There is a story behind everything we do at Maranatha, including the Annual Gala. Every year the funds raised propel the school beyond the status-quo to a place where innovative learning, eye-opening experiences, and God-honoring outcomes are realized.
Below are stories of students, families, and staff who have been impacted by the annual Maranatha Gala. Some are testimonies sharing the impact of the generosity of our community, others have been blessed to be a blessing during the Gala.
Anchored for Life
The Dymanyks' Story
When I heard her speaking softly to the student and praying with him, I knew that this was a school that would ground my kids in Christ.
It was 1992, as the family story goes, and Nancy had toured several schools in the Twin Cities, looking for a good fit for her growing family. Nothing seemed quite right. After bringing it up to Jerry, her husband, he made statement that all of us kids heard every time they recited the story: “I always thought our kids would go to Maranatha.”
“Maranatha?” Nancy thought. “Wouldn’t that be too expensive?”
As it turns out, from the very first visit, my mom knew that her five children would attend MCA.
“I was listening to Mr. Sullivan speak,” she says, “And the Lord brought my attention to a woman sitting in the back of the room. I felt that I was supposed to go talk to her. So, I started a conversation, and I told her that my husband and I wanted to send our kids to a Christian school, but we weren’t sure we could afford it or that our families would understand. It turns out that she had the exact same story!”
Next, my mom tells how she visited the kindergarten classrooms and saw the memory verses on the walls and how faith was incorporated into the lessons. She was able to glimpse a Chapel service in which Pastor Kevin Fletcher ministered to students about their authority in Christ. However, what really settled the decision in her heart was a chance encounter in the hallway. As she passed, she happened to hear Mrs. Szwaja, then a first-grade teacher, praying with a student. “When I heard her speaking softly to the student and praying with him, I knew that this was a school that would ground my kids in Christ.”
Time goes quickly, the Lord provided year after year, and 30 years later, my family has celebrated all five MCA graduations, not to mention college graduations, weddings, and grandchildren! My siblings and I are still close and still serving the Lord in various ways: as a teacher, business major, Christian counselor, and 2 electricians. My mom talks about harder times with some of us as teenagers, but she says that she always knew we had a strong foundation: “At Maranatha, all my kids made deep and lasting friendships, were grounded in the Word, and prepared for a good life. And now I get to see my grandchildren going to MCA!”
Becoming Anchored in Christ
I’ll trust in Jesus, because I know that He doesn’t change.
Third grader Hannah has been attending MCA for nearly two years. She has known Jesus “my whole life basically.” Before coming to MCA, she attended a public school. While she loved the education, she wasn’t very aware of Jesus in her daily life: “When you just do your normal routine, you don’t focus on Christ as much, and I just didn’t trust Him like I do now.”
When she talks about coming to MCA, her enthusiasm shows: “MCA is great because of the teachers –Mrs. Szwaja is funny! I think she could be an actress!” The sweetest thing to Hannah, though, has been how she has grown in Christ.
A few months ago, the Holy Spirit began moving in Hannah’s heart. Her parents and teachers had been feeding her the Word. But it wasn’t enough: “I just kept thinking I needed to read the Bible for myself. I would write down the verses that I liked in the journal I got for my birthday.”
One day, Hannah was in the car, going home from school: “I remember it was on a Tuesday, and my father was driving. We were nearly home. I was halfway looking at the view and halfway talking to God in my mind. I said, ‘Lord, I want to trust you from this day on!’ And I decided to let Him in my life, fully. Before, Jesus was only halfway through the door. I wanted to get all of Him into my house!”
From that day, about a month ago, Hannah has felt the presence of God in her life. She has been building the foundation for a life anchored in Christ.
She loves being able to learn about Jesus at school: “Bible lessons and chapel help me every time! They help me focus on Christ. Every time we have chapel and we sing those worship songs, it helps me center on Christ. The Bible lessons help me think about what Jesus has done for us and how good He has been to me.”
As Hannah grows up, she says, “I’ll trust in Jesus, because I know that He doesn’t change.”
When she meets people who don’t believe, “I’ll tell them how good God is. He’s not an average god. He’s not a god like people create with their hands. He is real! And He listens to us!”
Up, Up, and Away!
The Mincke Family's Journey Toward Heaven
Not only is it a fun evening of socializing and supporting MCA, but each time we leave feeling overwhelmed with gratitude that our children get to attend such a unique school.
The MCA gala is something we look forward to each year. Not only is it a fun evening of socializing and supporting MCA, but each time we leave feeling overwhelmed with gratitude that our children get to attend such a unique school. Last year was our first year winning an auction item. I remember the adrenaline rushing through my body as the auctioneer announced the next prize: a hot air balloon ride! Without consulting Jordan, I exuberantly threw my arm up for the first bid, then a second and third. When he pointed at me and said, “you’re the winner!”, I recall a bit of regret sinking into my stomach. Did I even want to go on a hot air balloon ride?! Why didn’t I just bid on the basket of candles and coffee gift cards?! I walked away feeling alright, knowing that even if we didn’t use our hot air balloon ride certificate, we had donated money to the school.
Fast forward four months. I had the same regret-filled stomach as we crawled into a wicker basket (along with fourteen other strangers) awaiting our launch into the sky. Up, up and away we went. The houses became dots, the trees turned to a mass of green, and the St. Croix River looked like a thread. After about an hour of floating through what felt like heaven, I’m happy to report that we made it back alive and it was one of my favorite life experiences. I’m so glad that we went to the gala, bid on AND won an incredibly fun prize and got to support MCA all at the same time.
Paying it Forward
The Vincent Family's Live Auction Experience
The good times that were had by our family were well worth us paying it forward to Maranatha.
At the Gala last year, Lower School Assistant Principal, Laura Vincent, and her husband decided to bid on a unique live auction item – A Rooftop Party at a venue in Minneapolis. With their 10th anniversary on the horizon, they thought it would be a great place to celebrate with friends and family. At the same time, winning this item in the auction at the Gala allowed the Vincent family to support the school.
Later that summer, the venue provided the perfect backdrop for a fabulous party celebrating their anniversary. “The good times that were had by our family were well worth us paying it forward to Maranatha.”