John was a parent who had grown up as a Christian. His life had become too busy and God had been squeezed out of his life. He had married and had children. As he was getting ready to select a school, he realised that his children were growing up with a vacuum in their lives. It was a gap he was unable to fill. He wanted our school to provide what he had received from his own parents. As he said to me, “I want my kids to know about God. I had choice and I want my kids to have choice as well.”
Adventist education is in fact all about choice. It reinforces family values and spiritual nurture, or in some cases, provides values and spiritual nurture that the family want to see but cannot provide. Once when I was talking to a dad who had moved away from his Christian roots, he looked over at his young daughter and quietly said, “I regret I do not have the family faith traditions to pass on to her.”
While all schools highlight learning for life, Adventist education sees a much bigger picture. We recognise there is much more than just this present life. There can be an eternal connection with a loving God who desperately wants everybody in His family. We provide each student with the opportunity to decide to be part of God’s family and nurture their spiritual journey as much as we are allowed to.
We choose to be very intentional about spiritual nurture, including having regular worship each morning as part of the normal school routines, having spiritual emphasis weeks, and providing opportunities for students to be involved in worship band or singing group or even to share their faith journey in weekly chapels or other forums. Even in disciplining students, our discussions can often include a focus on how God can be the ultimate answer for their need to change.
By nurturing our students spiritually, we also prepare them to nurture other students. One of the most powerful spiritual nurturing experiences I have ever seen came through a student. A Year 11 student was very angry with God because two classmates had died of cancer. He struggled with the notion that a loving God had allowed his two best friends to die. Then he began reading his Bible to decide whether to leave God behind or not. Over a few weeks it began to make a difference. He became the catalyst that started a student revival at our school. He shared his testimony in chapel, then in church. He initiated a large youth group at our weekly church “soup and buns and Bible sharing time”. He made a huge difference in many students’ lives because he had become a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Adventist education provides an environment permeated with the God–factor. It is Deuteronomy 6:4-9 in action for our children as we surround, nurture, and prioritize their faith journey.
This article is the fourth in a series of ten articles on the unique characteristics of Adventist education. Another article in the series will be published every other Thursday. To view all articles in this series, along with other articles by this author, click here: Articles by David McClintock.
Note: Article written and posted in Australian English.