MILLERSTOWN - Mia and Cori Davis felt the challenge to share the Gospel to their peers at school.
Mia, a sixth grader, and Cori, a fifth grader, attend school in the Greenwood School District. This month they celebrate one year of their club, "True Believers," which meets at 7:15 a.m. Tuesdays inside a classroom in the elementary school.
The two girls attended a church seminar a year ago known as MAD, or Making a Difference. A man by the name of Don Sunshine told the group about the different believers who exist in the world today: the make-believers, or those who think they know about Jesus; the true believers, who not only believe, but follow Jesus; and the unbelievers who do not accept Jesus at all.
Sentinel photo by TABITHA GOODLING
Cori, left, and Mia Davis pause for a photo in the classroom where they hold True Believers Club at Greenwood Elementary School.
"It moved me and challenged me to create this club," Mia, 12, said.
Immediately Mia incorporated her sister Cori, and the two wanted to hand out tracts in school. Their parents reminded them that this could be a problem in a public school setting.
Michelle, the girls' mother, said the girls prayed about what they could do and decided a club would work. The girls attend Richfield Mennonite Church, as does one of their teachers, Ashley Maneval. They asked Maneval if she would consider being the club advisor.
Then they sought permission from the school district and principal Jeff Kuhns.
Kuhns said the club is not a problem because it meets before school hours. He has watched from the sidelines as the group continues to grow and impact staff and students.
"They are great kids," he said of Mia and Cori.
The club, which is open to fourth, fifth and sixth grade students, consists of devotion time led by Mia or Cori and a special speaker for the half hour slot. The girls have asked pastors and people of ministry from Juniata County to speak, including their own pastor, Aaron Benner.
"Our lessons focus on everyday school problems. Right now we focus on guilt and conviction," Cori, 10, said.
She gave an example of a game they played that used hot potato to teach them what guilt does to the mind.
"As the hot potato got closer to me, the more pressure I felt," she explained.
The girls are surprised by the turn out. One year ago, they offered flyers to those who wanted them. They could not hand out flyers to every student but were allowed to ask students if they wanted a paper that explained the club.
In the beginning, roughly one dozen students showed up at True Believers. Now, the club averages 32 kids who make the effort to get out of bed early on Tuesday mornings.
It's not only a daytime club. True Believers also offers community outreach. Club members gather together in the summer months to do yard work in the Millerstown area. They also do something kind for their teachers. Each week they write a letter for a different teacher, thanking them for all they do.
One teacher who says she was blessed by the club is Luci Troup.
"I had both of the girls in my 4th grade classroom, and their dedication to the club is remarkable. This summer, after knee replacement surgery, the True Believers Club came to my house and did some yard work that I was unable to get to," she said. "The group of children and adult helpers volunteered their time to help me out on a very hot summer day. They truly are a group that looks for ways to encourage and bless others."
Most importantly, the girls say, they have grown closer to God through this entire process.
"I feel more compelled to tell people about Jesus. I've grown closer to Him and closer to my friends. They're my friends now not just my classmates," Mia said.
Cori agreed with her sister.
"When I'm leading a lesson, I learn more about (Jesus) too," she said.
The group bases itself on 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 life, in love, in faith and in purity."