The theme for camp meeting this year, “It’s Time,” has made me reflect on the necessity of Adventist Education. It’s Time to focus on a few things…Christ-centered education, leadership, outreach and visibility.
I am privileged to be able to visit the eleven Adventist schools in Wisconsin Conference and interact with the young people and staff. What amazing teachers we have in our conference! One day I was sitting in a classroom, listening to the students read their Bibles in Bible class. The students and teacher were having a wonderful conversation back and forth. After class, I asked a few students about their favorite part of Bible class. All the students said that Bible class led them to a closer relationship with Jesus. Their teacher encouraged discussion on any topic and was not condemning, but showed the love and grace of Jesus.
Students around the conference have expressed their appreciation for teachers who love and care for them and show Jesus every day, throughout the day, not just in Bible class. It’s Time to uplift our teachers in prayer and support so they can continue providing Christ-centered education that will lead our children to a relationship with Jesus. Support school programs, volunteer at the school, send a letter of encouragement to the teacher, talk positively about your school and its program and teacher(s), ask what you can do to support the school program.
This brings me to my next point. It’s Time to provide opportunities for our young people to be leaders. Our young people are the future of our church. Our young people are our future now. As in the schools of the prophets, our schools are a training field for students to learn how to be leaders and put that learning into practice.
I grew up in an Adventist church that incorporated all the young people in the church service. I was taking piano lessons and one day the Sabbath School superintendent asked me to play piano for song service. I was petrified. The woman knew I was scared, but insisted. She knew if the young people were involved in church they would stay. So, she rolled a big blackboard in front of the piano and I was able to slip in, play for song service, and slip out, unnoticed. I did this for many months until I was comfortable to play the piano. This led to more opportunities for involvement in church and I still love working in my local church.
At a recent school visit I was thrilled to learn that some of the students were practicing mini-sermons that they would be preaching the next Sabbath. As the students were reading their sermons, one girl excitedly told the teacher that her sermon was eight minutes. I later learned that this was not the first time these students had preached. Thank you teachers for inspiring, guiding, and leading our students to be leaders. Thank you church leaders for providing opportunities for students to work alongside and learn.
And finally. It’s Time to grow. COVID has been difficult, but for Adventist Education, I believe it has brought many blessings. This past year our schools were able to meet in person, with guidelines in place. This has opened a door for community families, looking for in-person education, to enroll their children. One teacher told me that three years ago a woman had shown up at her school and had brought her pastor, who had just moved from Puerto Rico, to enroll his son. The next year the pastor moved away. Fast forward to this year. A woman stopped in to check out the school. She said her son had been having trouble in the local public school and her mother had said to check out this Adventist school. The woman said that as soon as she walked into the school she felt God there. She hurried home and told her mom about the friendly, redheaded teacher, and how comfortable she felt at the school. They talked and figured out that they had met the same person (the redheaded teacher). God had been working for three years to have this student attend school. The boy is enrolled and flourishing at the Adventist school and next year his younger brother will be attending.
What are we doing to help our schools grow? If you are good at marketing, planning field trips, great with planning community service events, cleaning, listening to students read, planting flowers, teaching music or art, our schools need you!! These are just a sampling of ways we can work together to help our schools grow. Contact your local Adventist school or Wisconsin Academy today to see what you can do to help. It’s Time!! Let’s work together!
Sue Nelson, Education Superintendent