The words “… on earth as it is in heaven…” are inscribed on the wall at the main entrance of Third Street Education Center. Third Street is a place where heaven comes to earth; it is a place where individuals put aside their personal interests to serve others, to love one another and to do the will of God. For example, the teachers at Third Street Academy give up the security of state jobs to teach the students not only their ABCs, but that each one of them is a child of God… the child of a King! Former executives give up high profile, high paying jobs to help young people understand that THEY are destined for greatness! Staff members work long hours for less money, so others can experience God’s love through their works. Volunteers give up precious free time to work and share the good news with neighbors. Students cheer joyfully for a classmate who wins his first, hard-earned award for best behavior! To me, this seems to be God’s will “… on earth as it is in heaven”.
Back in 2002 I felt God’s call to open a school for boys in Greenville. I clearly remember the day: I was spending my lunch hour in the car, in a church parking lot, prayerfully trying to discern God’s will for me and my family. We were considering a possible move from Greenville to Raleigh. As I prayed, it became abundantly clear that we needed to stay in Greenville and open a school for boys. That was it. Clear as day! Stay in Greenville and open a school for boys. Wait! What? What does this have to do with me and my family? I’m not an educator. I’m not equipped for this. Even with these doubts, I knew this wasn’t a just another harebrained idea – this was God calling me to a specific project that would gradually and continually move me away from my self-centeredness and toward Him.
Years passed. My wife and I would occasionally talk about “the school” and how we could be obedient, given our current vocation as a married couple with a growing family. As it turns out, God was also calling several other local men to start a school for boys.
I met Walter Strathy, Executive Director at Third Street, in the spring of 2012. I was coaching my son’s soccer team, and Walter was mentoring one of the players on the team. We became fast friends. One day at lunch, I shared with Walter that I believed God was calling me to open a school for boys. His reply shocked me: “What is it with all you guys wanting to open a school for boys?!” Wait! What? There are more of us?
Of course, in His infinite wisdom, God wasn’t calling me. He was calling US! He has called so many of us — doctors, teachers, business owners, moms, dads, lawyers, families — to open the doors of Third Street Academy. Maybe he’s calling you right now, to join us as we try our best to do His will “…on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Third Street Academy Advisory Board Chair