high schoolers, and a personal letter to every orphan, written in Spanish, from a Northwest Christian alumni.
Spotlight on Seniors

Spotlight on Seniors

On the morning of Tuesday, April 21st, Northwest Christian seniors woke up to a surprise!  During the night, five teams of teachers and administrators spread out across the valley and placed "senior signs" on the front lawn of all of the class of 2020.  The signs were generously provided by Jared Yoder and Spectrum Graphics.  One of the senior sign bandits included senior English teacher, Dr. Amy Yoder, who was recovering from surgery! Dr. Yoder loves her students!
Spotlight on God's Word and Ice Cream

Over the past few weeks, the ice cream truck was purple and black as Mrs. Underwood, Mr. G, and Mr. Brown made deliveries of Baskin Robbins to students immersed in God's word.  The three showed up, unannounced, at the homes of students who responded to Mr. Brown's chapel challenge of sending in a picture of themselves reading the Bible.  The challenge continues and you can still get in on free ice cream...join the Red Letter Challenge here.
Generous Sponsors of Northwest Christian Athletes

May 4, 2020
Vol. 10, Issue 9
I John 5:14-15

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him."
Partnership with Ottawa University
means huge college savings!
Partnership with Ottawa University
means huge college savings!
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