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Coastal School Ministries offers Released-Time Bible classes through Horry County Schools. As the Coastal School Ministries class size grows, so does the need for financial support.
There are the school electives that embrace the arts and those that are grounded on the athletic fields. And then there’s an elective that is centered on changing lives through the Holy Spirit.
For the past 15 years, Coastal School Ministries (CSM) has facilitated Released-Time Bible education through Horry County Schools. If you haven’t heard of the program, you’re not alone. Despite its healthy lifespan, awareness is minimal, though such awareness is vital to CSM’s continued growth. This elective class is inspiring middle and high schoolers each semester.
“We see and hear from students every day how these classes have given them clearer understanding and hope for the challenges of daily life,” says Laurie Ferguson, executive director. “We believe God wants our area churches and community groups to know how public school students are being blessed through Released-Time Bible classes.”
One CSM student, James, says, “God really wasn’t in my life before I started going, but now I can see a huge improvement. … I can see how Released-Time is impacting my choice of friends and their lives.”
Tiffany was enrolled in CSM in 2002 as a St. James middle schooler and now her son, Jaylen, has followed her footsteps.
“The program was unbelievable,” says Tiffany. “If I didn’t take that class, I don’t know how my faith would be today. I know God was already working through me in the eighth grade. … I felt better about myself and started really enjoying going to school.”
The Bible classes are offered multiple class periods during each school day, five days a week, throughout the school year at St. James Middle, St. James High, Forestbrook Middle, Socastee High, Myrtle Beach Middle and Myrtle Beach High. With parental permission, students may leave school during an elective or exploratory period to attend the off-campus Bible classes at a host facility. Transportation is provided by CSM and a qualified, certified teacher with a firm command of the Bible provides instruction using the Bible as the textbook. Students are taught the Bible academically and taught how to apply the Bible to their daily lives devotionally.
“Our public schools are one of the greatest mission fields in our country today,” says Laura Hucks, program director. “It’s an incredible privilege we have to teach God’s word daily to public school students in a way that is relevant and applicable to their lives.”
She adds that the beautiful blessings God provides also come with great responsibility: to be able to provide committed and equipped teachers, fully functional classrooms that are repair-free and safe and reliable transportation and drivers to each local host location five days a week. And that, of course, takes regular financial backing. The 501(c)3 non-profit interdenominational organization is supported by donations from individuals, churches and businesses. No government funds are used.
This past school year marked CSM’s largest enrollment to date with 570 public school students. “We’ve grown from one school one semester to six schools year-round,” says Hucks. “God continues to exhibit His faithfulness.”
If you’d like to support the growth of CSM, visit www.coastalschoolministries.org or call (843) 293-0446. If you have a student who would like to enroll in CSM, permission slips are available from your school’s guidance counselor or by contacting CSM.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF COASTAL SCHOOL MINISTRIES