The word Eternity was featured over the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the 21st millennium New Year celebration. This was the legacy of Arthur Stace, a reformed alcoholic who converted to Christianity in 1930. For over 35 years he chalked the word Eternity in beautiful copper-plate writing on the streets of Sydney. It is estimated he did this over half a million times. His dedication to that one word captures the ultimate difference between state run education and Adventist education: educating for eternity.
God was in the school business in Eden. He was the teacher for Adam and Eve, and what a fantastic classroom! God’s original plan was a group of students and a classroom designed to last for eternity. Samuel instituted the Schools of the Prophets as he saw the importance of educating and training for eternity too. These schools were an integral part of Samuel’s long-term plan to strengthen the values and spiritual nurture of his people. Adventist education has a similar focus. It seeks to inculcate values. It creates opportunities to establish or enhance the student’s personal relationship with God.
School Captain Jose had been diagnosed with secondary cancer half way through his final high school year. He put up a brave fight. He dipped into his bucket list and lived every day with zest. His peers were in awe of his positive spirit. In his intended gap year he was the part-time chaplain of the Adventist school where his mum now taught. He was an inspiration to his peers and his entire community. At his funeral that year, a week shy of his 19th birthday, his peers shared their inspiration from his life. His was a life that had been far too short, but a life that had made a significant difference for all around him. He was at perfect peace in his relationship with God and was absolutely confident in the resurrection hope. His focus was eternity and he had transmitted his assurance to his peers in a remarkable way.
Some students choose not to accept the Christian view. Some express their reservation and clearly are establishing their independence from their parents’ values and faith. That is the integrity of freedom of choice in action. It is a risk God took when He created us, and it is the same risk parents and teachers take as they provide options but cannot dictate another person’s response and thinking. I have heard it expressed like this: “Faith is like a toothbrush: everyone needs one, but it works best when you have your own.”
Yes, Adventist education helps student to do well academically. It prepares graduates to make a constructive contribution to their society. But the ultimate goal is to develop an eternal focus. We want them to echo with their lives the word that was the mantra for Arthur Stace in response to God’s remarkable change in his own life: eternity.
School Example: Philosophy and ESLRs, Rogers Adventist School (link no longer available)
This article is the last in a series of ten articles on the unique characteristics of Adventist education. 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.